1. KIPO takes the first step towards sophistication of AI-based IP administration.
- KIPO and a private expert prepare a blueprint of service innovation using AI technology.
With the AI and IP-related industry-academia-research private experts, KIPO held an advisory board to establish a ‘roadmap for IP administration innovation using AI technology’ on October 28, 2022.
This meeting was arranged to conduct an in-depth discussion and gather opinions about a step-by-step implementation plan which KIPO prepared from last September.
For examination work support, KIPO has developed and used the services applying AI technology to prior art search (for a similar patent), trademark and design image search and translation, etc.
The usage status in the IP administration fields are: AI-based trademark and design image search (2021~), similar patent search (demonstration: March 2022~), machine translation (2020~), civilian IP consultation (2022~), etc.
As a part of the proactive public administration, an IP consultation AI chatbot service was introduced to provide an IP consulting service for 24 hours for 365 days on May, 2022.
However, due to the lack of examiner manpower and the fact that AI technology has rapidly advanced, the awareness that AI technology utilizing strategies are needed from a new viewpoint has arisen internally and externally.
Accordingly, KIPO reviews the direction of using the AI technology for the future 5 years and establishes visions, goals, promotional tasks and implementation plan by year.
The priority tasks are: ① building of an IP specialized language model using a huge AI model, ② development and advancement of examination service, such as patent and trademark search, etc., based on the new language model, ③ automation of formality examination based on the AI technology, etc.
2. Sustainable growth of a cosmetics industry KIPO has an answer in IP.
- KIPO held a meeting for communication in IP field of the cosmetics industry.
On October 18, 2022, KIPO held a meeting for communication with people in charge of IP of major companies of the cosmetics industry in the Korea Intellectual Property Center (located in Seoul), as a part of proactive public administration.
This meeting was to encourage the IP-related people in the cosmetics industry achieving the highest record in history in the last year and to seek for a plan to strengthen IP competitiveness for the sustainable growth of the cosmetics industry.
Representing the big, small and medium companies in the cosmetics industry, the IP-related people of LG H&H Co., Ltd., AmorePacific Corporation, Kolmar Korea Holdings Co., Ltd., HAVE&BE Ltd., Baram International Co., Ltd., and Perennebell Co., Ltd. participated in the meeting.
The participants raised the problems in occupancy of a core patent relating the basic material and original technology according to the increase in demand for functional cosmetics, and in dispute points according to IP infringement, such as an unauthorized preoccupancy and counterfeit product of a K-brand. The participants also transferred the suggestions from the relevant industry to improve the IP policy and systems.
The participants especially emphasized the seriousness of the situation of a foreign company’s unauthorized preoccupancy of a Korean company’s trademark in line with the K-Pop wave and the online distribution of counterfeit products, and they requested the strengthening of the control to prevent damage by counterfeit products.
The number of the cases of catching overseas unauthorized preoccupancy of a Korean cosmetics company’s trademark was 206 in 2019, 754 in 2020 and 952 in 2021.
In this regard, KIPO informed of the effort to strengthen online monitoring to prevent an unauthorized registration of a Korean company’s trademark and to prevent damage by the distribution of the counterfeit products thereof. KIPO also introduced a plan to reinforce field support to a Korean company, such as newly dispatching of an IP official and reorganizing an overseas IP center, etc.
KIPO will boldly improve the regulations and improve the quality of IP services, so that the industry is able to more closely communicate with the field and to rapidly solve the problems that the companies as the IP policy consumer have experienced.
3. Until the entire amount of official fees which were wrongly paid is refunded in full.
- The period of requesting for a refund of official fees which were paid by mistake has been extended from 3 years to 5 years according to the simultaneous revisions of the Korean Patent Act, Trademark Act and Design Act.
According to the simultaneous revisions of the Korean Patent Act, Trademark Act and Design Act, a period of requesting a refund of the official fees which were paid by mistake by an applicant and a right owner is extended from 3 years to 5 years from October 18, 2022.
