2021 Updates to Korea’s Secret Design System

As of April 1, 2021, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has announced that its secret design system, for design filings, will be improved to further strengthen the protection of a company’s design and business strategy from competition.

The KIPO notes that the design application system applies to articles that are sensitive towards trends, such as “foodstuffs (Class 1), clothing and haberdashery (Class 2), travel goods (Class 3),Textile piece goods, artificial and natural sheet material (Class 5), Packages (Class 9), articles of adornment (Class 11), Stationery and office equipment, artists’ and teaching materials (Class 19).”

Prior to the improvements, a party was able to request to keep specific components of a patent design undisclosed for up to three years from their design registration date. These components included images and drawings of the design and the description of the design. Under the new improvements to the system, parties will additionally be entitled to withhold the design’s title and Locarno Classification (LOC).

Founders Legal retained foreign counsel Kim, Hong & Associates made an announcement in their Korean IP Newsletter stating that, “previously the name of an article and the classification of the article were disclosed in the registered design.” Adding, that in the past, “there was concern that a company’s new product development trend may be indirectly exposed to a competitor.”

Kim, Hong & Associates also reports that “the number of the cases requesting a secret design has been more than 2,000 every year since 2016 and it increased in 2020 by more than 2 times compared to 2014.” These numbers are expected to continue increasing in the future.

For questions regarding these new changes or to speak with an attorney regarding design rights nationally and internationally, please contact our intellectual property group at info@founderslegal.com or +1 404-537-3686.