1. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO; Commissioner: Jung-sik KOH) is raising as an intellectual property (IP) education hub in the Asia-Pacific region
KIPO is becoming know as the IP education hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
It was announced that KIPO and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization will jointly operate a ‘program for educating people to use the APEC patent information.
Among the member nations of APEC, the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore have their own IP education programs. However, this is the first education program to be operated, step-by-step, for a long time, for the many countries within the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, this is the largest scale program among the on/off-line integrated IP education programs which have been operated within the Asia-Pacific region.
This program comprises of three steps: on-line education, off-line education and e-learning content development and supply. The feature of this program is to systematically theoretically and practically teach how to search, analyze and use patent information.
About 600 people (including college/graduate students, staff in charge of IP in companies and public officials in charge of IP) in the member nations of APEC will take the on-line basic course education. KIPO plans to teach the contents needed for patent information search and analysis by using the ‘Intellectual Property (IP) Xpedite’, the English e-learning content jointly developed by KIPO and APEC in 2007.
2. Samsung Electronics and Toshiba agreed to extend the co-ownership of a semiconductor patent
According to a public announcement dated June 22, 2009, Samsung Electronics and Toshiba, a Japanese company, agreed to jointly own the patents of their semiconductor business departments. Samsung Electronics and Toshiba which are the first and second companies in ranking in the NAND-flash field had co-owned the patent technology in the semiconductor field from September 2002 to March 2009.
This agreement extends the period for co-owning the patents. The two companies did not publish any details regarding the period or terms for co-ownership according to the agreement.
A spokesman of Samsung Electronics said that, “[the two companies] decided to own the patent technology jointly, to avoid unnecessary patent competitions, strengthen the cooperation between the leading companies and secure the initiative in the relevant markets.”
In last year, Samsung Electronics with 42.1% of the market shares was 1st in the NAND-flash market and Toshiba with 29.3% was 2nd. Hynix with 12.3% was 3rd.
A spokesman in the relevant industries said, “considering that the two companies hold more than 70% of the market share in the NAND-flash field and own most of the patent technologies jointly, [this agreement] is made on the level to strengthen the market strength.”
3. The Fair Trade Commission applied sanctions against Qualcomm’s license terms and conditions
According to a well-informed source on June 18, 2009, the FTC added the unfair license conditions to the sanctions applied to Qualcomm, a company holding the original technology for Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA).
The source, requesting anonymity, said that FTC applied sanctions against Qualcomm’s discriminative and unreasonable terms and conditions for using the patent license. Qualcomm acknowledged that the multimedia products having chips in a tie-in sale were sold to the client companies and the lawsuit was brought on a charge of unfairness of rebate and discount. Regarding these acts, Qualcomm was accused by Texas Instruments and Broadcom in US. Qualcomm was also accused before FTC by Nextreaming and Teen Multimedia in the Republic of Korea. These companies tried to contact with Qualcomm to receive their comments but failed.
4. Big companies’ R&D investments are steadily increasing
In spite of the global economic slump, big companies are continuously investing in R&D.
According to the report on ‘tasks to be improved to expand companies’ R&D investments’ issued by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the amount invested in R&D, for the first quarter of the year, by the top ten (10) R&D investment companies totaled 3.1 trillion Korea Won, increasing by 9.9% compared to 2,8 trillion Korea Won for the same period in the previous year.
According to the explanation in the report, the Korean R&D costs were about 31.3 trillion Korea Won (7th in the world) higher than the size of the economy (14th in the world) on the basis of the year of 2007and this resulted from the active investment of companies. However, in the view of the size of R&D investment by an individual company, while 39 US companies, 38 European companies and 18 Japanese companies were included in the world top hundred (100) R&D investment companies, published by the European Union (EU) in the later half of 2008, only 3 Korean companies were ranked, i.e., Samsung Electronics (12th), Hyundai Motor (55th) and LG Electronics (62nd). Therefore, the report indicated that government incentives were needed to secure competitiveness in the global markets by expanding the R&D investments of Korean companies.
The report provided the ratio of tax deduction to the total amount of R&D investments in the countries competing with one another in the world markets. The ratio of tax deduction is 8-10% in Japan, 10% in France, 8.4% in United Kingdom and 12.5% in China. These numbers are higher than 3-6% in the Republic of Korea. Therefore, FKI insisted that the ratio of tax reduction should be at a level similar to those of the competing countries, to compete with the global companies.
According to the report, to develop new and renewable energy and environment friendly technologies, foreign companies increased the amount of R&D investments by 22.9% in 2007, compared with 2006. However, since the investments of Korean companies were focused on the fields of electrics, electronics and motors, the investments in the fields of environment friendly energy and new and renewable energy was relatively small.
FKI insisted that the matching fund cash rate and royalties of the companies participating in the national R&D projects should be down and the management system should be improved to reduce the administrative burden of researchers. Further, the paradigm should be switched to the market-aiming R&BD (Research & Business Development), not to sell developed technologies but to develop the technology sold in markets.
In addition, FKI proposed that the government expand investments in the basic/original technologies required for long-term investments (although those investments are accompanied with a high possibility of risk), to educate the R&D experts needed in companies, and to expand the national level patents, standardization and authentication projects.