1. The secret design system will be improved to strengthen the design protection
-A company’s new product development trend is blocked from being exposed by not disclosing the name of an article.
According to KIPO, the secret design system will be improved such that a company can further strengthen the protection of a design right when filing a design application of a new product and use the design right as a business strategy.
Under the secret design system, a design can be kept secret for a certain period (up to 3 years from the design registration date) at an applicant’s request.
From April 1, 2021, when an applicant requests a secret design, the drawing(s) illustrating the design, the description of the design, the name of an article and the classification of the article shall not be disclosed under the changed system.
In principle, all the content of a registered design is disclosed. However, when a secret design is requested, the registered design is not disclosed for a certain period, thereby preventing copying thereof by a competitor.
Further, a company is able to strategically disclose a design in time of launching a new product while watching the market situation, thereby utilizing the secret design system as a marketing strategy.
In spite of the aforementioned advantages of the secret design system, since previously the name of an article and the classification of the article were disclosed in the registered design, there was concerns that a company’s new product development trend may be indirectly exposed to a competitor.
However, since the above-mentioned information will not be disclosed in the future, a company’s design development and management strategies can be more perfectly protected.
When a secret design is requested, the information to be disclosed includes the name and address of the owner of a design right, the name and address of the creator of the design, the design application filing date (number), the design registration date (number), the fact of an examination registration or a partial examination registration.
When a secret design is requested, the information not to be disclosed includes a drawing or picture, the gist of creation content, the description of the design, the name of an article and the classification of the article (not disclosed from April 1, 2021).
The number of the cases requesting a secret design has been more than 2,000 every year since 2016 and it increased in 2020 by more than 2 times compared to 2014. When a company files a design application for a new product, the company’s utilization of the secret design is expected to increase in the future.
2. Counterfeit identification tips are taught in overseas crackdown agencies
-KIPO support small/medium companies and mid-sized companies in contactlessly participating in a presentation for counterfeit identification.
KIPO and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Corporation support export companies’ contactless participation in the presentation for overseas counterfeit identification to be held this year.
In this presentation held for the crackdown officials including polices and customs in China and 5 Asian countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and India), companies can directly educate them in the counterfeit identification tips regarding their own products.
Since the related brand and product are imprinted to the local crackdown personnel to increase the crackdown effect by inducing ex officio crackdown (in which the authorities initiate crackdown by official authority, without any request of the owner of a right), Korean export companies have steadily looked for each country presentation every year.
It is worthy for the Korean companies, which were difficult to directly attend the local event because of time and cost burden, to use this program to support a company’s contactless participation. This program supports the development of identification tips and the production of an education video through an expert agency, and the produced video will be played in the presentation to be held from May this year.
A company can participate in real time in the relevant presentation by using a video conference system. A request for participating this presentation is possible for anyone that is a small or medium company or a mid-sized company registered as a businessperson in South Korea and has the counterfeit-related information to be delivered to a local crackdown agency.
A participating company is supported with the maximum of 70% of cost required, with 2,000,000 Korea Won limit. It is possible to participate the presentation up to 5 times and to select a desired area to participate when filing a request for participation. The presentation will be held on-line and off-line according to the local COVID-19 situation. Local interpretation or local subtitles will be provided according to the method of holding the presentation.
3. Export of a patent examination service is cruising even in the worldwide COVID-19 crisis
-Foreign currency of one million dollars has been acquired yearly by executing the UAE patent examination.
Under the whole worldwide recession due to COVID-19, Korean patent examination service export (by executing the UAE patent examination) has steadily acquired more than one million dollars yearly.
KIPO concluded the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on IP cooperation for execution of patent examination with United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has executed the patent examination of UAE since June 2014.
After that, excellence of Korean examination quality was recognized and in 2019 the range of patent examination was expanded from a new examination to the all areas including an intermediate examination and a final decision. The value of execution has increased to more than one million dollars.
KIPO has continued sending Korean examiners to UAE and Saudi Arabia, to spread the Korean wave of IP administration through examination execution and to support Korean companies in securing their overseas IP rights.
4. Designs in the era of COVID-19 have risen in household and hygiene goods but declined in beauty and jewelry goods
-The number of design applications related to household, hygiene and hobby goods has sharply increased but those related to cosmetics and jewelry goods have decreased.
Non-face-to-face and contactless everyday life in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) has changed the terrain of designs.
