DATE : 14-03-18
2012 Overview of IP Examination Trend in Korea
 
HIT : 3,022  
Source: KIPO

IPR applications

Industrial property applications saw a rise until 2007; however, the trend for applications continuously decreased from 2008 due to the global economic crisis. This trend was reversed in 2011 and a new record for the number of applications was set in 2012 as a result of future-oriented investment by companies dominating new technologies and brands.

In 2012, the total number of applications for industrial property rights increased for the second consecutive year reaching 396,996, a 7% growth from 371,116 in 2011.

By right, applications for patents increased year-on-year by 5.6% to 188,915, utility models by 4.8% to 12,424, trademarks by 7% to 132,522, and industrial designs by 11.7% to 63,135. There has been a noticeable rise in the number of patent applications for three consecutive years since 2010.

 
IPR Type 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Patents 170,632 163,523 170,101 178,924 188,915
Utility
Models
17,405 17,114 13,661 11,854 12,424
Subtotal 188,037 180,667 183,762 190,778 201,339
Industrial designs 56,750 (58,912) 57,903 (59,537) 57,187 (59,204) 56,524 (58,571) 63,135
(65,469)
Trademarks 127,910 (178,211) 126,420 (62,682) 121,125 (153,179) 123,814 (150,977) 132,522
(160,447)
Total 372,697 (425,160) 364,990 (402,886) 362,074 (396,145) 371,116 (400,326) 396,996
(427,255)

* Figures in parentheses include multiple applications.
* Trademark statistics include registration applications renewed prior to the amended Trademark Act (July 28, 2010).


PCT & Madrid

According to WIPO statistics in May 2013, the number of global international applications filed under the PCT increased by 6.6 percent from 182,379 in 2011 to 194,400 in 2012.

Korea increased its number of PCT applications by 13.4 percent from 10,447 in 2011 to 11,848 in 2012, accounting for 6.1 percent of all PCT applications and the 5th largest amount by country of origin. International applications filed under the PCT by Korean applicants have steadily increased on an annual basis primarily due to a clearer understanding of the advantages of the PCT system, rising awareness of the importance of IPRs, and continued efforts to consolidate patent rights abroad.

Meanwhile, the total number of international trademark applications under the Madrid System increased by 4.1 percent from 42,270 in 2011 to 44,018 in 2012. Korea increased its number of Madrid international applications by 3.5 percent from 485 in 2011 to 502 in 2012, the 18th largest amount by country of origin. The number of Madrid international applications by foreigners designating Korea reached 10,090 in 2012, a 2.7 percent growth from 9,821 in 2011.

 
Rank Country 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Growth (%)
1 USA 51,643 45,628 45,029 49,060 51,207 4.4
2 Japan 28,760 29,802 32,150 38,874 43,660 12.3
3 Germany 18,855 16,797 17,568 18,851 18,855 -
4 China 6,120 7,900 12,296 16,402 18,627 13.6
5 Republic of Korea 7,899 8,035 9,669 10,447 11,848 13.4
< Data source: WIPO, 2013 PCT Yearly Review (May 2013) >

Reducing the examination pendency period

The average first action pendency period by right in 2012 was 14.8 months for patents and utility models, 8.9 months for trademarks, and 8.8 months for designs. Compared to 2011, the pendency period was reduced by 2.0 months in the case of patents and utility models, 1.1 months for trademarks and 1.2 months for designs. We have set the targets for 2013 to 13.3 months for patents and utility models and 8.3 months for trademarks and designs to keep examination periods competitive. Since IPR applications and requests for international searches under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are steadily increasing, we are making multifarious efforts to increase examination manpower and improve the examination system.

IPR Type 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Patents & Utility Models 12.1 15.4 18.5 16.8 14.8
Designs 5.6 9 10 10 8.8
Trademarks 6.5 9.7 10.6 10 8.9

Increasing examination manpower

To reduce the examination pendency period, we are continuously increasing our pool of examiners. We recruited 44 PhD holders and experts in various technological fields and 5 experts in the area of trademark and design in 2012. We plan to continue recruiting examiners in the future. Our designated staff for examination (excluding contract examiners) in 2012 amounted to 726 for patents and utility models and 162 for trademarks and designs.

Outsourcing prior art searches

Over the past year, we outsourced the prior art searches for 84,230 patent and utility model applications (47.7% of the total number of applications), 2,730 applications more than the filings from the previous year. In addition, we outsourced prior trademark searches for 39,771 trademark applications (27.5% of the total number of applications) and prior design searches for 10,228 design applications (15% of all applications). As a result, we succeeded in expediting the examination pendency period. We plan to outsource prior art searches for 92,993 patent and utility model applications as well as prior trademark searches for 51,011 trademark applications in 2013. As for design applications, we plan to outsource prior design searches for 17,712 applications (25% of expected applications), a 7,484 filing increase year-on year, to increase the speed of examination for designs.

International search reports and international preliminary examinations

According to WIPO’s PCT Yearly Review 2013, the number of international search reports received by KIPO totaled 27,442 in 2012, a 1.1 percent rise from 27,139 in 2011. Of these, the number of requests submitted by Korean applicants reached 11,781, a 15.2 percent increase from 2011.

The number of international preliminary examinations received by KIPO in 2012 was 249 (may be incomplete), almost the same amount as 2011. The numbers have continuously decreased over the last few years due to the amendments to PCT regulations in 2002, which extended the time taken to enter the designated states from 20 months to 30 months, even if international preliminary examination has not been requested. This trend is also partly due to the International Searching Authority reviewing the patentability of applications since 2004.

Registrations

The total number of registrations for industrial property rights in 2012 reached 243,869, a 14 percent growth from 214,013 in 2011. The registration trend for IPRs showed an increase for three consecutive years since 2010.

Registrations for all industrial property rights increased compared to the previous year. Registration for patents increased by 19.8 percent year-on-year reaching 113,467, utility models increased by 8.5 percent to 6,353, trademarks by 9.3 percent to 77,903 and designs by 9.4 percent to 46,146.

IPR Type 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Patents 83,523 56,732 68,843 94,720 113,467
Utility Models 4,975 3,949 4,301 5,853 6,353
Designs 39,858 32,091 33,697 42,185 46,146
Trademarks 65,583 53,155 53,136 71,255 77,903
Total 193,939 145,927 159,977 214,013 243,869

Trials

The number of requests for trial increased by 2.2 percent year-on-year to 14,747, in 2012. By right, patents increased by 3.9 percent reaching 10,039, designs increased by 29.9 percent reaching 569, utility models decreased by 15 percent to 402, and trademarks increased by 3.1 percent to 3,737.
The number of closed trial cases totaled 10,362 in 2012 (5,581 patents, 424 utility models, 489 designs, and 3,868 trademarks) decreasing by 2.2 percent year-on-year. Only trials for patents increased slightly, by 2.0 percent, while others showed a decrease.

                                                            Requested trials and appeals by IPR type  
IPR Type 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Patents 12,238 10,561 9,270 9,664 10,039
Utility Models 906 828 559 473 402
Designs 766(806) 663(677) 689(691) 438(439) 569(577)
Trademarks 4,954(7,040) 3,531(5,058) 3,354(4,668) 3,855(5,307) 3,737(5,201)
Total 18,864(20,990) 15,583(17,124) 13,872(15,188) 14,430(15,883) 14,747(16,219)
* Figures in parentheses include multiple applications.

Last updated 29 OCTOBER 2013