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In 11 years, South Korea retook the 4th place in the world in the number of PCT applications(News Letter No. 453)

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KH

Post Date 

2021-04-01

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1.In 11 years, South Korea retook the 4th place in the world in the number of PCT applications

- For the first time, South Korea passed about 20,000 PCT applications per year, showing a 5.2% increase compared to the last year.
- The number of the PCT applications filed by companies and universities increased in the digital and contactless (which is used as “Untact” in Korea) fields due to COVID-19.
- China continuously ranked first in the world in a row, widening the gap between U.S. which ranked second.

On March 4, 2021 the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) published that South Korea beat Germany and took the 4th place in the world in the number of PCT international applications filed with WIPO, following China, US and Japan. South Korean ranked 4th place (2007~2009), 5th (2010~2019) and 4th (2020) in the number of the PCT applications.

The number of the PCT applications filed by South Korea passed about 20,000 for the first time, increasing twice in 9 years since first passing 10,000 in 2011. The progress in the number of the PCT applications filed by South Korea was 10,357 (2011), 19,073 (2019) and 20,060 (2020).

Despite the worldwide recession due to COVID-19, the number of the PCT applications filed by South Korea increased by 5.2% compared to the last year, recording a high rate of increase following China (16.1%) and Switzerland (5.5%) among the top 10 countries in the number of the PCT applications.

By technical fields, the number of the PCT applications increased centering on the digital conversion and contactless fields to respond to the COVID-19 situation.

By applicants, the numbers of the PCT applications filed by universities, small/medium companies and big companies increased respectively, 17.6%, 5.6% and 2.2%, showing that the applicants continued to try to secure overseas intellectual property rights even in the hard situation of COVID-19.

The number of the PCT applications in the world in 2020 was 275,900, increasing 4.0% compared to 2019, and China filed 68,720 ranking the 1st place for 2 years in a row.

The number of the PCT applications filed by China in 2020 increased by 16.1% compared to 2019, widening the gap with US ranking 2nd place in the world, from 1,694 to 9,490. The numbers of the PCT applications filed by Japan and Germany decreased by 4.1% and 3.7% respectively, compared to 2019.

The top 10 companies in the number of the PCT applications in the world included 3 Chinese companies including Huawei (1st place), 3 Japanese companies including Mitsubish (3rd place), 2 Korean companies including Samsung Electronics (2nd place with 3,093 applications) and LG Electronics (4th place with 2,759 applications), and one US company, Qualcomm (5th place).

The number of the PCT applications filed by LG Electronics increased by 67.6% compared to 2019, recording the highest rate of increase in the number of PCT applications among the world top 10 companies. Samsung Electronics ranked up from 6th in 2018, 3rd in 2019 and 2nd in 2020 for 3 years in a row. However, LG Chemical ranked down three places, from 11th to 14th, by a decrease in the number of the PCT applications.

Huawei filed about 5,400 PCT applications in 2020 (which was similar to the total of the PCT applications filed by both of Samsung ranking 2nd place and LG Electronics ranking 4th place), ranking 1st in the world for 4 years in a row starting in 2017.



2.Designs in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are protected as intellectual property

- The Korean Design Protection Law has been amended to protect computer generated graphic designs, icons and etc. which are embodied by digital technology.

A virtual keyboard, a smart bracelet displayed on the wrist, an intelligent car headlight, etc. will be protected by being registered as designs.

According to KIPO, the Amendment to the Design Protection Law to protect computer-generated graphic designs, icons and etc. was passed the National Assembly on March 24, 2021, thereby preparing a new era to protect an intellectual property created by using digital technology.

Computer-generated graphic designs include shapes, color, and the combination thereof which are visually recognized and mean graphical user interface (GUI), icons or graphic images, etc.

In the current Design Protection Law, only a design displayed on goods is registerable and a computer-generated graphic design which is projected to be displayed on the outside wall surface or in a space by using a new technology cannot be protected as a right.

However, since the number of products using the new technologies, such as VR, AR, etc., has gradually increased due to the spread of the digital economy, the importance of the designs embodied using these technologies has also increased and the relevant industrial sizes have grown, too.

In this situation, this Amendment to the Design Protection Law has a great significance in contributing to strengthening the digital design competitiveness of Korean companies and in being the first legalization to support the digital economy in the IP areas.

In general, a Korean company files a Korean design application to obtain a design right and then files an overseas application for the same design. Therefore, the protection of a computer-generated graphic design right contributes to securing the design competitiveness of a Korean company as legal support means for its overseas market entry.

The main content of this Amendment is (i) to protect a computer-generated graphic design itself by newly establishing the definition of a computer-generated graphic design, and (ii) to expand the concept of the use of a design which has been recognized only off-line (like transaction, etc. in markets) to the internet by regulating the on-line transmission of a computer-generated graphic design as an act of use (work) thereof.



3.The Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPT) takes the lead in the protection of a right in the digital transformation era

- IPT amends the administrative rules including expansion of the subject of a preferential trial examination, etc.

On March 31, 2021, when the applications requested for a collective examination are finally rejected, IPT enforces the administrative rules reflecting the revision to consider an appeal against the final rejection as the subject of a preferential trial examination to make the rights to be reviewed early at the appeal.

A collective examination is a system to collectively examine a plurality of applications for patent, etc. which are related to a group of one product including a service, at the time the applicant wants.

