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A basic plan for all government ministries has been established for preventing technology leak and protecting trade secret(News Letter No. 456)



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1. A basic plan for all government ministries has been established for preventing technology leak and protecting trade secret

- As the laws for unfair competition prevention and trade secret protection have been revised, the basic plan will be established and published within this year and to this end, a promotion group to establish a basic plan has been launched (April 23, 2021).

According to KIPO, an inauguration ceremony of the establishment of the ‘promotion group to establish the basic plan for unfair competition prevention and trade secret protection’ (hereinafter, referred to as the ‘group’) and a first conference was held in Seoul on April 23, 2021.

This year, the ‘basic plan for unfair competition prevention and trade secret protection’ (hereinafter, referred to as the ‘basic plan’) will be for the first time established according to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act enforced from April 21, 2021. This basic plan is a national level comprehensive plan to systematically protect the intellectual property by blocking technology and trade secret from leaking and by eradicating an unfair competition act in a new type, such as the use of data without permission.

Under the situation that the global competition for technological supremacy to secure an advanced technology has worsened, if a national major technology is leaked to a foreign country, tremendous damages may be caused to the national competitiveness. Therefore, it is time to establish a comprehensive plan at all government ministry-levels and to systematically deal with such situation.

The group launched this time has been formed of about 30 civilian commissioners in the industrial, academia and legal areas, including, as a leader, President Kwang Hyung LEE of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The commissioners will work in the 3 divisions, such as the technology protection, unfair competition prevention, and digital and global cooperation.

The division of technology protection will deal with plans to protect a national major technology and to prevent manpower and trade secret leaking, the division of unfair competition prevention will deal with rules regarding a typical unfair competition act, such as shape imitation, counterfeit items, and a new unfair competition act, and the division of digital and global cooperation will deal with, as a core theme, trade strategies from the views of a new type of an IP infringement and a technology security, such as a use of data without permission, etc. in the digital environment.

In the future, the group will prepare a ‘basic plan for unfair competition prevention and trade secret protection’ this year through the activities of these divisions and will fully operate it from the next year through consultation with the related ministries.

2. KIPO expand the recruitment of examination manpower specialized in the 3 new industrial fields

- Applications will be received from May 4 to 7, 2021, for hiring 25 examiners (general level 6).

As the general environments including technology and industry has rapidly changed by a sharp digital transformation and therefore a global fight for IP initiative has been fierce, KIPO hires expert examination manpower who is rich in research and development and field experience, to provide a high-quality IP examination service.

An examiner of KIPO is an advance guard in IP protection, who performs a role to grant an intangible right by examining whether a patent, design or trademark, etc. created by a researcher or a company can be legally protected.

The KIPO’s carrier competitive employment of an examiner (general public official level 6) has a great significance in the point of expanding the recruitment for an examiner specialized in the core technical fields of AI, semiconductor, fuel cell, biopharmaceutical, and medical equipment, etc., to strengthen the competitiveness in the 3 new industrial business fields (BIG3) requiring for rapidly making strong IP rights.

The size of the KIPO’s carrier competitive employment of general public official level 6 (examiner) is a total of 25 (including 3 in administrative position and 22 in technical position). If an applicant has a degree (more than a master degree) or a professional certificate (for a lawyer, a patent attorney, a pharmacist, a veterinarian, etc.), s(he) is eligible for applying. The period for receiving an application is for 4 days, from May 4 to 7, 2021.

3. Professionalism in a patent trial is enhanced by a professional hearing member’s participation

- A revision to the Korean Patent Act to use a professional hearing member in a patent trial was promulgated.

Since a professional hearing member with specialized knowledge and experience can participate in a patent trial case to present an opinion (in writing or orally), the professionalism of the trial case is expected to be further enhanced.

According to the Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPT), as a revision bill to the Korean Patent Act including the content such as the introduction of a professional hearing member system into a patent trial has been promulgated on April 20, 2021, it will be enforced from October 20, 2021.

The professional hearing member system is to participate, in a trial, an external expert having the professionalism in an area where a rapid technology change proceeds or the field knowledge is required, to supplement the professionalism of a trial.

If the future, the professional hearing member system will be enforced by preparing rules, etc. required in operating the system.

