1. An unshakable Korean company’s patent competitiveness
-South Korea has kept increasing while major countries has decreased in the number of patent applications filed in 2020.
In the last year when COVID-19 hit the world, the number of patent applications filed by the world major countries decreased; whereas, the number of patent application filed by South Korea increased.
According to the “Key IP5 Statistical Indicators 2020” published jointly by IP5, which is a forum of the world’s five largest patent offices, the number of patent applications filed by IP5 in 2020 totaled 2,790,000, showing an increase of 2.2% compared with the previous year.
The number of the applications received by KIPO was a total of 226,759, showing an increase of 3.6% compared with the previous year, which was quite a contrast to the decreases in the number of applications filed by US (3.9%), Europe (0.6%) and Japan (6.3%).
Even under the hard conditions of COVID-19, this it the point where Korean companies’ efforts are seen to prepare a new leap forward in the digital economy era through a technology preemption.
Although the number of patent applications filed by China also increased by 6.9%, this is considered as a base effect according to a big drop in the number of the applications filed in the previous year. The number of applications filed with CNIPA was 1,542,002 in 2018 and 1,400,661 in 2019 with an decrease of 9.2% compared to 2018.
The Korean efforts to secure global patent competitiveness is more noticeable from the patent application indicators by countries.
By countries, the number of the applications filed with IP5 by Korean applicants totaled 250,142, increasing by 4.8% compared with the previous year, and the number of the applications filed with IP5 including KIPO showed an increase. The increasing number (rate) of the applications filed at IP5 offices by the Korean applicants in 2020 compared to 2019 was 180,481 (5.2%) with KIPO, 37,949 (3.0%) with USPTO, 9,106 (9.9%) with EPO, 16,725 (4.4%) with CNIPA and 5,881 (4.4%) with JPO.
This proves that the current increase in the number of the applications was not a home-centered simple quantitative expansion but a result of reflecting the Korean companies’ active movement to secure the patent competitiveness targeting all over the world.
2. If anyone steals an idea, (s)he is responsible for compensation up to 3 times of the damages from April 21, 2021
-The revised ‘Unfair Competition Prevention Act’ has been enforced from April 21, 2021.
-A mid- to long-term basic plan for the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and the Trade Secret Protection Act is to be established.
When an agency to organize an idea that a small/medium company or an individual presents for a competition, etc. uses the idea without permission, the agency must pay an amount of compensation up to 3 times of the damages. A pan-government level basic plan is to be prepared to prevent a Korean company’s technology from leaking.
According to KIPO, the laws relating to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and the Trade Secret Protection Act (hereinafter, referred to as the ‘Unfair Competition Prevention Act’) including the aforementioned content has been enforced from April 21, 2021.
Under the Unfair Competition Prevention Act enforcing from April 21, 2021, when an idea provided during the transaction process is used without permission to inflict damage to the provider, the amount of compensation is increased up to 3 times of the damages. This revision is intended to eradicate an act of using a novel idea without a fair price, so-called technology takeover act.
Regarding an administration investigation regarding an unfair competition act, when the party directly involved requests the IP Dispute Mediation Committee for a dispute mediation, it is possible to stop the administration investigation. In the case that the dispute mediation is established, it is possible to end the administration investigation.
Through this, a dispute between small businesses, small/medium businesses or venture businesses is expected to earlier settled.
Finally, a legal basis has been prepared to establish a mid- to long-term five-year basic plan and an annual implementation plan for the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and the Trade Secret Protection Act.
Previously, the technology protection measures by the Unfair Competition Prevention Act were carried forward to mainly strengthen relief after death, such as punishment of technology leak and compensation for damage, etc. However, the enforcement of this revised law is expected to strengthen the preventive activities to prevent national wealth from draining.
To this end, starting in April, research on the actual condition is to be carried out for the unfair competition prevention and the trade secret protection, and the basic plan and the detailed implementation plan will be prepared based on the results of the research.
Major content of the basic plan is as follows:
• Basic goal and promotion direction for unfair competition prevention and trade secret protection
• Status, response, performance, analysis and evaluation of disputes related to the unfair competition prevention, etc.
• Change and outlook in domestic and foreign conditions related to the unfair competition prevention, etc.
• Improvement of the laws and system, and the cooperation matters among a central ministry and a local government and a private entity.
• International cooperation plan related to the unfair competition prevention, etc.
3. A method of submitting genetic information (sequence listing) for a patent application is changed
-KIPO held an international standard presentation on sequence listing.
KIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Korea Patent Attorney Association jointly held an international standard presentation on the description method of gene sequence listing. Sequence listing includes the arrangement order (sequence) information of nucleotide consisting a gene, which is required information for a patent of biotechnology.
For an applicant who wants to file a Korean application and a PCT international patent application relating to biotechnology, the presentation proceeded online and offline due to COVID-19.
Korean experts working in WIPO directly introduced a new international standard (ST.26) of the gene sequence listing.
In the spot, the experts provided specific answers to the questions from applicants through Q&A. As well, real-time communications were performed with applicants participating online.
The sequence listing according to the international standard must be submitted to obtain a gene-related Korean or foreign patent in the biotechnology field, and a new international standard for sequence listing will be enforced from January 1, 2022.
KIPO and WIPO have closely cooperated in many directions including the improvement of a sequence listing writing system, the revision of the relevant laws, the opening of a joint presentation, so that the new international standard of sequence listing can be smoothly carried out.
4. The hot stamping technology is also hot in the era of an electric car
-The patent competition is hot to preoccupy the hot stamping market.
The technology competition to improve a driving distance of an electric car per one time charge is getting fierce day by day. Since there is a limit in increasing a battery capacity of an electric car, the technology of automotive light-weighting using hot stamping has been noticeable as a most realistic alternative.
Hot stamping is the technology to improve strength by placing, in a mold, a steel plate heated to high temperature, forming it by a press and quenching it inside the mold, making a car body in a complex form strong with a thin thickness.
In an electric car with a heavy battery, the demand for the hot stamping technology to make a car body light has been more increased. Thus, the patent competition among the relevant companies to take the lead in the hot stamping market has been hotter.
According to KIPO, the number of the hot-stamping related patent applications filed by IP5 has sharply increased since 2010, with an increase of about 20% as an annual average (from 2010 to 2017) and broke the highest as average 396 cases for the last three years.
By detailed technology, the most cases, 3,163 (62.1%), among the hot stamping-related applications were related to materials, followed by 1,767 (34.7%) related to equipment and car body components.
Of the material-related applications, the most cases, 33.2%, were for plating materials, followed by 20.2% for steel plates and 7.3% for plating methods.
By an applicant’s nationality, China filed the most cases, 1,819 (34.6%), followed by Europe with 1,470 (28.0%), Japan with 915 (17.4%), South Korea with 464 (8.8%) and US with 3967 (7.6%).
In the cases of Europe and Japan, since the rate of filing the applications in foreign countries has been high to exercise a patent right and these countries have owned a number of patents related to various infringement cases, they have formed a leading group in the hot stamping technology.
In the case of China, the most applications (73.2%) were Chinese applications. From the view that the registration rate of these Chinese applications is lower compared to the other IP5, the Chinese hot stamping technology is not considered as high yet.
South Korea has a strength in the equipment and car body component production technology. However, since the rate of the applications related to materials was 56.4% which is lower than Europe (69.1%) and Japan (66.7%) and major foreign companies have increased the number of Korean patent applications to check Korean companies, it is time to prepare by developing new materials for hot stamping.
5. KIPO held a presentation of examination practice in the convergence technology field
-The standards to grant patents and the cases of examination in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and bio were introduced
KIPO and the Korea Intellectual Property Association (KINPA) jointly held an online ‘presentation on examination practice guide in the convergence technology field’ for the member companies of KINPA.
Early this year, the convergence technology examination bureau of KIPO established the examination practice guide as to the three technical fields including AI, IoT and Bio, in cooperation with the industry, to prepare clear examination standards in the convergence technology field and to support Korean companies in making a future growth engine by securing high-quality patents.
The presentation was arranged to provide the industry with an examination practice guide newly established by convergence technical field, to be of help in writing a patent application.
Through the presentation, the convergence technological companies including AI, IoT, Bio, etc. are provided with the information on how to write a patent application by field, the standards to grant a patent by type, and specific examination cases, etc.
In the AI field, the presentation introduced focusing how to write an application for an AI invention and the standards to determine an inventive step based on a difference in learning model and learning data, etc.
In the IoT field, it introduced focusing the standards to determine novelty and an inventive step on an invention to which IoT is applied in diverse industrial fields, and actual examination cases.
In the Bio field, the presentation presented new examination standards for inventions relating to nucleic acids, proteins and cells which are the basic constituent substances of a life, and intensively explained the examination judgement standards by case for inventions relating to AI-based new drug development which is newly noticeable.