1. The digital era has industrial competitiveness with IP innovation
-A protection system of digital new technology including AI, data, etc. has been built and the use thereof is strengthened.
* Protection of new-type digital IP, such as data, image design, etc.
* Prevention of unfair IP infringement under the digital environments, such as online transmission, etc.
* Data construction of patent, content, research, industry, and maximizing the use of IP data of an individual or company
A blueprint was prepared to protect the digital new technology, such as AI, data, etc. made during the digital new deal process and to expand the public’s use thereof.
KIPO published ‘AI and data-based digital IP innovation strategies’ in a 28th Presidential Council on Intellectual Property held by the Prime Minister as a Sejong-Seoul video conference on February 23, 2021.
As online economic activity has increased due to COVID-19, the conversion to digital has accelerated and the digital IP to be newly protected, such as AI creation, data, hologram trademark, image design, etc. has emerged.
Accordingly, it is urgent to revise laws and systems to create new IP from the digital new technology, such as AI, data, etc. and it is necessary to strategically use IP data, such as patent, content, research, industry data, across the industrial value chain.
With a vision of ‘Realization of a digital powerhouse through AI and data-based IP innovation, the Korean Government with the relevant authorities including the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, etc., have jointly prepared 4 big strategies and 8 detailed assignments.
The major content of this innovative strategies is to:
-innovate the IP laws and systems to respond to the digital transition;
-build infrastructure so that an individual and a company can easily use IP data on a patent, research, industry, etc.;
-strengthen the IP-based digital industrial competitiveness; and
-lead a new IP trade order.
2. Careful IP strategies become the navigation to enhance the R&D achievements
-KIPO input 40.4 billion Korea Won in supporting the IP-based R&D (IP-R&D) strategies in 2021.
KIPO announced to fully operate a program to support of 21’ IP-R&D strategies, which creates high value-added patents and enhances R&D achievements by strategically analyzing patent data during the R&D process.
The program to support the IP-R&D strategies is to provide the comprehensive R&D strategies on responding to a patent barrier, presenting the optimum R&D directions regarding a blank technology and securing an excellent patent, etc., by the support team’s in-depth analysis of patent information related to the technology developed by small/medium companies, mid-sized companies, universities and public research institutes. The support team consists of a patent strategical expert and a patent analyzing agent.
When research is performed by in-depth analyzing the prior patent information from the beginning of R&D to derive the direction that technology changes and the useful information, such as a patent blank area and to detour and avoid a patent barrier preoccupied by a foreign company, a risk of a patent dispute can be prevented in advance, to rapidly arrive the development of innovative technology.
The R&D tasks of the small/medium companies that received the support of IP-R&D strategies over the last 5 years (2015~2019) are higher in the quality level of created patents, with the ratio of excellent patents which is higher by 2.0 times, compared to the government R&D tasks of the small/medium companies that did not receive the support and with the ratio of patents simultaneously filed with the USPTO, EPO and JPO which is 3.1 times.
Since the R&D tasks in the materials, parts and equipment areas were intensively supported last year, a dispute risk caused by a patent barrier preoccupied by a competitive leading company was solved and the result of filing 389 patent applications (accumulated as of January 2021) relating to the core technology was obtained.
This year, a budget of 40.4 billion Korea Won, increased by about 12% compared to the last year (36.1 billion Korea Won) is input to support a total of 526 R&D tasks. Through the expanded budget, the support is to continue in the materials, parts and equipment areas which had been intensively supported from 2020 and to be provided focusing on the industrial areas for expanding a future growth potential, such as BIG3 (system semiconductors, future cars and bio health), DNA (big data, communication, AI) and the Korean version of New Deal, etc.
3. The restriction to the number of drawings in a three-dimensional trademark sample is relieved
-The revision to the Enforcement Rules of the Korean Trademark Law is expected to improve the convenience of an applicant of a trademark application.
