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The face and name of a famous celebrity or sportsperson is now protected by law.(News Letter No. 483)



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1. The face and name of a famous celebrity or sportsperson is now protected by law.

- An amended unfair competition prevention act to protect a right of publicity (which is a right to commercially use an economical value of a face, name, etc.) has been enforced since June 8, 2022.

An act of using, without permission and consent, a portrait, name, etc. of a celebrity, such as Bulletproof Boy Scouts (BTS), Heung-min Son, etc. falls under the unfair competition act from June 8, 2022.

KIPO announced that the laws relating to an unfair competition prevention and a trade secret protection (hereinafter, referred to as an ‘unfair competition prevention act’) including the aforementioned content have been enforced from June 8, 2022.

A specific person identifiable mark, such as the name, portrait, voice, signature, etc., which is well-known in South Korea and has an economical value is subject to legal protection.

In the case of infringing on the economic interests of others by using, without permission, a personal mark in a way that goes against a fair business practice or competitive order, this is recognized as an unfair competition act.

When economical damage occurs by such a use without permission, the victim is able to claim compensation for the damage and to request a ban on the unfair competition. The victim is also able to request KIPO for an administrative investigation such that KIPO’s recommendation for correction and announcement are possible.

Under the circumstance that the Korean culture content, such as BTS , a squid game, movie ‘parasite’, etc. has expanded to the global markets, the new unfair competition prevention act has been prepared for the purpose to protect a portrait, etc. of a celebrity, which is the result of investment and effort of the entertainment industry.

As this new act has been enforced, effective sanctions regarding the act of using, without permission, the portrait, name, etc. of a famous celebrity and the act of distributing an illegal product in the fan-goods market, etc. are expected.

To enhance the understanding of the amended unfair competition prevention act, KIPO held a presentation on June 2, 2022. Anyone can watch the presentation video through the KIPO’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/kipoworld).

KIPO also plans to make and distribute a collection of key questions and answers and a handbook including the cases of specific unfair competition acts which are forbidden by the act, so that the new act can be stably enforced.

2. KIPO caught up 672 cases of false indication of a cosmetic intellectual property (IP) right.

- Beware of false indication of a cosmetic IP right!

On June 6, 2022 KIPO published that, as a consumer’s interest in and demand for cosmetics with an expectation of a step-by-step daily recovery, KIPO carried out an intensive crackdown focusing on the false indication of a cosmetic IP right for 6 weeks starting last March, to prevent consumer damage.

For this crackdown, KIPO checked the current situation of IP (patent, design, etc.) right indication and advertisement of the cosmetics for sale in major open markets. As a result of checking them, 672 false indication cases were brought involving 31 products.

Upon reviewing the types of the false indication cases, ⊂ 274 cases misrepresented the names of IP rights, ⊂ 230 marked as valid rights after expiration of rights, ⊂ 167 marked non-existent rights, and ⊂ 1 marked the number rejected for registration. In many cases, the IP right names were incorrectly indicated by confusion and failure of distinguishing patents, designs, utility models, trademarks.

The cosmetic products which were caught include ⊂ 210 pact cushions, ⊂ 124 gel nails, ⊂ 123 creams and ⊂ 58 sun creams. As customers’ outdoor activities have increased due to the relaxation of regulation on COVID-19, it is confirmed that the relevant cosmetic sales and the misrepresentations of IP rights thereof have increased.

As to the 672 cases, KIPO took corrective actions to notify the relevant open market business people of the products with the IP misrepresentation and to guide them with correct indication methods to correct and delete the misrepresentation information from the relevant products.

To improve consumer’s understanding of the IP rights including patents, designs, etc., KIPO will provide the products with correct IP indications by the types of IP rights, through an integrated system of a report center of IP misrepresentation (www.ip-navi.or.kr).

3. Listen to various voices for the improvement of Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS).

- A meeting was held for the users of KIPRIS.

KIPO held a meeting of the KIPRIS users to improve the KIPRIS service in the Seoul office of KIPO.

From 2000, KIPO has provided the KIPRIS service, for free, so that anyone can search home and abroad IP data, including patent/trademark/design, etc. and view the additional information including an examination process situation, etc.

Since it is possible to check similar patents/trademarks/designs which were filed and registered by using KIPRIS, R&D investment duplication is prevented and the allowability of an IP right is increased. Therefore, the usage of KIPRIS has steadily increased and at present about more than 1,000,000 people per year visit KIPRIS.

Not only the number of the users has increased but also the composition of the users has been diverse. In the past, KIPRIS were majorly used by people in charge of IP matters in patent offices or companies to search prior art. However, these days, the percentage of general individual users including students, etc. to use KIPRIS has increased from 17% in 2012 to 25% in 2021 as the number of start-ups using IP data has increased and the interest in IP rights including the number of patent and trademark applications has increased.