According to Article 84 of the Korean Patent Act, a right to claim for a refund of patent fees (Refund of patent fees, etc.) and official fees paid will expire if more than 3 years have elapsed from the date of receiving a notification thereof. Non-refundable amounts belong to the national treasury.
The official fees including patent fees, etc., which went to the national treasury since the period for requesting refund of the official fees paid by mistake had expired after 3 years, are about 250,000,000 Korea Won on annual average.
Upon reviewing the amount of money and the number of cases by subject (as of 2018), 141,000,000 Korea Won (1,926 cases) were for small and medium companies, 117,000,000 Korea Won (2,657) for domestic individuals, and 15,000,000 Korea Won (176) for middle market companies, showing that 84.9% of the total amount of official fees paid by mistake were by individuals and small and medium companies.
The causes that such a payment by mistake occurred are various where the official fees were overpaid (for example, although an applicant was a subject to 85% reduction when filing an application, the applicant paid a 70% reduced amount), or where although one of the co-owners of a right paid patent fees, the other co-owner also paid the fees, etc.
To return the official fees paid by mistake by IP customers, KIPO operated an ex officio return system (January 2019) wherein, if an applicant registers in advance a bank account to receive refund, KIPO returns the refund.
As a mobile electronic notification system was introduced (November 2021), KIPO improved an individual applicant’s convenience so that the applicant is able to easily request refund by mobile phone.
KIPO has also continued the efforts in many ways to improve the official fee refund function by indicating, on an initial screen, the number of cases of the subjects to refund and introducing an account verification function when logging in at the website (www.patent.go.kr) in November 2021.
When paying official fees by mistake, an applicant and an owner of a right access to www.patent.go.kr and confirm the details to be refunded by inputting a patent customer number in the section, ‘request for refund of official fees’.
After confirming the details of refund, the applicant and the owner may request for direct refund online at www.patent.go.kr. An applicant or an owner of a right who has difficulty in online access may fill a ‘request for refund’ and request refund by mail or fax.
In relation to the partial revision of the Acts, Insil LEE, KIPO Commissioner, said, “as much as the period of requesting for refund of official fees has been extend by 2 years more, from 3 years to 5 years, I hope the rights and interests of official fee payers will be more protected…KIPO will seek many ways such that official fees, such as patent fees (registration fees) and application filing fees, which were paid by mistake, are refunded to the payers in full, without nonrefunded amounts going to the national treasury.”
4. KIPO controls counterfeit products relating to ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts (BTS)’.
- KIPO and trademark owners jointly controlled the counterfeit products in the BTS performance site.
- Korea Music Content Association (KMCA) and major entertainment management companies conducted control on online counterfeits.
On October 15, 2022, KIPO and Bighit Music, a Korean entertainment management company, conducted counterfeit crackdown activities and instructional activities in Busan Asiad Main Stadium (Busan) where a concert, ‘BTS in Busan’, was held to wish to host a ‘2030 Busan World’s Fair’.
Through the official channel of BTS before the performance started, HYBE Co., Ltd. requested to refrain from purchasing fan product-related counterfeits and announced a joint crackdown with the KIPO trademark special judicial police on the day of the performance.
KIPO and Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency operated a PR space to spread an IP respect culture and carried out publicity activities for spectators coming to the concert hall.
For the month of October, KIPO and KMCA and Korean entertainment management companies (HYBE, SM, JYP, YG) intensively checked fan-product related counterfeits in major online stores and had a plan to conduct an investigation on large habitual sellers based on the information collected in the process of counterfeit crackdown.
HYBE Co., Ltd. said, “we have strictly responded to the companies habitually manufacturing, selling and distributing the products using, without permission, portrait rights and trademark rights of our artist. Especially, in the performance to wish to hold the 2030 Busan World’s Fair, we will check the field by cooperation with KIPO so not to obscure the purpose to prevent consumers from being damaged by purchasing counterfeits. We will also continue to further strengthen the management of artists’ portraits and trademark rights, etc.”