1. KIPO announced a 2023 work plan.
KIPO prepared 12 key tasks under the 3 major promotion strategies strengthening government competitiveness, technology competitiveness and business competitiveness for 2023.
First, the government competitiveness is to be strengthened by innovating the intellectual property (IP) administrative system.
An Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based intelligent IP administrative system, such as development of giant AI model, advancement of examination search, automation of trial formality, etc., is to be built to make examination work more efficient.
To advance the IP system from a view of responding to digital transformation and improving public convenience, KIPO will carry forward a plan to introduce the trademark coexistence agreement system and to improve the system of extension of a pharmaceutical patent term to the level of advanced countries.
30 professional examiners in the semiconductor area, who were secured in 2022, will be early added in March, and an exclusive examination organization thereof will be pre-emptively formed to support Korean companies to secure an ultra-difference in the semiconductor area.
Second, the technology competitiveness is to be strengthened by securing a future growth engine in the high-tech area.
Through an analysis of world patent bigdata including more than 500,000,000 cases, a research and development (R&D) system is to be innovated by preventing duplicate studies and discovering promising technology. Especially, intensive support will be provided in the 9 high-tech industrial areas, such as semiconductors, and displays, etc., in this year.
In January of this year, a patent statistical center was established, which is formed of experts in each of patent, economy, statistics, etc. and which is an organization exclusively responsible of patent bigdata analysis.
Third, the business competitiveness is to be strengthened by forming an IP-based growth ecosystem of an innovative company.
An innovation of an IP valuation system is carried forward based on AI and new evaluation model. An IP valuation management center will be established in the second half of this year, to strengthen the quality management of valuation.
A patent box system to reduce the amount of tax to the profit made by commercializing an IP will be introduced to promote technology commercialization.
Dispatching a patent officer to a country where infringement frequently occurs will be expanded to solve a blind spot, so that a promising company may not have a problem due to an IP issue.
A patent-related dispute warning service will be extended from US to Europe and China, to prepare a systematically responding system to a patent management financial company (non-practicing entity: NPE).
2. Trends of Korean patent applications filed in 2022.
-Increase in the number of international patent applications (PCT applications) and the number of the applications relating to Korea high-tech and major industrial area, such as semiconductors, digital communications, etc., in 2022.
Affected by the recession due to global inflation, the number of Korean patent applications filed in 2022 maintained the previous year’s level; whereas the number of international patent applications (PCT applications) and the number of the applications relating to Korea high-tech and major industrial area, such as semiconductors, digital communications, etc., increased.
On January 30, 2023, KIPO published that the number of Korean patent applications filed in 2022 was about 237,000, maintaining the previous year’s level.
In detail, the number of Korean patent applications filed in 2022 was about 237,000, decreasing 0.2% compared to the previous year. By the type of applicant, the number of Korean patent applications filed by big companies increased by 9.3%, foreign applicants by 4.0%, and small and medium companies by 0.8%; whereas the number of Korean patent applications filed by individuals decreased by 13.6%.
The number of Korean patent applications filed by Korean applicants by technology field increased around the high-tech technology areas, that is, by 18.3% in semiconductors, 7.5% in e-commerce, 5.8% in electronic (digital) communications; whereas the number of the applications decreased by 17.1% in civil engineering and by 16.1% in other consumer goods, such as masks.
The increase in the number of Korean applications filed by Korean applicants in the high-tech technology area is considered as a result that, under the big frame of the competition for technological supremacy between US and China, Korean companies have performed by themselves the strategical IP managements to secure the supply chain in the high-tech and major industrial areas, such as semiconductors, electronic (digital) communications, etc.
However, the number of international patent applications (PCT applications) filed in 2022 totaled 21,916, with an increase of 6.8% compared to the previous year, showing that this number exceeded an average increase rate (6.6%) over the 5 years (2018~2022).
The number of the international patent applications increased from 16,991 in 2018, 18,885 in 2019 (11.1%), 19,675 in 2020 (4.2%), 20,528 in 2021 (4.3%), to 21,916 in 2022 (6.8%).
By the type of applicant, the number of international patent applications filed by small and medium companies increased by 13.2% and the number thereof filed by big companies increased by 15.6%; whereas the number thereof filed by individuals decreased 13.0%, like the number of Korean patent applications.
Notably, although the number of Korean patent applications filed by small and medium companies was at the previous year’s level, the number of international patent applications (PCT applications) filed by small and medium companies increased, showing that Korean small and medium companies have devoted to overseas expansion through technology development, without shrinking from the economic recession.
Upon reviewing the increase or decrease status in the number of Korean applications filed by countries in 2022, compared to the previous year, the number of Korean applications filed by US applicants increased by 14% and the number thereof by Europe increased by 3.9%; whereas the number thereof by China decreased by 0.1% and the number thereof by Japan decreased by 2.2%.
