1. It is now possible to file an application for IP by smartphone
- Most civil affairs in KIPO are possible by mobile devices.
- Accelerating the shift to IP service digitalization expands the convenience to the public.
An application for a patent, utility model or design can be easily and quickly filed anytime and anywhere by using a smartphone.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the electronic filing system reorganization work finished so that a ‘mobile filing system’ has been expanded and opened from December 23, 2020.
For the first in the world, KIPO introduced the trademark application filing system service using a mobile device on March 16, 2020. Following that, from December 23, 2020 a mobile filing system has been expanded to include four (4) IP rights including patent, utility model and design applications in addition to a trademark application.
Due to the mobile filing system reorganization, anyone with a smartphone is able to easily establish the filing date of an application, without any restrictions of time and place.
A service for ‘mobile payment of fees’ is provided by this system reorganization. A user can look up various fees to be paid to KIPO (such as fees for filing an application, fees for registration, etc.) and conveniently pay the fees by smartphone.
In addition, most civil affairs in KIPO (such as receiving a notice, viewing an examination progress status, issuing a registration certificate) are available by a mobile device.
2. A 2020 seminar for ASEAN IP right acquisition strategies was held
On December 22, 2020 KIPO held the ‘seminar for ASEAN IP right acquisition strategies’ for the companies to enter the ASEAN countries, through a KIPO official YouTube channel (ttps://www.youtube.com/user/kipoworld).
In the situation that the importance of ASEAN has been more emphasized as Korean companies’ major investment target countries and production bases after prolonged trade friction between US and China, this seminar was prepared to help the Korean companies to rapidly settle locally through IP rights.
KIPO made the effort to improve the IP protection environments of the individual countries of ASEAN and continued to develop the IP examination cooperation programs with them so that the Korean companies entering the relevant regions can properly benefit from IP rights in the improved environments to protect IP rights.
With these efforts by KIPO, the Korean companies entering Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia have been able to get locally very rapid examinations of the applications which are the same as the applications allowed in South Korea.
As for the Korean companies entering Cambodia, Laos and Brunei, if their patents were registered in South Korea, the effects of the patents registered in South Korea are recognized only by filing the same applications in these countries, without any examination processes.
Notably, since Cambodia operates a design quick registration system to quickly register all designs in the applications filed by Korean companies or Korean people, compared to the other applications, a Korean company entering Cambodia can enjoy broader IP benefits.
This online seminar introduced the major content of the patent and design examination cooperation programs operated by ASEAN countries and the local advancement case studies using these programs. The seminar also guided the strategies to properly use these programs.
In the last order of the seminar, a one-on-one consultation time was arranged to solve the IP-related problems that the Korean companies entering the ASEAN markets actually experienced locally.
3. Various IP rights in the digital service field are acquired at once
- The improved collective examination system for patent, utility model, trademark and design application has been operated from December 8, 2020.
According to KIPO, the collective examination system to improve the collective examination requesting requirements has been operated from December 8, 2020 such that a company can acquire different IP rights at once in the digital service field which has attracted attention by promoting the digital new deal.
The collective examination is a system to examine patent, utility model, trademark and design applications at once and therefore, this is a useful means where a company can form an IP portfolio in time of business process.
In spite of this intention, since the collective examination requesting requirements were previously restricted to be relate to ‘one product’ and the procedures were cumbersome, such as several visits to KIPO, the use of the collective examination system was stagnant.
For example, since the requirements were restricted as a ‘product’, only the shape to be seen, like parts or equipment, etc., were recognized and the service not showing a shape, like a smartphone app, would have difficulty in using the collective examination system.
To solve these problems, KIPO expanded the collective examination requirement related to the ‘one product’ to ‘a group of products including a service’.
Thereby, the companies which prepare the contactless online platform services, etc. based on the digital convergence technologies (artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, etc.) can easily and freely secure various IP rights. When a collective examination is related a plurality of products, it is possible to request collective examination by collecting the related products at once, without the hassle of separately requesting the examination per each product.
In addition, the procedures have been improved to explain, in writing a subject to be collectively examined, so that it does not require a visit to KIPO. The collective examination requirements have been eased to add the effectiveness such that a start up (a small or medium company which has been only 3 years or less from being established as a business) which is in desperate need of acquiring an IP right for commercialization, etc.
Specifically, when a startup company requests an accelerated examination to get a collective examination, the fees for requesting the examination are reduced by 70%.
4. A design in the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is protected
- A legal support system of a new technology design protection is built for digital and contactless industrial development.
KIPO announced that it would carry forward an amendment to the Design Protection Law which is the related laws, to independently protect a new technology image design.
Under the current Design Protection Law, since it is possible to protect an image design only when it is expressed in goods, an image design which is projected to an outside wall surface or space cannot be registered as a design.
In the era of digital revolution, a new type of a design product combined with AR, VR, etc. has been released, the importance of a design has increased considerably and the industrial scale of a new technology design has also grown.
US and EU strengthen the protection of a new technology design, such as GUI (graphic user interface), icons, etc. The need to protect a new technology design has been further increased for a Korean company’s new industry creation and overseas market attack.
Accordingly, KIPO will expand an image design as a new protection subject, regulate to enable its independent protection, and include an assignment, rental, etc. using the online transfer of an image design and the recording media (USB, CD) thereof as the actions of using a design right.
5. The Commissioners of KIPO, CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) and JPO (Japanese Patent Office) decided to come together to cooperate with ASEAN
- A 20th meeting of the Commissioners agreed with the cooperation of KIPO, CNIPA and JPO with ASEAN
On December 1, 2020, KIPO held the 20th video meeting of the Commissioners of KIPO, CNIPA and JPO.
Since the three commissioners established cooperation in 2001 for exchanging patent examination information and harmonizing the patent systems, they held the 20th meeting this year.
The three, KIPO, CNIPA and JPO, have been trying to strengthen the IP protection levels so that applicants may early acquire IP rights and are sufficiently guaranteed their rights, by holding the expert meetings by six (6) cooperative areas, such as patent, information, etc., for the last 20 years.
As a result, the proportion of the patent applications filed with the three to the worldwide patent applications increased from about 40% in 2001 to about 60% at present. The proportion of the trademark applications rapidly increased from about 10% to about 60% over the same period. So, the three have truly grown as the biggest IP economic power in the world.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of cooperation, the three established the cooperative visions for the future 10 years with the following major tasks and agreed to adopt them in their future summit meeting:
First, the three will jointly cope with new challenges, such as digital transformation, COVID-19, etc. and improve the examination systems and practices of KIPO, CNIPA and JPO to create and protect innovative technology.
Second, the three will improve the accessibility and utility of the IP information owned by each of them, to seek technology development and innovative growth
Third, the three will carry forward the IP cooperation between KIPO•CNIPA•JPO and ASEAN, to contribute to bridge the IP gap with ASEAN.
Notably, this meeting has a different meaning since the three Commissioners first discussed the cooperation with ASEAN since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) joined by the three on November 15, 2020 was finally signed.
Since RCEP includes 83 IP-related articles, for ASEAN countries to fulfill these articles, it is essential to extensively revise their IP laws. However, ASEAN countries having weak IP infrastructures will need to consume a lot of time and effort in revising their laws.
Therefore, the three decided to promote the IP cooperation between KIPO•CNIPA•JPO and ASEAN to support ASEAN in revising their IP laws and introducing systems. To this end, the three will continue future detailed discussions through working-level conferences.