Korean IP System

We will be the Best Partner for Your Ideas.
1 Purpose of the patent system

The purpose of the patent system is, to accelerate the development of technology though the protection, encouragement, promotion, and utilization of inventions, and thereby contribute to the development of industry.
The publication of inventions leads to the accumulation and utilization of technology and the advancement of industry.
Granting exclusive rights for the commercial usage of a patented invention promotes commercialization, encourages the development of inventions, and leads to the advancement of industry.

2 Requirements for acquiring patent rights

A patent must have industrial applicability; it must be usable in industry.
The technology must have novelty; it must not be known to the public (prior art) before an application is submitted.
The technology must have an inventive step; it must not be easily derivable from prior art, even though it differs from prior art.
Click here for detailed information on the prerequisites of patentability.

3 Effect and term of a patent right

The term of a patent right commences when the establishment of patent right is registered; it ends 20 years after the filing date of the patent application. The corresponding term for a utility model is 10 years.
The effect of a patent right is subject to the principle of territoriality; that is, it is valid only in the country where the right is obtained.
(quoted from KIPO at Click here)

4 Application Procedure for Patents and Utility models

After a patent application is filed with KIPO, a patent right is granted through various steps. The Korean system is characterized by:
(i) First-to-File Rule;
(ii) Publication of Unexamined Application;
(iii) Request for Examination The procedure for registering a utility model is the same as that of a patent except for some notification periods.
Procedures for Granting a Patent and Utility Model (the Utility Model under Utility Model Act which was entered into on October 1, 2006)

Application Procedure

(quoted from KIPO at Click here)

5 What is a trademark?

Concept of a trademark under the Trademark Act
A trademark refers to all sensible methods of expression used to distinguish one's goods from those of another. However, since it is difficult to protect all such methods legally, the Trademark Act places limits on the protectable constituents of a trademark. Previously, these constituents were limited to a symbol, character, diagram, three-dimensional shape, or any combination thereof, as well as color combinations of the mark. On July 1, 2007, protection under the Trademark Act expanded to include a mark formed by a single color or a combination of colors, holograms, motions, and all types of visually recognizable marks.

To reflect the ROK-EU FTA, the Trademark Act was amended to include regulations to reject a trademark application that is identical or similar to a geographical indication already protected by the FTA and Korean laws.

Additional amendments to the Trademark Act based on the ROK-US FTA permit non-visual trademarks such as sounds and smells to be eligible for trademarks. A certification mark was also introduced to guarantee the quality and characteristics of goods or services (enforced on March 15, 2012).

In addition, marks that do not distinguish one's goods from another's are not deemed to be a trademark. If a design is only used to inspire users with its aesthetic nature or as a price mark irrelevant to the identification of owners, it shall not be deemed a trademark in accordance with the Trademark Act. On the other hand, service marks, collective marks, and business emblems may be regarded as trademarks.

Concept of a service mark
A "service mark" refers to a mark used by the owner of a service business (advertisement, communication, banking, transportation, restaurant, etc.) to distinguish his/her service business from that of others. In other words, a trademark is the identification mark of a "product", while the service mark is an identification mark of a "service business."

Concept of a collective mark
A "collective mark" refers to a mark intended for use by a legal entity founded in association with persons who conduct business activities such as producing and selling goods; members of the legal entity can use the mark for their goods and services.

Concept of a business emblem
A "business emblem" refers to a mark used by a person engaged in a nonprofit business like the YMCA or Boy Scouts to indicate that person's business (e.g. Republic of Korea National Red Cross, Junior Chamber, Rotary Club, Korea Consumer Agency, etc.)
(quoted from KIPO at Click here)

6 Application Procedure for Trademarks

Trademarks and service marks are protected in the Republic of Korea under the Trademark Act; and for such protection, marks should be registered with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). The use of a trademark is not a prerequisite for filing an application for the registration of a trademark. Although the Trademark Act does not protect unregistered marks, it does provide protection of well-known or famous marks by restricting the registration of an identical or similar mark. There is no course of action against infringement of a well-known or famous unregistered trademark under the Trademark Act, but action may be pursued under the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.
The Korean Trademark Law is characterized by :
i) First-to-File Rule;
ii) Substantive Examination;
iii) Opposition

Application Procedure for Trademarks

(quoted from KIPO at Click here)