South Korea IP Development

Industrial Property
In South Korea, Industrial Property includes trademark rights and patent rights which are comprised of invention patents, utility model patents and industrial design patents.
South Korea adopts registration and first-to-file rules in the protection of an invention patent. A patent application shall be filed with the KIPO to obtain the patent rights and protection. Where two or more applications related to the same invention are filed on different dates, only the applicant of the application with the earlier filing date may obtain a patent.
The KIPO will only conduct a substantive examination, in accordance with the substantive examination procedure, for an invention patent upon request. A request for a substantive examination of the patent application shall be filed within 5 years from the filing date of the application. However, the KIPO shall conduct a preferential examination, other than an examination in the order of filing dates, if the invention patent application meets certain requirements.
The term of an invention patent right commences upon registration of the patent right and ends 20 years after the filing date of the patent application. Under certain circumstances, the term of the patent right may be extended for a period up to 5 years provided that the invention patent is about pesticides or medications.
Utility Model
South Korea implements the Utility Model Act to protect practical devices, which are lower in technological level than inventions. According to the Utility Model Act, utility models are the same as inventions in terms of application procedure, first-to-file rule, submission of drawings, amendment and rejection of amendment, priority claim, and authorized publication.
Industrial Design
Under South Korean Industrial Design Protection Act, “design” means the shape, pattern, color or a combination of these in an article that produces an aesthetic impression in the sense of sight. The Act adopts design registration principle: A person seeking to protect a design in South Korea shall file a request for an application for the industrial design patent with the KIPO.
Upon receipt of an application for design registration, the KIPO will examine its utility, novelty and creativity first and then decide whether to grant a registration. However, certain articles shall be granted registration without examinations. The term of a design right is 15 years after the registration date of its establishment.
On January 28, 2015, South Korea revised the invention bill and utility model bill, respectively, and entered into force on July 29, 2015. In 2016, Korea revised the trademark and design review standards, expanded the classification of goods and services, amended the contents of the review of the Trademark Act and the Design Protection Act, and revised the rules of the review process.
South Korean Trademark Act adopts first-to-file and registration rules, and a sign that is distinguishable from other goods shall be registered as a trademark for protection.
The trademark act does not protect in any way the prior user. However, if the sign is a well-known trademark or famous trademark, it will be protected. Trademark registration has nothing to do with the internal use of a trademark in South Korea.
The KIPO will publish eligible trademarks after examining their source-identification and substantive authorizations.
Any person may file an opposition against a trademark within 30 days from the date of its publication. A trademark right comes into effect upon the registration of its establishment. The term of a registered trademark is 10 years and may be renewed for an additional 10 years upon applying to renew the term to get a semi-permanent protection.
On February 4, 2016, the full version of the Korean Trademark Law was approved by the Korean National Assembly and promulgated on February 29, and became effective on September 1, 2016.
The Korean Copyright Law was enacted on January 28, 1957, and the current version is amended by Decree No. 12137 of December 30, 2013.In South Korea, “works” which are protected as copyright shall mean creative productions in which the ideas or emotion of human beings are expressed, and shall not go beyond the scope of public understanding. However, this does not mean that copyright shall be tangible. Even if its form is intangible, as long as it can be sensed and understood, it can be a work. With certain exceptions, works can be registered and copyrighted. The registration of copyright means having the name of the author of the work and other items registered with the copyright register so that the public can search and read.

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