From the status of the number of the applications relating to the semiconductor area, filed by foreign applicants, the number of the applications thereof filed by US increased; whereas the numbers thereof filed by Japan and Taiwan decreased.
3. The number of counterfeits of filler and and botulinum toxin (BTX) has increased as K-beauty products became popular, and about 3,000 counterfeits were confiscated by the cooperation of China.
-KIPO and IP-DESK conducted a factual survey and cracked down the distribution of counterfeits in China, to protect the relevant IP right.
KIPO and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) conducted a factual survey of counterfeited Korean cosmetic medicines, such as filler and botulinum toxin, etc., which were distributed in China. KIPO and KOTRA also cracked down on the counterfeits with the cooperation of the China authorities. As a result, they caught wholesale stores and sales sites and confiscated 3,164 counterfeits of Korean cosmetic medicines.
As the Korean beauty (K-beauty) products have become popular in China due to the Korea wave, IP infringements have spread from cosmetics to medicines.
In these situations, KIPO has been active in protecting the K-brands of Korea cosmetic medicines, and the China authorities have carried forward the policy to strengthen IP protection. Accordingly, the counterfeits were rapidly cracked down.
(1)Factual survey and crackdown of the counterfeits of Korean cosmetic medicines in China
KIPO, a Korean overseas IP center located in Beijing (hereinafter, referred to as ‘IP-DESK’) and a Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in China seized the situation that the medicines, such as fillers, botulinum toxin, etc., were converted to Korean products to be distributed in China and the three conducted a factual survey of IP infringements all over China.
The factual survey was conducted in 36 wholesale markets, 166 skin care shops, clinics and treatment centers, and 12 major online platforms located in 22 cities (Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, etc.) in China for July through October 2022.
6 wholesale stores suspected of distributing counterfeited Korean cosmetic medicines were caught. In one of them, 3,164 counterfeited Korean cosmetic medicines stored in the warehouse were confiscated. In addition, 26 sales links of e-commerce sites were caught.
Based on the result of this factual survey, KIPO and IP-DESK were able to conduct the crackdown of the counterfeited cosmetic medicines, through the cooperation of the Chinese regulatory agency.
The information relating to the wholesale stores and e-commerce platforms which were caught is to be provided to the Chinese authorities, Korean pharmaceutical companies, Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, to additionally control the seller of counterfeits and to expand support in responding to infringement damages.
(2)KIPO’s expansion of support to protect K-brands
To prevent the distribution of counterfeits which are obstacles in the exporting by a Korean company, KIPO plans to further strengthen support in protecting a K-brand.
KIPO and KOTRA have operated IP DESK in 11 countries including China, Vietnam, etc., to provide IP-related consultation and legal services locally. This year, they have a plan to expand a factual survey of counterfeit distribution to the Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, etc. as well as China.
They will also soon prepare and publish a plan to strengthen the response to the counterfeits of K-brands, to prevent damages due to the counterfeits of K-brands, which have increased in foreign countries.
4. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between South Korea-United Arab Emirates (UAE) was concluded for deepening cooperation in the intellectual property area.
-On the occasion of Korean President, YOON Seok-yeol’s state visit to UAE, the cooperation in the IP area between South Korea and UAE will be expanded in analyzing and using IP information.
The Commissioner of KIPO and Mr. Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Economy of UAE had a high-level meeting in the Korea-UAE IP area in Abu Dhabi on January 16, 2023 (local time) and signed the MOU to deepen cooperation in the IP area.
Since the comprehensive cooperative MOU was concluded in 2010, KIPO and the Ministry of Economy of UAE have carried forward cooperative projects (such as acting patent examination, building patent information system, etc.), shared the patent examination practice-related experience and know-how, sent a total of 14 KIPO experts to the Ministry of Economy of UAE to act an patent examination and to actively support UAE to be able to have a high-quality patent examination work system.
Taking an opportunity of President YOON’s state visit to UAE, in the situation that the exchange between the two countries has expanded and deepened in various areas including energy, nuclear power, investment, defense industry, etc., KIPO and the Ministry of Economy of UAE reached to sign the MOU for deepening cooperation in the IP area to further develop the friendship, based on the cooperation performance so far.
This MOU includes the following content: △ to share know-how to analyze and use patent information for an effective development of a national strategic technology, △ to cooperate in IP education for an engineer, graduate student of science and engineering, etc., △ to exchange information related to a new IP area to effectively protect a new technology, such as AI, block chain, metaverse, etc., and △ to cooperate in examination in the industrial design area.
Since the range of cooperation between the two, which was previously focused on patent examination and information, has expanded to patent information and industrial design, etc. through this MOU as signed, cooperative projects in more diverse areas are expected to be discovered and promoted.