According to KIPO, the revision to the Enforcement Rules of the Korean Trademark Law has taken effect (February 1, 2021) to improve the convenience of an applicant of a trademark application and to reflect the changing transaction modes. The revision includes easing the restriction to the number of drawings in a three-dimensional trademark sample.
The major content of the revision to the Enforcement Rules of the Korean Trademark Law is as follows:
□ When an applicant files an application for a three-dimensional trademark or a location trademark, the revised Enforcement Rues has been simplified making it possible to submit only one sheet of a drawing to clearly describe the features of a sample.
Previously, since it was regulated that more than 2 sheets and less than 5 sheets of drawings should be submitted as a sample when an applicant files an application for a three-dimensional trademark or a location trademark, the applicant had the hassle to submit a number of drawings.
The major countries including USA, EU, Japan, etc. have allowed one sheet of a drawing submitted as a sample when applications for a three-dimensional trademark or a location trademark are filed. Therefore, when people of these countries file an application for a three-dimensional trademark or a location trademark with KIPO, they can conveniently use the sample submitted to their own countries.
□ Under the revised Rules, all of the amendments to an international trademark application can be made in the Korean national phase through an amendment to the Korean application.
Previously, since it was allowable to use a separate amendment to reflect all of the amendment made to an international trademark application, there was confusion that a foreign applicant (patent attorney) misunderstood an amendment form to be used to make an amendment.
Under the revised Rules, since a due date for submitting (by mail) a sample of a sound mark or a scent mark filed in an international trademark application has been extended from previously one month to three months, an applicant has time when submitting a sample by mail.
□ Regarding the trademark-related procedures, when identity verification is required, it is possible to use the seal or signature registered when a patent client number was issued, without submitting any separate seal certificate.
□ A method of indicating a registered trademark has been revised to be flexibly defined, by expecting that a method of indicating a registered trademark (such as the electronic indication such as barcode, QR code) will be diversified according to the technology development.
4. KIPO started a project, ‘IP dispute response center in 2021’
-17.1 billion Korea Won will be input in monitoring disputes and supporting response strategies.
-A hot line with materials, parts and equipment companies will be built to open a video counseling meeting.
KIPO announced to fully operate a project to protect overseas IP rights in 2021 by the IP dispute response center which started in the end of 2020 to protect the export companies’ IP and to support these companies in responding to disputes.
A total of operating expenses, 17.1 billion Korea Won, will be input in building a hot line with small and medium companies that lack capability to respond to IP disputes and in supporting focused on monitoring information on disputes and consulting about customized dispute responding strategies.
□ Expansion of the contact point between materials, parts and equipment companies and the IP dispute response center:
To closely support the materials, parts and equipment industries where the localization of technology has been progressed, a task force in charge of patent disputes in the materials, parts and equipment areas will be operated in the IP dispute response center. This task force will build the hot line with the materials, parts and equipment companies, to online provide dispute trends, response procedures by dispute types, etc.
Further, a dispute advisory group will be formed and operated to provide the materials, parts and equipment companies with pre-diagnosis of a dispute risk, to support them with an initial counseling on a dispute or to provide them with an advice on the prior art of a patent in dispute. A semiannual video counseling meeting will be also opened.
Guide of IP dispute trends and monitoring:
The target to be monitored in relation to IP disputes will be expanded from infringement litigation disputes around USA to Japan, Europe and China. Information on objections and invalidation trials in the materials, parts and equipment areas will be collected and analyzed, to be provided to the relevant companies.
Monitoring of preoccupied trademarks without permission by an overseas trademark broker and overseas online counterfeits will be expanded, to timely inform damages and to strengthen the follow-up actions, such as legal response support.
Providing consulting on IP dispute responding strategies:
Based on the information collected by monitoring and through the hot line, a dispute expert (PM) of the IP dispute response center will connect with a patent law firm, to present response strategies customized for an individual company’s dispute situation.
Especially, where a company is involved in patent infringement litigation or overseas trademark disputes, the IP dispute response center supports the company to enable a legal response within at least two weeks, by simplifying request and examination procedures for an effective response.