1. A method of filing an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treat (PCT) will be unified using an internet web application.
- Updating the existing electronic filing software is to end from July 2022.
- The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has decided to arrange a counseling expert in the internet web application (ePCT) in South Korea within this year.
In the future (July 2022), an international patent application under the PCT will be unified by the internet web application (ePCT) under which the application is directly filled out and filed in the WIPO website (pct.wipo.int).
Up to now, the clients of PCT applications have used the two electronic application filing methods. That is, an applicant of a PCT application used ▲ the PCT application writing software to be installed in a PCT (introduced in 2004) which is the electronic application filing SW provided by WIPO (PCT-SAFE, PCT-Secure applications Filed Electronically) or has accessed ▲the WIPO website (ePCT, https://pct.wipo.int/) (introduced in 2017) to directly fill out the application document and file it in the web environments.
As for the electronic application SW (PCT-SAFE), there have been inconveniences for the users to install the SW and to periodically update it.
Whereas, as the Internet web application (ePCT) has been highlighted regarding its advantage that it is possible to directly file the PCT application in the web screen where the updated revised laws and systems or improved functions are reflected in real time, the utilization thereof has continued to increase.
According to a spokesperson of KIPO, updating of the existing electronic application SW (PCT-SAFE) will stop from July next year since WIPO decided to unify the PCT application filing method as the Internet web application (ePCT) for the user convenience and the application system operation efficiency.
2. A private technology expert can participate in a patent trial.
- The Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (KIPTAB) openly recruits a candidate for a specialized examination commissioner (technical advisor).
A private technical expert can participate in a patent trial by KIPTAB’s specialized examination commissioner system to be newly operated. Accordingly, the technical expertise of KIPTAB will be expected to be strengthened in a high-tech field or the technical field requiring field knowledge.
KIPTAB published to openly recruit a candidate for a specialized examination commissioner from August 9 to 31, 2021 as the specialized examination commissioner system is to operate in October this year.
Focusing on the high-tech field related to the 4th industrial revolution and the technical field requiring the skilled knowledge and experienced in the field, KIPTAB planed to recruit candidates for specialized examination commissioners regarding the 11 technical fields including artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, secondary•fuel cell, wireless communication (5G/6G), video•audio compression, fin tech, semiconductor (photo, etching and deposition technology), robot control, ground stabilization, transmission and bio health.
A candidate for a specialized examination commissioner can submit a written document to describe an explanation or opinion on a matter relating to the technical content of a trial case at the request for a judge, or the candidate can attend a hearing on a fixed date to state the explanation or opinion and to directly ask a question to a person concerned in the trial including the person directly involved, witness, etc. with the judge’s permission. However, the candidate cannot participate in the trial’s decision.
A candidate for a specialized examination commissioner selected at this time will be registered in the list of the candidates for specialized examination commissioners of KIPTAB for 2 years starting October 21, 2021.
3. The furniture industry smiling thanks to COVID-19 is active in filing design applications.
- The number of major furniture design applications filed in 2020 has sharply increased by more than 40% compared to the previous year.
‘Staying home’ has been prolonged and the telecommuting population has rapidly increased due to COVID-19. As the time to stay at home has increased, the demand for decorating the home as a comfortable and efficient space has also increased. Accordingly, not only the sales of the upholstery and furniture-related industries have increased but also the number of furniture-related design applications has rapidly increased.
According to KIPO, the number of the major-furniture design applications continued to decrease by 2018 but was 938 in 2019 showing an increase of 9.8% compared to 2018 and was 1,325 in 2020 recording an increase of 41.3% compared to 2019.
Looking at the use, the number of design applications related to the furniture providing a relaxing position, such as sofa, massage chair, bed, etc. has remarkably increased.
As for sofas, 30 design applications related to a one-person sofa and 216 design applications related to a multi-person sofa were filed in 2020, increasing 25.0% and 44.0% respectively, compared to 2019. As for shapes, mainly simple designs with no embellishments were filed by the influence of the trend of minimalism interior.
The number of design applications related to a massage chair was only 2, on average, for 3 years from 2016 to 2018 but 22 in 2019 showing a nearly 10 time increase and 51 in 2020 sharply increasing of 131.8% compared to the previous year. This is considered as a result of reflecting the demand for high-quality rest and health management that can be done at home due to the restricted outdoor activities.
The boom in the bed market driven by the deep sleep marketing is confirmed even in a change in the design application trend. The number of bed-related design application steadily decreased until 2018 and it was 126 in 2019 increasing by 29.9% compared to 2018 and 195 in 2020 increasing more than 1.5 times compared to 2019. The number of the design applications for a mattress as the relevant goods also showed a rapid increase of 88.6% compared to 2019.
