Navigating Korean Patent Law Changes: Accelerated Examination, PTEs, and Court Decisions

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has recently introduced several new measures to improve and streamline the patent examination process, including accelerated patent examination, patent term extensions, recent court decisions, and updates in trademark, design, and utility model legislation.

Accelerating Patent Examination: A Faster Path to Patent Approval

KIPO has introduced five new measures aimed at accelerating the patent examination process, including:

  1. Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) System
  2. Search Agency Route
  3. Working-of-Invention Route
  4. Technology-based Route
  5. KIPO-issued WO/ISA Route

These measures are expected to significantly reduce the time it takes to obtain a patent in Korea, providing a more efficient and streamlined patent approval process.

Maximizing Patent Term Extension(PTEs)

Korea’s patent term extension (PTE) is flexible in enabling the potential for multiple extensions. These unique aspects allow patent holders in Korea to obtain longer PTE when the Korean Patent Office delays the examination of an application.

Recent Case Law: Divisional Applications and ST.26 Standards

The Korean Supreme Court’s recent clarification regarding the grace period for divisional applications is a significant development for patent holders in Korea. Additionally, KIPO’s adoption of the WIPO ST.26 Standards for Sequence Listings provides valuable guidance for patent applications involving biological materials and will better align the KIPO with current global standards.

Trademark Updates: Virtual Goods and the Partial Refusal System

KIPO has also updated its Trademark Examination Guidelines for “Virtual Goods” and introduced a new Partial Refusal System for trademark applications, making the trademark examination process more efficient and up-to-date with the digital landscape.

Patent, Trademark, Design, and Utility Model Updates: Recovering Costs and Criminal Law Provisions

KIPO has also revised the rules on recovering costs in Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPTAB) proceedings, making it more cost-effective for parties to enforce their IP rights in Korea. Additionally, changes to the criminal law provisions prosecute both design and utility patent infringement.


These recent developments in Korean patent law demonstrate KIPO’s commitment to fostering a competitive and efficient intellectual property landscape. If you have any questions about these changes or require assistance with any aspect of patent law in Korea, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced intellectual property and patent law team at Founders Legal.