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A design which is independent from goods, such as an image for medical information or health management, etc., is to be protected.(News Letter No. 468)



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1. A design which is independent from goods, such as an image for medical information or health management, etc., is to be protected.

-A system for computer-generated graphic designs, icons and etc. which are realized by the digital technology is for the first time operated.

From October 21, 2021, an image displayed on a website screen, an external wall, a road surface or a human body, etc. and a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) image is able to be filed in a design application and be registered.

Previously, only a design applied to goods which an image is displayed qas registrable. However, in the future, an image including an operation or function of a device shown as a design to be expressed in a space, etc., by using a new technology will be protected as itself.

According to KIPO, through an amendment to the relevant law, a turning point has been prepared to protect digital image designs having various uses and functions, such as computer-generated graphic designs, icons and the like, for information and communication, medical information, security, health management, among others, independently from goods.

Therefore, the act that a third person uses or online transmits, without permission, the design which is same as or similar to a registered image design in terms of a shape/figure may fall under an infringement act of a design right.

Since it is possible to rapidly secure a design right in a foreign country, based on a Korean application for a computer-generated image design, the image design system is expected to be positively used for a Korean company in entering the relevant industrial overseas market.

2. A specialized examination commissioner system is introduced to be implemented in a patent trial (October 2021).

-A private technology expert participates in a trial as a professional technical advisor.

According to the Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (KIPTAB), the specialized examination commissioner system that a private technical expert with professional knowledge and experiences participates in a patent trial became effective on October 21, 2021.

To this end, the recruitment for candidates for the specialized examination commissioners (technical advisors) in the selected 11 technical fields in which a technical change rapidly progresses or a field knowledge is required was conducted from August 2021 and about 130 candidates have been secured up to now.

The relevant technical fields are a total of 11 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. When a new technical field or an additional recruitment demand is needed, a candidate can be added anytime if a trial board requests.

When a judge decides that a specialized examination commissioner needs to attend a trial, the judge can designate one or more candidates from the candidates in the relevant technical field as the specialized examination commissioners. The judge has to listen to both concerned parties’ opinions before designating the specialized examination commissioner(s), to avoid biasing the position of any one party.

Although the party(ies) concerned is able to propose, to a judge, the attendance of a specialized examination commissioner by presenting an argument during the trial process, the judge finally decides whether to have a specialized examination commissioner participate.

A specialized examination commissioner presents a description or opinion in response to the judge’s request, to clarify an issue point on the technical content of the trial case.

Since the opinion presented by a private technical expert is of a neutral position, it is expected to greatly contribute to the judge’s rapid and accurate judgement.

3. The number of trademark applications related to COVID-19-related medicines and vaccines has rapidly increased.

-The number of the designated goods including “corona”, “covid”, etc., increased by 107.7% compared to the previous year.

According to KIPO, as the development and commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, etc. have been serious, the number of trademark applications including “corona”, etc. as designated goods increased by 107.7% as of the end of August this year, compared to the previous year.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the number of trademark applications including ‘corona’, ‘covid’, etc. increased from 26 in 2020 to 54 in August 2021. For each quarter, the number thereof was 2 in the 2nd quarter of 2020, 3 in the 3rd quarter of 2020, 38 in the 1st quarter of 2021 and 16 in the 2nd quarter of 2021.

A trademark application is filed by designating goods to which the relevant trademark is used. This year, the number of trademark applications including the ‘corona’-related designated goods has rapidly increased. For example, the application for a trademark ‘GCovidig’ was filed designating 20 goods: COVID 19 vaccine, COVID 19 blood plasma treatment, virus vaccine, vaccine for treatment of infectious diseases, medical antibody, drugs for human, etc.

Upon reviewing the designated goods by content, the trademark applications last year were focused on diagnosis kits (including a reagent) and quarantine devices, etc.; whereas, the trademark applications this year were focused on vaccines for treatment viruses, medicines, etc.

Medicines, among a total designated goods relating to COVID-19 in the relevant applications, increased by 131.3% compared to the previous year. The transition of the trademark applications in view of the designated goods relating to COVID-19 is that: a total of 26 trademark applications including 16 cases for medicines, 6 for diagnosis kits, 2 for quarantine devices, and the others were filed in 2020; whereas a total of 54 trademark applications including 37 for medicines, 13 for vaccines, 1 for diagnosis kit, and the others were filed in January through August in 2021.

By the types of applicants, the number of the trademark applications filed by Korean corporations increased from 20 in 2020 to 27 in 2021 showing an 35% increase; and, the number thereof by foreign corporations increased from 5 to 24 showing a sharp increase of 380%.

Since pharmaceutical companies passing clinical trials are ready for commercialization of vaccines, medicines, oral medications, etc. and foreign corporations continue filing a Korean trademark application, fierce competition to dominating a brand is expected in the future. The cases that foreign corporations filed Korean trademark applications are as follows: Sputnik V: Limited Liability Company (Russia) filed on September 2020
moderna: ModernaTx, Inc. (US) filed on January 2021

Among a total trademark applications relating to medicines, the number of trademark applications including infectious disease-related vaccines, immunoregulation drugs, anti-virous drugs, antibody treatment drugs, blood plasma treatment medicines as designated goods increased in 2020 by 66.9% compared to 2019, and the number thereof in 2021 (in the end of August) has been exceeded that number in 2020.

The number of the designated goods including vaccines was 867 (2016), 992 (2017), 1,187 (2018), 899 (2019), 1,500 (2020) and 1,735 (August 2021).

4. Life of wisely staying at home with a smart home

-The number of patent applications relating to the Internet of Things-based smart homes in the COVID-19 contactless era.

According to KIPO, the number of Korean applications relating to a smart home increased from 56 in 2009 to 140 in 2020, showing an increase of 2 times or more over the last 10 years (2009~2020).

By technical fields, 510 applications (40.5%) were for ‘smart home appliances’, 289 (23.0%) for ‘health management’, 254 (20.2%) for ‘security services’ and 205 (16.3%) for ‘smart power control’.

Specifically, most patent applications were in the fields of ‘smart home appliances’ and ‘health management’, and the number of these patent applications filed in 2020 increased by 3.3 times and 6.0 times compared to 2019, respectively, showing the highest increase.

This is considered due to a great increase in the number of the relevant applications since the home entertainment and telemedical demand has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By nationalities of applicants, 83.3% applications were field by Korean applicants, showing that Korean applicants overwhelmingly filed the relevant applications in comparison to foreign applicants (16.7%).

By the types of applicants (2009~2020), 790 applications (67.5%) were filed by companies, 237 (20.3%) by individuals, 96 (8.2%) by universities, and 47 (4.0%) by institutes, indicating that companies and individuals have the highest percentages.

A high percentage of the relevant applications were filed by Korean applicants in the point that the smart home technology needs to converge with Korean businesses (home appliances, medical devices, etc.), and a high percentage of the relevant applications were filed by individuals in the point that various application service developments are possible.

Major applicants are LG Electronics (122 applications), Samsung Electronics (82), Xiaomi (20), Headwater Partners (19) and Google (11), indicating that LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics have led the relevant Korean applications.

In addition, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics took a 1st and a 3rd places in ranking by filing 340 applications and 275 applications, respectively, with the IP5 Patent Offices (2009~2020), showing that they have actively filed patent applications in the smart home technology field at home and abroad.

This is considered as securing a global technology power in the smart home field, based on the competitiveness in the conventional white home appliances.



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