At present, although a judge of KIPO is an expert having the examination, trial experience and technical carrier for more than 10 years, there has steadily been raised a need to supplement the professionalism through an external expert in the areas requiring for an advanced technology or field knowledge.

When a court examines a case required for professional knowledge and experience to solve a dispute on construction, medical treatment, intellectual property, etc., the experts in the relevant areas outside the court have participated as the professional hearing members to help in conducting a rapid examination.

When the professional hearing member participation system is operated in the future, an external expert participates in the advanced technology cases, such as the use of big data, 5G communications, secondary batteries, etc., to be expected to contribute to an judge’s accurate judgement and also to enhance the quality of a trial.

4. KIPO renovates the ‘internet electronic filing service’

- It is possible to submit all documents online in an Electronic Application Nuri Collection.

In the future, an applicant of an application for a patent, trademark or design, etc. can easily submit the relevant documents to www.patent.go.kr, without installing any additional software when filing the documents, such as an application.

According to KIPO, the internet electronic filing service has been expanded from April 9, 2021, making it easy to submit the relevant documents, such as a patent application, etc. to www.patent.go.kr.

Previously, when submitting some documents such as an application to KIPO, there was reluctance to install the electronic filing software in a computer.

KIPO expanded and reorganized the internet electronic filing system so as to have no need to install the electronic filing software and to update it, thereby improving the system such that about 865 kinds of documents relating to applications, examinations, trials, registrations and international applications (under PCT, Madrid and Hague) to be submitted to KIPO can be written and submitted online.

Upon reviewing the major functions, the indication of the items required for description by format, example data for writing, and help, etc. have been improved to be guided step by step, so that clients first using the internet electronic filing service can easily determine and complete the documents to be submitted.

The internet electronic filing service also provides a function of immediately checking a result of searching the prior art in connection with the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS) during writing an application, so that this service has been improved to help in writing a high-quality application by supporting an applicant to be able to rapidly understand patentability in advance.

The internet electronic filing service has been improved to realize a function of temporarily saving or loading, thereby preventing the content which is in process of being written from suddenly disappearing even if an internet connection is lost.

5. An era of the quantum information technology is coming

- The number of patent applications filed by IP5 (South Korea, US, China, EU and Japan)
has increased by 4 times over the last 10 years.

According to KIPO, the number of patent applications related to the quantum information technology, filed by IP5 over the last 10 years, totaled 6,777, increasing by about 4 times from 286 patent applications in 2010 to 1,219 in 2018 and continuing to increase at an annual average of 19.9%.

By country, 2,223 patent applications (33%) were filed in US, followed by 1,978 (29%) in China 1,296 (19%) in Europe, 665 (10%) in Japan and 615 (9%) in South Korea, with the applications filed in US and China occupying 62% of the total.

By detailed technology, 2,572 applications were related to quantum computers, 2,711 to quantum cryptographic communications and 1,494 to quantum sensors, showing that many applications were filed in the quantum computing and security communication areas. Notably, as the big data analysis and AI technology have emerged, the number of the applications relating to quantum computing which is called as a dream computer has sharply increase by 30% or more every year.

The major applicants in the quantum computing area were IBM (408 applications, 15.9%), Google (233, 9.1%), Northrop Grumman (201, 7.8%), D-wave (157, 6.1%), Microsoft (154, 5.9%) and Intel (147, 5.7%), which occupy more than half of the total of the relevant applications.

Specifically, IBM which filed the most applications relative to a lot of countries, except for South Korea, has been ahead of the patent competition in this area. In South Korea, Northrop Grumman which is a munition company filed the most applications.

The major applications in the quantum cryptographic communication area were Toshiba (203 applications, 7.4%), Huawei (89, 3.2%), SKT (IDQ) (77, 2.8%), Alibaba (58, 2.1%). These 4 companies occupy 15.5% of the total of the relevant applications.

Among these companies, Toshiba filed the most patent applications in US, Europe and Japan, and SK Telecom filed the most patent applications in South Korea.

In the quantum sensor area, the number of the applications has not been too many but TSMC which is a Taiwanese company leading foundry semiconductor has filed the most patent applications (132, 8.8%).


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