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In spite of COVID-19 crisis, the number of the PCT international patent applications filed with KIPO has been recording at an all-time high(News Letter No.445)



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1.In spite of COVID-19 crisis, the number of the PCT international patent applications filed with KIPO has been recording at an all-time high

-Filing the applications for the digital transformation and ‘untact’ (meaning “non-contact”)-related technology has been active.

According to KIPO, in spite of the global COVID-19 crisis, the number of the PCT international applications filed with KIPO was 15,231 (based on October 2020), increasing by 3.7% compared to the same period of the previous year and recording the highest ever. The yearly number of the PCT applications this year is expected to break the all-time high.

South Korea’s rise was remarkable in an increase rate of the PCT applications published by the end of August this year, in which an international comparison was possible.

Among the major top ten (10) nations, South Korea’s rate of increase (4.6%) in the number of the PCT applications (based on August 2020) was 2nd highest following China (25%). Contrasted with South Korea’s increasing trend, Japan showed a 3.9% decrease and US showed an 0.1% decrease in the number of PCT applications (based on August 2020). The number of the PCT international applications officially published by WIPO was based on the end of August 2020.

South Korea’s increase in the number of PCT applications (October 2020) is considered as resulting from Korean companies’ and universities’ positive actions to preempt intellectual property (IP) rights and to secure a global IP competitiveness for overseas market entry.

By the types of applicants, the numbers of PCT applications filed by big companies, small and medium companies and universities all increased by 4.3%, 2.0% and 16.7%, respectively, and therefore industry and academia all have do the efforts to secure international IP rights.

Under the situation that major advanced nations’ negative economic growth in this year are estimated due to the COVID-19 crisis, South Korea’s all-time high in the number of PCT applications is expected, showing a positive signal in economic recovery and future growth.

Upon reviewing the features by technical fields, filing the applications in the digital transformation- and untact-related technical fields has been active.

Among the total of PCT applications, the weight of the applications in the digital communication, computer technique, audio/video-related technologies, which are essential for digital transformation and untact, has continued to increase for the last three (3) years.

2. KIPO’s and CNIPA’s presidents held a video conference

The Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (KIPTAB) of KIPO held a video conference with the Patent Reexamination Board (PRB) of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) in the international conference room of KIPO, to improve the trial quality and to expand trial cooperation.

In this video conference, the heads of both KIPTAB and PRB discussed main activity content to improve the quality of a trial and conducted mutual intensive announcements and discussions on determining patentability of an invention in the electronic commerce field which has rapidly increased due to COVID-19

KIPTAB and PRB have held high-level talks every year, to promote the mutual understanding and harmonization of the trial systems and this conference was the 7th.

KIPTAB explained the ‘reorganization content of the trial boards and the effects expected after the reorganization’, which was subdivided by technical fields and careers and has been enforced in July this year to reinforce the professionalism in trials and the fidelity in court hearings. PRB presented the ‘mechanism to manage the quality of trials and the management activities thereof’ as the main content.

Regarding the determination of patentability of an invention related to online product sales, the filing of patent applications of which have been active in accordance with the social distancing due to COVID-19, patent examiners of the two nations had time to understand the judgement differences between the two, by mutually comparing specific cases.

3. K-patents and K-brands are protected in global IP disputes

-KIPO launched a ‘IP dispute response center’ on November 27, 2020.

An IP dispute-specialized organization to support a Korean export company has been launched in preparation for a patent attack from an foreign company including Japan.

KIPO opened the ‘IP dispute response center’ (hereinafter, referred to as the ‘response center’) in the Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency (KIPPA) on November 27, 2020 and announced to strengthen the support for a Korean export company to respond to an IP dispute.

A global IP dispute of a Korean company has become an issue by a global trade dispute and the Corona pandemic.

In this regard, KIPO will strengthen the support for Korean companies by launching the ‘response center’ as an organization to effectively cope with the issues such as patent disputes and K-brand infringements in the fields of materials, components and equipment.

The ‘response center’ will gradually carry forward ① one-stop support as to patent disputes relating to materials, components and equipment, ② patent dispute support cooperation with technical advisory groups in KAIST materials, components and equipment, and ③ support to block an infringement of a K-brand abroad.

□ ‘One-stop support’ from a diagnosis of a patent dispute possibility to a response to an infringement trial:

The ‘response center’ is to expand the nation to be dispute-monitored from US to Japan, Europe and China to grasp the situation of minor disputes in the fields of materials, components and equipment, and it is to collect information on not only an infringement trial but also an invalidation trial and an objection/appeal.

□ Operation of a minor dispute-related advisory group - Cooperation with KAIST technical advisory group:

The ‘response center’ is to cooperate with a KAIST minor-dispute technical advisory group to enhance the expertise in dispute advisory. KIPPA signed with KAIST an agreement to ‘cooperate in an IP protection work in the materials, components and equipment industry’.

□ Support to block an infringement of a K-brand abroad

The ‘response center’ is to gradually expand monitoring on an overseas trademark broker’s unauthorized preemption of a trademark and a counterfeit product distributed through an overseas online shopping mall, from China to ASEAN six (6) nations.

After monitoring, the ‘response center’ is to strengthen the legal responses, such as an objection, an invalidation trial, etc., with respect to an unauthorizedly preoccupied trademark and to reinforce support for follow-up measures of blocking online distribution of a counterfeit product, conducting administrative control and sending a warning notice, etc.

Further, the ‘response center’ is to support an effective dispute settlement by grasping the damage status caused by an overseas trademark broker, etc. and building a joint response system between victims (damaged companies).

4. The barrier of 10 nano breaks by Extreme-Ultra Violet (EUV)

-A Korean company and academia have made a good fight in the semiconductor EUV lithography technology

The EUV lithography technology is to draw a semiconductor circuit pattern by using EUV having a short wavelength being less than 1/10 than argon fluoride laser and it is essential to draw an ultra-fine circuit pattern which is less than 10 nano.

The EUV lithography technology as an advanced technological integration, such as multilayer mirror, multilayer mask, pellicle, light source, resist, etc., has been intensively researched and developed by the Global companies including Samsung Electronics for the last ten (10) years to preoccupy the technology and has been first applied to mass production of an application processor (AP) for a 5 nano smartphone passing 7 nano.

According to KIPO’s analysis of the patent applications for the EUV lithography technology over the last ten (10) years (2011~2020), the number of these applications was 88 at the peak in 2014, 55 in 2018 and 50 in 2019. Specially, as the number of the applications filed by Korean applicants has passed that by foreign applicants since 2019, the Korean technology is considered as entering a period of growth.

By companies, Carl Zeiss (Germany) filed 18% of the number of these applications, Samsung Electronics 15%, ASML (Netherland) 11%, S&S TECH (Korea) 8%, TSMC (Taiwan) 6%, and SK Hynix 1%, showing that the six (6) major global companies held 59% of the total of these applications.

By detailed technologies, the process technology was 32%, the lithography equipment technology 31%, mask 28% and the others 9%. In the process technology field, Samsung Electronics filed 39% and TSMC (Taiwan) filed 15%, showing that the number of the relevant applications filed by the two companies was 54%. In the mask field, S&S Tech (Korea) filed 28%, HOYA (Japan) 15%, Hanyang University 10%, Asahi Glass (Japan) 10% and Samsung Electronics 9%.  


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