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The patent ‘provisional application’ system is actively used in the industry(News Letter No.446)



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1. The patent ‘provisional application’ system is actively used in the industry

-A thesis, a research note, etc. after research and development may be submitted to be used to easily secure the filing date of an application.

The system allowing a ‘temporary specification’ to be submitted when a patent application is filed has been actively used by companies since the system was operated at the beginning of this year.

The term, ‘temporary specification’, means a specification which describes a technical content to obtain a patent, without following the prescribed form of an application, in a free form such as a thesis or research note, etc.

Prior to the operation of the temporary specification system, since a specification must be submitted in the prescribed format when filing a patent application, it would take time to remake a research result like a thesis, etc. to meet with the specification format requirements and therefore it would be difficult to rapidly file an application.

In the electronic and communication technologies where it is important to secure a patent of a standard technology, there was great difficulty in preparing a specification even though strategies were needed to rapidly file a patent application in real time while an international standardization meeting is held.

KIPO prepared the system allowing a temporary specification to be submitted when filing a patent or utility model application by revising the Enforcement Rules of the Korean Patent Law and Utility Model Law on March 30, 2020.

According to KIPO, after the system was enforced, the number of patent and utility model applications filed by October 2020 by submitting temporary specifications was a total of 2,534 and thus about 360 cases were submitted on a monthly average.

The technical fields using the most temporary specifications are the fields where a lot of new technologies appear, such as electronic communication technology (21%), computerization and data processing technology (14%), medical technology (9%). By the types of applicants, big companies (39%) more actively use the temporary specification system, compared to midsize companies and small/medium companies (30%) and individuals (20%).

Of the total (158,725) of patent and utility model applications filed from January to September 2020, midsize companies and small/medium companies filed 24% and individuals filed 21%, which were higher than the 17% filed by big companies. Compared to this, it is clear that big companies positively used the temporary specification format.

In the case of big companies, they seem to use a lot of temporary specifications for the purpose to submit technical data in foreign languages as they are.

According to KIPO, 53% (514 cases) of the temporary specifications (979 cases) submitted by big companies are in foreign languages.

From 2015, KIPO allows a specification in a foreign language to be submitted when filing a patent application. Since using the temporary specification system, the presentation material or thesis made in a foreign language can be submitted as it is, the merit is that a company or research institute performing a lot of R&D may initially file a patent application very easily.

2. The 3rd meeting between the Commissioners of KIPO-ASEAN Intellectual Property Portal (ASEAN IPP) was held

-The two Commissioners agreed to participate in the industrial innovation organization and to cooperate for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

KIPO held the 3rd meeting of the Commissioners of KIPO and ASEAN IPP on November 25, 2020 as an online video conference, to discuss the IP cooperative program status and future plans.

The 1st meeting of the Commissioners of KIPO and ASEAN IPP was held in 2018 and the 2nd meeting was held in South Korea in 2019, taking an opportunity of the Korea-ASEAN Commemorative Summit to adopt a ‘joint declaration on IP cooperation’.

In the 3rd meeting, KIPO proposed to expand an IP cooperation platform through a KIPO-ASEAN industrial innovation organization and conducted a policy dialogue on the ASEAN IP field according to the recently signed RCEP. RCEP is a multiparty FTA where the fifteen nations including ASEAN ten (10) nations and South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand participate.

In the process of carrying forward the establishment of the KIPO-ASEAN IPP industrial innovation organization in 2021 to efficiently fulfill joint R&D, technical transfer and commercialization, etc., KIPO-ASEAN IPP agreed to reinforce the cooperation in IP fields by using this organization.

When IP is added to the technical development with ASEAN, a considerable synergy effect is expected to both sides of KIPO and ASEAN IPP. Through this, Korean companies’ technological cooperation and market advance in ASEAS are expected to expand.

KIPO proposed to share the information of ASEAN nations’ respective preparation of implementation in RCEP IP fields. If any difficulties were in such preparation, KIPO also explained that it would be possible to support in system and policy designs through the KIPO’s IP consulting program.

3. Filing the applications for an electric automobile battery and a hydrogen automobile fuel cell by an automobile company has been active

According to KIPO, filing patent applications related to eco-friendly rechargeable batteries (an electric automobile battery and a hydrogen automobile fuel cell) filed by automobile companies has been active. The number of the battery-related patent applications filed by automobile companies was a total of 4,435 from 2010 to 2019, increasing by 56% from 227 in 2010 to 433 in 2019.