As a result of analyzing the trend of design applications filed in 2020 by all items, the number of the design applications in the household goods, hobby and entertainment goods and exercise supplies increased and the number of the design applications in the personal supplies such as beauty and miscellaneous goods and the base products such as fabrics decreased.
The number of the household goods-related design applications filed from 2017 to 2019 was an average of 6,840 per year but was 9,199 in 2020 with an increase of 34.5% compared to the 3-year average. The number of the hobby and entertainment and exercise goods increased by 4.6% (from 2,907 to 3,042). However, the number of the design applications related to the personal goods including beauty and miscellaneous goods decreased by 4.1% (from 9,306 to 8,926) and the number of the design applications related to the base products like fabrics decreased by 15.7% (from 5,772 to 4,863).
Upon reviewing the trend of design applications by detailed items, the number of design applications related to masks which were necessities of daily life during the COVID-19 era increased from 377 in 2017~2019 to 2,444 in 2020, recording an explosive increase of 548.3%.
The number of the design applications related to the field quarantine supplies, such as a quarantine gate and a disinfection booth, was an average 39 every year during the same period but it was 217 in 2020, recording an increase of 456.4%. The number of the design applications related to indoor hygiene goods, such as a household sterilizer, a skin care device, etc., increased from 1,355 to 3,857, showing an increase of 184.6%.
As a time of staying at home became longer due to COVID-19, an increase in the number of the design applications related to pet supplies and exercise supplies was also steep. The number of the design applications related to the pet supplies increased by 48.7%, from 648 in 2017~2019 to 979 in 2020, and that related to the indoor exercise supplies, such as dumbbells, etc., for home training increased from 63 during the same period to 83, with an increase of 31.1%. Especially, that related to golf supplies which were special hit by COVID-19 increased from 251 to 377, with an increase of 50.4%.
In addition, as the demand for home furnishing increased to make the home environment comfortable and pleasant for work and rest, the number of design applications related to furniture including tables, sofas, etc. increased by 13.4%, from 2,585 to 2,932 and that related to the indoor gardening supplies including flower pots, etc. increased by 33.5%, from 109 to 146.
On the other hand, the decline was remarkable in the areas directly struck by COVID-19. Since the number of public appearances decreased, the number of design applications related to the accessories like jewelry goods decreased from 3,277 during the same period to 2,578 in 2020, with a decrease of 21.3% compared to average.
The number of design applications related to cosmetic goods decreased by 20.6%, from 1,232 to 978. This is considered as reflecting the Korean cosmetic markets being shrunken due to the COVID-19. Those related to shoes and bags decreased by 7.7%, from 1,095 to 1,011 and by 6.1% from 977 to 918, respectively.
5. Please check the name of goods and services before filing trademark applications in China and Japan
-KIPO homepage publishes the comparison list regarding the Korean, Chinese and Japanese names of goods and services and the KIPO’s, CNIPA’s and JPO’s similar group codes.
Since March 12, 2021, KIPO has published at www.kipo.go.kr the comparison list regarding the Korean, Chinese and Japanese names of goods and services and the KIPO’s, CNIPA’s and JPO’s similar group codes reflecting the NICE International Classification of Goods and Services.
The similar group codes are the classification system of goods and services which are used as criteria or reference materials to estimate on the similarity of goods/services among the three countries, Korea, China and Japan, to enhance the efficiency of examination on goods/services.
The similar group codes of each of the three countries may be differently given even though goods/services are the same since there are some differences in the attributes of goods/services and the awareness of transaction status. In such a case, it requires attention since the names of goods/services acceptable in Korea may not be acceptable in the other countries and may be rejected regarding a trademark registration.
In the meeting of Korean and Japanese trademark experts held in 2016, KIPO agreed to conduct a program of comparatively studying the KIPO’s and JPO’s similar group codes and published at its homepage the results of comparison and study on the similar group code systems of the two, three times from 2017 to 2019.
As China agreed to participate the same program, the Chinese names of goods/services and the CNIPA’s similar group codes have been added to the list of the Korean and Japanese names of goods/services and their similar group codes so that the three countries’ similar group codes can be compared at glance. The current list thereof reflects the revision of the NICE International Classification of Goods and Services.
The details of the list comparing the similar group codes of the three are available in the KIPO homepage (www.kipo.go.kr).