The number of the office-furniture-related design applications also showed a marked increase in 2020. Specially, 240 design applications related to tables were filed last year, increasing by 43.7% compared to 2019, and 97 design applications for chairs were filed, increasing by 24.4%. Since online classes and telecommuting have become a daily routine, the demand for the furniture to create a work environment has increased and therefore it is considered as being reflected in the design applications.
In addition, the number of the storage furniture-related design applications has increased in 2020 by 19.4% for shelves, 31.3% for storage cabinets and 33.8% storage containers compared to 2019. This is considered as resulting from the importance in arrangement and storage for the efficient space utilization as the work and hobby activities at home have increased.
4. KIPO will publish a casebook on patentability determination in the field of white home appliances.
- It is expected to serve as a guide to strengthen a patent competitiveness in the field of white home appliances.
- The 1st and 2nd patent competitiveness in the number of US patent applications leads to the 1st and 2nd in market share’
KIPO announced the publication of a casebook on patentability determination in the field of white home appliances (hereinafter, referred to as the ‘casebook’).
While Korean home appliance companies have fiercely competed with global home appliance companies in overseas market, the excellent technical skills to take the lead in the market and the patent competitiveness to support them have become very important.
In US which is the biggest battlefield of the global home appliance market, the number of the white home appliance-related patent applications filed by Korean home appliance companies has steadily increased for the last 10 years.
Specifically, Korean home appliance companies took the 1st and 2nd places in the number of patent applications for washing machines and refrigerators. A strong patent competitiveness is considered as being supported behind the recent remarkable activities (Samsung Electronics taking 1st place and LG Electronics taking 2nd place in market share) in the US home appliance market.
Samsung Electronics had a 21.0% market share during the first quarter in the US household appliance market in 2021, followed by LG Electronics with 19.0% and Whirlpool with 16.5% (track line, June 2021). LG Electronics achieved 13.5 trillion Korea Won in sales in the first half of this year, overtaking 11.9 trillion Korea Won of Whirlpool which is the largest global competitor. (referring to the industry performance announcement data, July 2021)
Korean home appliance companies have continued to state that, whereas white home appliances need huge investment and time for research and development, it is easy to copy them and nevertheless, since it is hard to obtain a patent due to the strict patentability determination, competitiveness is likely to lag behind in the global market.
In addition, the relevant companies are of the opinion that it is necessary to establish clear criteria to determine patentability of an advance convergence invention combined with the 4th industrial revolution technology.
Reflecting the aforementioned opinion from the relevant industry, this casebook provides actual judgement cases and guides by major points at issue to determine the patentability in the field of white home appliances, to be of help for the home appliance companies in establishing strategies to obtain a patent.
5. What are notable new products in the digital era?
-KIPO published the results of survey on transaction of new digital and convergence products.
The industry related to the extended virtual world (metaverse) called the surreal world has suddenly risen. As the digital transition has been accelerated due to COVID-19, a new type of platform grafted with the extended virtual world (metaverse) has appeared one after another in the diverse industries including education, game, culture, medical treatment, etc.
In the manufacturing sector, as the non-face-to-face and contactless culture has spread, multi-functional products converged with digital have developed to be rapidly released.
KIPO published the ‘results of survey on transaction of new convergence products’ to grasp the actual state of product translation in the industrial society rapidly changing in response to the digital transition era.
According to the survey, the first application relating to the ‘extended virtual world (metaverse)’ which is a 3D virtual world platform having rapidly grown due to COVID-19 and the development of the information and communication technology has been filed this year. A total of 18 trademark applications were filed by designating products including software for metaverse game, software for providing metaverse content, metaverse software design and development businesses, etc. and these trademark applications have waited for examination.
The number of multi-functionalized products combining digital in the manufacturing industry have remarkably increased. These products include an automatic curtain control device, a smart egg storage container, a smart scale for a body composition test, a smart rope for a jump rope, etc., which have a function of remotely control or providing analysis information by a smart phone application.
As the products that stand out as the results of the survey, hygiene and cleaning products include a smart phone wireless charger with a sterilization function, Coronavirus self-testing kit, a water bottle with water purification function, and a fan with air cleaning function. Further, there are also included a number of pet products with digital functions (a cube camera for pet, a collar for tracking a pet location, an automatic feeding device for a pet) since the pet industrial growth is expected by 15 million pet population and the promotion of law revision regarding an animal legal status.
The new products subjected to the survey were already filed as trademark applications or were expected to be filed as trademark applications. To get a trademark registration in a newly appearing product, an applicant should note to describe a clear product name considering a major function or use. When a designated product name or a product class is wrongly described, trademark registration may be delayed or rejected.