In this Amendment, the subject of preferential trial examination newly includes a trial for invalidation and a trial to confirm the scope of a right of an application related to the 4th industrial revolution including bigdata, cloud computing, AI, etc.

The basis for a meeting of all chief judges has been prepared to deliberate and decide the major issues to improve the trial-related law system and to establish new standards on a case having high social interest.

In addition, this Amendment includes the content for a client’s convenience. That is, when the Korea Patent Court again judges a trial case that the decision of IPT has been cancelled, to sufficiently guarantee the parties’ opportunities to submit arguments, an estimated termination of the trial shall be given in advance to the parties before closing the trial.

This Amendment has the significance in that the system has been prepared to early settle a dispute regarding an advanced technology in the era of the 4th industrial revolution including digital innovation and convergence, etc.



4.Corona pandemic has changed the service mark map.

- Broadcast, mail-order, computer industries have risen and travel, accommodation and wedding industries have declined.

As the contactless industries have grown under the influence of the corona pandemic, the number of Korea trademark applications in the broadcast, mail-order and computer-related service businesses has greatly increased.

On the other hand, since the number of face-to-face activities has dropped (requiring social distancing, etc.), the number of the trademark applications in the travel, accommodation and wedding service businesses has decreased.

According to KIPO, the number of the trademark applications related to the service business in 2020 totaled 130,811 despite the influence of COVID-19, showing an increase of 15.7% compared to 113,050 in 2019.

What led to this is the contactless-based service businesses and the relevant broadcast, mail-order and computer-related businesses.

[Increase in the number of trademark applications in the broadcast, mail-order and computer-related businesses, due to contactless and digital transformation, etc.]

By major service businesses, the broadcast business has the largest increase of 56.8%, followed by the mail-order business (45.9%), the computer-related business (31.1%) and the mail-order business (26.6%).

Specifically, the increase tendency in the broadcast, mail-order and computer-related businesses is remarkable. This is related to an internet platform, one-person broadcast and computer software, etc., which are the contactless-based service businesses for distance education, working at home, staying at home, etc., reflecting the change to the contactless and online work.

Additionally, the number of the trademark applications relating to the wholesale and retail (mail-order) businesses greatly increased by 26.6%. This is considered as due to the increase in online shopping, etc. by consumers due to the social distancing.

[Decrease in the number of trademark applications in the travel and accommodation businesses due to social distancing and contactless, etc.]

Due to social distancing and the spread of contactless service, the number of the trademark applications in the relevant businesses has decreased.

The number of the trademark applications in the travel business has the largest decrease of 17.4%, followed by the accommodation business (resorts, pensions, etc.) (6.2%), the wedding business (marriage information, wedding halls, etc.) (7.2%), reflecting the restriction in gathering or event due to the social distancing.

The businesses which fell short of the average increase rate in the number of the trademark applications related to the overall service businesses were the game service business (PC room, etc.) with 1.9%, recreational park service business (amusement park, etc.) with 7.2%, entertainment business (entertainment show, concert, etc.) with 7.9%, and sanitary business (public bath house, sauna, etc.) with 9% which have greatly decreased by the restriction (prohibition of gathering) to the multiple facilities.



5.The technology of a negative pressure ward has been vigorously developed as a core facility to an infectious disease treatment

- The number of patent applications related to a negative pressure ward increased by 16 times compared to 2019.
- The ratio of filing the patent applications for a mobile or prefab negative pressure ward is highest.

As the number of confirmed cases due to the spread of COVID-19 has increased, the number of the patent applications relating to a negative pressure ward to quarantine and treat those has sharply increased in 2020.

A negative pressure ward is an essential medical facility to treat an infected patient by blocking the virus, which is present in the air or fluid in the ward, from releasing to the outside by maintaining the inner pressure to be lower than the outer pressure, and by purifying the inner air through a filter, etc., to be safely discharged.

According to KIPO, as a result of analyzing the trend of the negative pressure ward-related patent applications filed for the last 10 years, the number of the relevant patent applications, which was about 2~3 on annual average during the period of 2011~2019, rapidly increased to a total of 63 in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started. This number reaches 2.7 times to 23, the total of the relevant applications filed over 9 years (2011~2019).

The current status of the negative pressure ward-related patent applications by technology types is that the largest number of the applications, 54.7% (47 cases), is related to mobile or prefab negative pressure wards, followed by 22.1 % (19 cases) related to air conditioning to control the inner pressure of the ward, 19.8% (17 cases) related to air purification to remove virus and germs by using a filter, medicine, UV-rays, etc., and 3.4% (3 cases) related to a remote control of the ward.

Especially, the applications related to the mobile and prefab negative pressure wards make it easy to move and install an air tent using an air frame, a prefabricated modular ward, a prefabricated container, etc. and make it possible to expand a ward. The relevant applications are considered as being actively filed to cope with the shortage of negative pressure wards due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 confirmed patients.

By the types of applicants of the negative pressure ward-related patent applications, mid-sized company and small/medium companies filed more than half of these applications, 51.2% (44 cases). Individuals filed 32.6% (28 cases) and universities and institutes filed 12.8% (11 cases). Korean applicants filed 98.8% and foreign applicants filed 1.2% (1 case) only, showing that the number of the applications filed by Korean applicants was overwhelming.

These are considered as resulting from the points that (i) Korean small and medium companies actively filed the applications since generally a negative pressure ward was connected to execution of building work, plus (ii) the industrial efforts for the technology innovation were added to overcome COVID-19.  

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