As the KIPRIS users have become diverse, the users’ requests have also been different by asking for easier search and convenience improvement when KIPRIS service is used in mobile devices.

Accordingly, KIPO arranged the meeting to listen to the opinions from the various users including users from companies, individual users, users from the patent offices, etc., and to improve the services such that the users are able to easily search and use the IP data.

Further, considering that the IP analysis service market has expanded in the private sector, KIPO is going to collect the opinions about the public and private roles in the IP search service, such that the private IP analysis service market is able to develop.

4. An eco-friendly car runs farther by wasted heat!

-The number of integrated heat management system-related patent applications filed by IP5 since 2011 has grown by an annual average of 11%.

-Hyundai took 2nd place and LG 3rd in the ranking of the number of the relevant patent applications, showing Korean companies were strong in the ranking.

In line with the rapid growth of the eco-friendly car market, the technology of an integrated heat management system of an eco-friendly car, such as an electric car for a power use efficiency and an improvement of driving range, has been actively developed worldwide.

According to KIPO, the number of the eco-friendly car integrated heat management system-related patent applications filed by IP5 increased over the last 10 years (2011~2020) by an annual average of 11%. IP5 is the advanced 5 countries (US, Europe, South Korea, China and Japan) occupying 85% of the worldwide patent applications.

Notably, the number of the relevant applications filed over the last 5 years (2016~2020) rapidly increased by an annual average of 16.2%, showing that the growth speed was faster by more than 140% compared to the annual average growth since 2011.

Upon reviewing the relevant patent applications filed (2011~2020) by a country, China filed the most applications (3,725, 51%), followed by US (1,392, 19%), Japan (862, 12%), South Korea (833, 11%) and Europe (508, 7%).

The number of the relevant applications filed by South Korea, US, Europe and China over the last 5 years (2016~2020) increased compared to the past, whereas, the number of the applications filed by Japan decreased from 451 to 411. This is considered to be due to Japan focusing on the hybrid car technology development.

Upon reviewing the percentage of the applications filed in each of IP5 by citizens and foreigners, the percentage of the applications filed in US by foreigner was highest as 70.0%, in Europe 60.8%, in Japan 29.2%, in China 29.0% and in South Korea 20.1%.

The applicants who filed most applications are Toyota (678), Hyundai Motor (609), LG (425), Honda (320) and Ford (254), showing that Korean companies, Hyundai and LG put their names on the 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.

Hyundai Motor and LG which stood out in the ranking of the number of the applications in the major countries are considered as being active in the development of the integrated heat management system technology.

By technology field (2016~2020), the number of the applications relating to the heating using waste heat was highest with an increase of an annual average of 29.7%, the field of the heat management of power parts (battery, fuel cell) was 18.1%, the heat pump field was 14.5%, and the field of heat management using a multi-wave (X-way) valve was 14.0%.

The rapid increase in the number of the applications relating to the heating using waste heat is considered as to minimize mileage reduction according to the operation of an air conditioner by overcoming the lack of heat source in an electric car.

5. A patent invention for a microorganism invention and a request for furnishing a microorganism become easy and fast.

-KIPO carries forward the simplification of the procedures to deposit and furnish a microorganism.

As a part of the regulatory reform to solve the people’s inconvenience in the processes of filing a patent application and conducting an examination, on June 27, 2022 KIPO published to remarkably simplify the microorganism deposit and furnishing procedures which are required when filing a patent application relating to the microorganism invention.

In the future, as it is possible to share, in real time, the deposit information by building the information sharing system with the 4 deposit agencies designated by KIPO, it is not required to separately submit a copy of a microorganism deposit certificate when filing a microorganism-related patent application. The 4 deposit agencies are Biological Resource Center of Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Korea Culture Center of Microorganisms, Korean Cell Line Research Foundation, Microbial Bank of Rural Development Administration.

Previously, since the deposit information was not shared in real time between KIPO and the deposit agencies, in order to file a microorganism-related patent application, an applicant needs to deposit the relevant microorganism to a deposit agency and to directly receive a certification of the microorganism deposit from the deposit agency and submit it to KIPO.

As the procedures for furnishing a patented microorganism are also remarkably simplified, when a patented microorganism is used as for the test or research, it is possible to directly request of the deposit agency for furnishing the microorganism, without any separate certificate. Previously, for this end, the applicant should directly submit to the deposit agency a certificate issued from KIPO by a request for proving a qualification for furnishing the microorganism.

The previous complicated test and/or research certificates, the documents for patent publications, etc. which must be submitted when requesting a certificate of qualification for furnishing a microorganism, are now simplified so that the applicant just simply writes the furnishing information in the request for certificate of qualification for furnishing a microorganism.


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