Accordingly, the proportion of the battery-related applications, among the total patent applications filed by automobile companies, increased from 7.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2019. As market has changes from an internal combustion engine automobile to an eco-friendly automobile, the aforementioned increase is considered as a result that the automobile companies have gradually increased the proportion of research and development relating to batteries which are called as the heart of eco-friendly automobiles.

By companies, Hyundai Motor Group filed 56.4% of the battery-related applications filed by the automobile companies, Toyota Motor Company 27.6%, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance 11.5% and Volkswagen Group (Audi, Porsche, etc.) 2.4%.

Tesla, which is No. 1 company in global electronic automobiles, accounted only for 0.25% of the battery-related Korean patent applications filed by automobile companies. In the US which is the home of the electronic automobile, Tesla filed only a total of 37 whereas the top five (5) global automobile companies filed an average of 696 patent applications by each company during the last five (5) years (2014~2018).

This tendency is considered to be based on the following point: the existing automobile companies have been able to steadily develop the battery technology in preparation for the eco-friendly automobile era based on the stable automobile sales; whereas the newly born electronic automobile companies, like Tesla, have depended on batteries, which need long-term accumulated technology, on an outsourcing supply and demand of a professional battery company and have concentrated upon the improvement of an external efficiency such as the design and structure, etc. of an electronic automobile for rapid growth.

Upon reviewing eco-friendly automobiles divided into an electronic car and a hydrogen automobile, automobile companies filed an annual average of 263 applications for an electronic automobile battery and an annual average of 180 applications for a hydrogen automobile fuel cell. The proportion of the hydrogen automobile fuel cell-related applications filed by Korean automobile companies was higher as 56.8%; whereas the proportion of the electronic automobile battery-related applications filed by foreign automobile companies was higher as 80.4%. This enables one to measure the difference between Korean and foreign automobile companies in the approach direction of a future eco-friendly automobile.

4. The number of patent applications for air purification to simultaneously block fine dust and virus has rapidly increased

- The number of indoor antibacterial and antiviral air purification-related patent applications totaled 238 since 2016, increasing by 28% compared to 2019.

According to KIPO, as a result of analyzing 238 patent applications filed over the last five (5) years from 2016 in the field of an indoor antibacterial and antiviral air purification, the number of the relevant applications increased from 38 in 2016 to 64 in 2020 (based on September), showing an increase of 14% on annual average. Based on this, the number of the relevant applications is expected to be 70 or more in 2020 (based on December).

The number of these applications in 2020 (based on September), 64, already sharply increased by 28% compared to 50 in 2019.

Specifically, 49 applications were filed within March to July and specifically, 11 in April, 11 in June and 12 in July. This is considered as resulting from the fact that the applications were filed in view of the time that COVID-19 pandemic was declared and COVID-19 fully spread in South Korea.

Upon reviewing the application trends filed over the last five (5) years starting 2016 by major detailed technologies, 63 applications (26.5%) relate to the types of filters, 38 (16.0%) to the UV sterilization technology, 25 (10.5%) to the materials forming filters, 20 (8.4%) to the wet technology to clean using water, 19 (8.0%) to the plasma and anion technology, 7 (2.9%) to the electrostatic precipitator technology. So, it can be known that technological development has been performed in various ways for indoor antibacterial and antiviral air purification.

Noteworthy, the number of patent applications combining ultraviolet (UV) rays or a filter having a microbicidal function to a negative pressure device in a ward was only 2 in 2019 but increased to 15 after March 2020. This shows that the patent applications were rapidly filed enhancing the technology which was urgently required in the front line relating to COVID-19 treatment.

In addition, upon reviewing the applications filed over the last five (5) years by the types of applicants, 95 applications (39.9%) were filed by small and medium companies, 87 (36.6%) by individuals, 33 (13.9%) by big companies, 23 (9.7%) by universities and research institutes, showing the proportion of the applications filed by small and medium companies and individuals was relatively high.

The reason is because it is easy for a small capital company or an individual to approach the antibacterial and antiviral air purification technology while the indoor air purification-related market has continued to expand.  


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