1. IP strategies are to be intensively supported to improve BIG3 industrial competitiveness
-IP-R&D are supported for about 100 companies in BIG3 areas, etc.
-Preferential examination is supported and patent examination guideline is established for BIG3 technology.
On February 1, 2021, the Korean Government announced an ‘intensive support plan for IP in BIG3 industries’ by the joint ministries concerned in the 4th conference for the promotion of BIG3 innovation growth which was held in the Government Complex-Seoul. The BIG3 industries include future cars, bio and system semiconductor.
Based on the results of analyzing that Korean IP competitiveness is still low while the battle for global initiative in BIG3 industries by the major foreign countries including USA and China, etc. has been fierce, this intensive support plan was presented to improve the IP competitiveness in the BIG3 industries by expanding the IP strategies supporting the technology independence such as localization of core parts, etc. according to Japan’s export regulations of materials, parts and equipment in 2019.
R&D Innovation Support is to derive BIG3 industrial promising technology through a patent analysis and to provide IP-R&D support for about 100 companies in the new growth engine areas including BIG3, etc.
A R&D promising technology of the national main industry including BIG3, etc. is derived by analyzing the world IP bigdata, and the correlated cooperation system among the related ministries is strengthened such that the derived technology can be reflected from the early beginning state of the national R&D plan.
IP-R&D is supported for about 100 companies selected from the promising companies designated by the related ministries, including the companies in the new growth engine areas, such as BIG3, digital, green new deal, etc. and innovative companies 1000, etc.
BIG3 IP Creation is to build a patent examination system for rapidly and strongly obtaining a right in BIG3 areas and to expand the support of overseas IP cost for small and medium companies.
Preferential examination is positively applied to the BIG3 industrial areas including hydrogen cars, self-driving cars, intelligent semiconductors, innovative new medicines, customized healthcare, etc. A department in charge of BIG3 IP examination is operated with expert examiners. Patent granting standards customized by industries will be established for expansion of patent protection in the BIG3 industrial areas including autonomous driving, bio, medicine, etc.
IP comprehensive services are provided to small and medium companies and startups in the BIG3 areas. Support for these companies in cost to secure overseas IP rights is strengthened by forming funds investing in foreign IP applications. Creation of a standard patent in new technology areas, such as BIG3, is supported.
Dispute Reponses is to build a system responsive to an IP dispute by operation an ‘IP dispute response center’, etc. and to support in responding to an overseas IP infringement.
The number of countries to be frequently monitored regarding dispute information by the IP dispute response center which started in November last year is to be expanded and a one-stop response to a dispute is to be supported, focused on the current issues including materials, parts and equipment and BIG3, among others.
Especially, company-based responsive strategies are to be expanded so that BIG3 industrial export companies may directly select necessary strategies according to the dispute situation, and an advance diagnosis for a dispute risk by using experts in technology and dispute is to be provided.
2. KIPO helps ‘E-File an Application Yourself’
-KIPO receives a request for the programs, ‘outreach education to support you in e-filing’ and ‘IP invitation education’.
To support an individual and a small or medium company that needs education in e-filing an application and IP rights, from March 2, 2021 KIPO starts receiving requests for participating in the free programs, ‘outreach education to support you in e-filing’ and ‘IP invitation education’.
`Outreach education to support you in e-filing’ is a requester-customized education program that a specialist instructor directly visits in person and educates focused on practice.
Previously, this program was conducted through a visit only, however, it has been improved such that from this year, a requester can select a visit or video meeting platform-based online mode, since a visit for education is impossible due to COVID-19.
The education course includes a total of 9 courses from a basic course including the introduction of IP rights, information search, application e-filing, etc. to a specialized course. This program is operated such that a requester can select a necessary course to be of substantial help to one that is preparing for filing an application in Korea or overseas.
The number of educations plans to be about 100 per year, considering a request area, a request target, an education course, an education method, etc.
In addition, ‘IP invitation education’ newly established in this year provides an individual and a small company having less than 10 people with a basic education program on how to e-file an application and to search information.
The content of education will be focused on the basic education on the e-filing of an application and the information search, by establishing an annual education course in the order of a patent and a utility model, a trademark, and a design.
As an education method, an online education using a video conference platform will be operated such that a requester can participate in real-time in an education class once per quarter. For this, 50 requests or less will be received on a first-come-first-served basis.
3. KIPO introduces AI in examination work of trademark and design applications
-An AI-based trademark and design search systems are open, accelerating a digital transition
According to KIPO, the trademark and design image search system to which the AI technology is applied has been developed and this system has started the service to be used in examination and trial work from February 15, 2021.
By the opening of this system, the previous method that trademark and design examiners had to search thousands of images per examination case with the naked eyes has been innovated, sharply shortening the time required for search and enhancing the accuracy of the examination.
To build the AI-based image search system, KIPO used, as the AI learning data, about more than 2,000,000 trademark and design images held by KIPO and had research proof, implementation and test operation for 2 years.
The major function of this image search system is to show a result of searching an image filed in an application and images previously registered, comparing them and sorting them in order of similarity.
Notably, it is possible to search by recognizing a partial image in an image with a plurality of shapes combined. For example, when searching a bag image, it is possible to search, at once, a similar image with respect to the appearance of a bag and the logo and character printed on the bag.
This system also supports AI to automatically recommend and designate a class code with respect to classification of a trademark or a design.
Last year, KIPO completed applying the AI technology to the digitalization of written documents, translation of foreign patent documents, and recognition of patent drawing numbers. This year, KIPO has been in researching and developing a public counseling (‘chatbot’, which is computer program or AI with the conversation function in text or voice), intelligent patent search and automatic classification, etc.
As a road map to improve the efficiency in examination and trial work by introducing the AI technology overall patent administration has been smoothly implemented, it promotes the conversion to the digital government.
4. A patent application is easily and rapidly filed with a PDF file, etc.
-The fees for filing an application are reduced when e-filing a ‘provisional specification’ made in the PDF form.
-A partial amendment to the ‘collection rules of patent fees, etc.’ has taken effect from February 15, 2021.
To encourage that a patent application be rapidly filed, KIPO announced to reduce the fees for filing an application, which should be paid when e-filing a provisional specification made in commercial software.
The provisional specification system is that a patent application is filed by immediately attaching a thesis or a research note made in the commercial software, such as PDF, HWP, etc., regardless of the description format of a specification (March 2020).
When an application is e-filed attaching the provisional specification, such as the thesis, research note, etc. made in the commercial software, the fees for filing an application was previously 56,000 Korea Won but it is now 46,000 Korea Won by reducing the fees by 10,000 Korea Won.
But, when a formal specification in a written form is submitted after a patent application has been filed with a provisional specification, the applicant should pay part of the cost for digitizing the document.
In addition, to encourage joint-research with a small/medium company, when anyone performs joint-research with a small/medium company and then files jointly a patent application relating to the result of the research, a 50% discount is applied to each of the fees for filing the relevant application, the fees for requesting an examination thereof, and the fees for registering the patent after its allowance.
Meanwhile, sometimes a foreign company, etc. describes a number of inventions in one international patent application with the purpose of lessening the international search fees and requests an international search. So, where a number of inventions is described in one international patent application, additional official fees are to be paid so that an applicant should bear the same international search fees as a normal international search request case.