1.The filing of patent applications is doing well in the aftermath of COVID-19
-The number of patent applications filed abroad by Korean companies during January through April 2020 has increased
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the number of patent applications has shown a big increase in spite of the aftermath of the COVID-19.
The number of Korean patent applications filed by April 2020 is 65,499, showing an increase of 2.9% compared with the same period of the last year. Specially, the number of the PCT international patent applications received with KIPO is a total of 5,899, showing an increase of 12.6% compared with the same period of the last year.
Considering that an annual average increase rate of Korean patent applications over the last five years (2015~2019) was 0.6% and that of PCT international patent application was 6.7%, the filing of patent applications has been more active in spite of the difficulties due to the COVID-19.
The subjects leading these increases in the number of patent applications are Korean companies including big companies (with an increase of 9.8% compared with the same period of the last year), and small and medium companies (with an increase of 6.6%). This situation is compared with foreign companies (with a decrease of 0.5%) and Korean individuals (0.2%) which stagnated in the number of applications filed.
Similarly, the increase in the number of the PCT international patent applications has been lead by big companies (with an increase of 21.0%) and small and medium companies (with an increase of 6.5%).
2.A design dispute which is difficult to be resolved is rapidly settled by an ‘intellectual property dispute mediation committee’
KIPO has operated the intellectual property dispute mediation committee to help in early settling of a design dispute. Through the intellectual property dispute mediation committee, a result of mediation by an expert mediator is available within three months, without any fees. Upon the mediation is established, it has the same effect as a consent judgement. Since the rate of completion of mediation in design disputes (46%) is higher than that in patent disputes (31%) and trademark disputes (36%), the effectiveness in operating the dispute mediation committee system is also high.
Especially, since it will be possible to request mediation from the dispute mediation committee as to an act of unfair competition including an imitation of the shape of goods since August 2020, disputes will be more effectively settled.
A spokesperson of KIPO said, “we hope those that encountered a design infringement or an imitation of the shape of goods but had burden in proceeding with a lawsuit can positively use the dispute mediation committee system.”
3.The Republic of Korea and Europe determined to continue strengthening the IP cooperation in the COVID-19 situation
-The two decided to continue the cooperative activities, including the dispatch of Korean IP experts.
Mr. Park Won-Joo, Commissioner of KIPO, held a video meeting with Mr. Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in the KIPO Seoul office.
The two offices agreed with the situation that the cooperation from each country is important due to the COVID-19 and the decision that the cooperation should continue in spite of such an obstruction.
Spain where EUIPO is located has the most damages due to COVID-19, following the US. This meeting held with EUIPO had deep significance in the point that it was held in the very difficult situation of Spain having a super-strong restriction of a nationwide lockdown to block the spread of COVID-19 on March 14, 2020.
All staff of EUIPO work at home. Through this meeting, the two offices agreed with that: even though an unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 lasts, they would continue the KIPO-EUIPO cooperative activities including the dispatch of Korean IP experts which has been carried forward, the renewal of the comprehensive MOU between KIPO and EUIPO, etc., and they would use the current crisis as an opportunity.
4.The National Assembly has passed an amendment to the Korean Patent Law to actualize the amount of compensation for damage
-The method of calculating the amount of damages is improved, expecting to maximize the effect of three times compensation system.
-The protection of innovative ideas of small and medium companies, venture companies and start-ups is expected to be strengthened.
-Among IP 5 countries, the Republic of Korea builds only the system for the compensation for damage.
According to KIPO, the partial amendment to the Korean Patent Act to allow the amount for damages by the sale of an infringer’s products exceeding a patentee’s production capability pass a main session of the National Assembly on May 20, 2020 and the amended law will be effective in December 2020.
Under the current Patent Law, in a case where a patentee’s production capability is to produce 100 products, even if an infringer sells 10,000 infringing products in a market, the patentee cannot be properly compensated as to 9,900 products exceeding the patentee’s production capability (100 products).
When the amended Law is in force, the patentee can be additionally compensated from the infringer by the royalty (license fee) of the patented invention as to 9,900 products which were not subjected to the compensation of damage.
That is, the method of calculating the amount of damages is currently: patentee’s production capability range x profit per unit, however, according to the amended Law, it will be: (patentee’s production capability range x profit per unit) + (excess x reasonable royalty rate).
The US has approved this method of calculation since 1940s and Japan also has approved it since April 2020 by revising the Japanese Patent Law.
Following the US, the Republic of Korea is a second country where the amount of damage is calculated according to the amended Law and the three times compensation as to the infringement to a patent is operated. Among the IP 5 countries (the Republic of Korea, US, Europe, China and Japan), Korea is only country which stipulates both the method of calculation of damages as amended and the three times compensation into the Patent Law.
What to note is that the improvement of the system expanding the range of the amount of compensation is combined with the three times compensation system regarding the infringement of a patent. If the amount of damage is actualized according to this revision, the amount of three times compensation is expected to naturally increase. Thereby, an effect is also expected to accelerate the activation of patent technology transaction and intellectual property finance which were interrupted by the limitation of the protection of a patent.