1. KIPO provides the full range of support including a preferential examination with respect to a semiconductor patent application.
-KIPO focuses on securing a core patent by using retirement personnel for patent examination and analyzing patent big data, etc.
On July 24, 2022, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that it would devote all its strength to secure a core patent of the semiconductor industry, keeping pace with national support to the semiconductor industry which is in the interest of the national security and the foundation of the Korean economy.
In the technology hegemonic competition around semiconductors, etc., each country has intensively made efforts to secure a core patent.
Therefore, KIPO plans to support the Republic of Korea to keep the super gap in the semiconductor area, through 1) a rapid examination of a semiconductor invention, 2) a manpower management of a core inventor, and 3) a positive administration, such as analysis of patent big data of a core technology.
1)To support a Korean company to rapidly secure a patent, KIPO will operate a preferential examination on a semiconductor invention. As the global semiconductor companies have intensely competed for the next generation technology development, such as 3-nano semiconductors, etc., it is urgent to rapidly secure a patent.
In this regard, KIPO plans to amend the Enforcement Decrees of the Korean Patent Act, to add a patent application relating to a cutting-edge technology, such as semiconductor, etc.. With this plan, the period for a patent examination in the semiconductor area is expected to be shortened from about 12.7 months at present to about 2.5 months in the future. The relevant legislative notice is scheduled for August, the examination by the Ministry of Legislation and the submission to the State Council for September, and the promulgation and enforcement of the relevant amendments for October.
2)KIPO will support the management of key manpower which can be the backbone of the semiconductor industry, through the information of an inventor described in a patent application.
KIPO plans to analyze a key manpower by field and a change in an average age of an inventor, etc. based on the inventor information of a semiconductor patent application, to present an area of priority for future manpower training.
In addition, KIPO has a plan to use, for a patent examination, retired research manpower in the core technology areas including semiconductors, etc., thereby preventing the technology leakage by transferring to an overseas job and providing an accurate examination service. The plan is to utilize the field expertise of the retired research manpower to secure a semiconductor core patent.
3)KIPO also will measure future technology development direction by analyzing patent big data of a global semiconductor company competing with the Republic of Korea and presenting a research and development area for a Korean company to dominate, thereby being helpful in establishing Korean semiconductor industrial strategies.
2. KIPO held a meeting of small and medium companies and venture companies to strengthen an IP ability in the AI area.
-KIPO provides a AI-related patent information and listened to opinions for examination improvement.
For small and medium companies and venture companies having difficulties in understanding and responding to the patent information in the AI technology area, KIPO held a meeting to improve their IP ability in the Daejon Government Complex on July 20, 2022.
This meeting was attended by 10 small and medium companies and venture companies located in Daejeon, which have applied the AI technology to the various technology fields, such as face recognition, deepfake, medical reading system, speech recognition, etc., and commercialized these.
KIPO provided the patent information including the trends of AI-related Korean and overseas patent applications and the relevant patent analysis results and listened to the voice from the industrial field regarding the examination improvements in the AI area.
KIPO’s policy is to create the environments for small and medium companies and venture companies to obtain excellent patents by increasing the predictability of an examination result through the explanation of examination standards in the AI area and to reflect the opinions from the AI technology industry to a patent examination practice, such as an amendment to the patent examination practice guide, etc.
3. The way to file an application for metaverse “virtual goods”
- KIPO prepared and operated a guide for a recognition range of virtual goods and a similar determination thereof (July 14, 2022).
As the transaction of virtual goods has been active in the virtual space, such as metaverse, and the number of the relevant trademark applications has increased (from 20 in 2010~2019, 6 in 2021, 17 in 2021 to 717 in as of May 2022), KIPO announced to operate a prepared ‘examination guide of virtual goods’ on July 14, 2022.
Previously, only the shapes, such as ‘downloadable image file (virtual clothing)’, ‘computer program recording virtual clothing (virtual goods)’, etc., were recognized as the names of goods.
However, the range that an applicant selects the names of goods has expanded by also recognizing a name made in the form of ‘virtual + real goods’, like ‘virtual clothing’, ‘virtual shoes’, etc.
Since the name, ‘virtual goods’, is itself ambiguous with respect to the range of goods, it has a potential to cause a trademark dispute and therefore it is not recognized as a name of goods.
In this examination guide, virtual goods, which were previously classified as similar goods to an image file or computer program, is classified as a separate group of goods to be distinguished from an image file, etc. Virtual goods are also subdivided by reflecting the characteristics of real goods.
Goods classification codes (similar group codes), which are the codes assigned to goods by classifying goods as identical goods and similar goods and as services by reflecting the properties of goods itself and the transaction status, etc., are used as references upon trademark examination to determine a range of similarity between designated goods.
Through this examination guide, KIPO is to prevent a trademark dispute in the virtual space and to solve a problem in that a range of trademark selection is excessively reduced.
Virtual goods and real goods are examined from the view of point that these are in principle the goods which are unsimilar to each other.
There are some arguments that virtual goods are similar goods to real goods since the virtual goods are expressed including some elements, such as names and main appearance, etc. of the real goods. However, since virtual goods and real goods are different from each other with respect to the purpose of use and the sales channel, etc., basically, the chance of consumer’s confusion thereof is considered as low.
But, when an application is filed for a trademark which is similar to a famous trademark, etc., an examination is conducted as to whether there is a possibility of confusion of the filed trademark and the famous trademark.
4. KIPO enhances fairness and professionalism in a trademark examination support project.
-KIPO announced an amendment draft proposal to the notice of a trademark examination support project management.
To improve the fairness and professionalism in the trademark examination support project, such as trademark search project, etc., on July 8, 2022 KIPO announced an amendment draft proposal to the notice of a trademark examination support project management.
The relevant draft proposal will be for an administrative notice to public around the end of July, through opinion inquiries from the relevant ministries and by gathering opinions from the interested parties.
【 trademark examination support project 】
The trademark examination support project started from 2003 for the purpose of rapid trademark examination and examination quality improvement, by entrusting some of examination work (such as search and analysis of a filed trademark, classification of designated goods, etc.) to an external specialized agency.
This amendment to the notice has the main content of preventing a situation of conflict of interest which may happen when executing the project, strengthening qualifications of the specialized agency and strengthening the competitive factors between the specialized agencies.
A company, where a relative within 4th degree of a former or current employee of KIPO and a current patent attorney serves as an executive, is restricted from registering for the specialized agency and participating the project, so that the situation of conflict of interest is in advance blocked.
Further, as the qualifications of the personnel to search trademarks and to classify goods in the specialized agency, they need to complete a trademark system-related education and to pass an evaluation of the ability to execute the project, etc. The eligibility rules and career requirements of the personnel to participate in the individual plans, such as trademark search, designated goods classification, etc. are specified, so that the agency and personnel to execute the project have ability as required.
Regarding the agency having high scores in the quality evaluation of every year project performance results or a new agency having high scores in the evaluation of ability of the project performance, a project volume distribution system is reorganized such that the next year’s project volume is intensively distributed to those agencies, thereby strengthening the cause that the specialized agency to execute the project needs to improve the quality.