The Korean Republic Now Ranking 10th in the Global Innovation Index

Korea is proving to be an innovative market on the rise. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently released its Global Innovation Index 2020 report. The report focuses on annual innovation rankings of 131 global economies. For the year of 2020, WIPO has ranked the Republic of Korea as the second top-ranked economy for the South East Asia, East Asia, and Oceania region. Additionally, the Republic of Korea has made it into the top 10 globally for the first time- up from 11th in 2019.

Intellectual Property Trends

Korean IP Counsel and Founders Legal retained associates, Kim, Hong & Associates, provides insight on the latest Intellectual Property application trends, noting, “an increase in the number of applications is remarkable in the untact (which means contactless environment) industrial field.”

The firm continues, “While a negative economic growth in the worldwide major advanced countries has been expected due to the pandemic COVID-19 spread, the number of IP applications (including patent and trademark, etc.) has increased, showing a positive signal of an economic recovery.

According to IMF (International Monetary Fund), the global economic growth rate of this year is expected to decrease by 4.9% by each country’s blockade and the reduction in international trade due to COVID-19. Specially, a negative growth in the major advanced countries is forecasted as serious as 8.0% for US, 10.2% for Eurozone and 5.8% for Japan, among the others.

An expected economic growth rate for South Korea is △2.1% which is relatively higher than the other advanced countries. However, considering that it is the lowest in 22 years since the currency crisis in 1988 (△5.1%), it looks that South Korea also needs to prepare various measures to defend against the economic recession.

Despite those negative prospects, the number of Korean IP applications filed this year has increased compared with the last year, showing the possibility of economic recovery and growth.

In the patent, utility model, trademark, design applications (except for copyright), the total number of these IP applications filed during the first half of 2020 was 253,028, increasing by 4.5% compared with the same period of the previous year. 

The number of patent applications increased by 2.1% and the number of trademark application increased by 9.4%, leading the increasing trend of the total IP applications.

Over the first half of 2020, the number of patent applications was 99,336 (↑2.1%), the number of utility model applications was 2,306 (↓16.5%), the number of trademark applications was 120,833 (↑9.4%) and the number of design application was 30,522 (↓3.3%).

Patent, Utility Model, Trademark, Design Applications
Patent Applications
Trademark Applications

Although the activity of filing the IP applications was reduced for a while since last March when the COVID-19 spread was in earnest, the number of the applications rapidly increased by 17.3% in June compared with the previous month and by 20.7% compared with the same month of the previous year, recovering the increase tendency of the total number of the applications over the first half of 2020.

The increase in the number of the IP applications even during the emergency alert over economic activities is considered as resulting from the companies’ efforts to overcome COVID-19 through the untact technology services.

The number of patent applications filed in the untact-related fields including online shopping and distribution, etc. during the period of January-June 2020 increased by 27.2% compared with the first half of 2019. By months, the number of the applications filed in January decreased by 15.8% compared with the same month of the previous year but the number of the applications filed in the other months recorded the increase of two digits, respectively.

The performance in the trademark and design applications in the untact fields came out clearly.

The number of the trademark applications in the untact fields, such as e-commerce, communication and broadcasting, etc., increased by 12.5% (by 4,209 cases) compared with the first half of the previous year. Considering the increase in the total number of the trademark applications during the corresponding period was 10,356 cases, the untact fields are regarded as contributing by 40% or more to the increase of the trademark applications.

In the design applications, the total number thereof in the first half of 2020 decreased by 3.3% compared with the same period of 2019. However, the number of the design applications in the hygiene and medical sectors, such as masks and diagnosis booths, etc., increased by 238.3%, recording an increase of 42.6% in the entire untact fields.

Companies’ IP activities indicate the intention for creating a new industry and securing competitive advantage. Further, in the point that the recent IP activities have been focused on the untact industries, it is confirmed that coping with the post COVID-19 has been already performed in earnest by companies, etc.”

Improvements to Design Patent Application System

Additionally, Kim, Hong & Associates reports exciting news for the design patent realm. “The requirements for filing a drawing for a design application are greatly alleviated.”

“According to KIPO, the requirements for filing a drawing for a design application to be filed from September 1, 2020 are greatly alleviated, making it easier and convenient to file a design application.

From now, when an application for a font design is filed, it is acceptable to submit a font file (TTF).

Previously, after a font (font file) has been developed and manufactured, there was an inconvenience to additionally make a drawing when filing an application for the relevant design. However, as the submitting of a font file itself is allowed, the time and cost required for additionally making a drawing can be saved.

Further, in case of submitting a drawing in a 3D stereoscopic file when filing a design application and amending it, it is possible to submit a drawing in a 2D file. In case of submitting a drawing in a 2D file, it is allowable to be amended by a 3D stereoscopic file drawing. The 2D files are TIFF and JPEG and the 3D stereoscopic files are 3DS, DWG, DWF, IGES and 3DM.

Previously, when making an amendment after filing a design application, there was a restriction that the amendment must be submitted in the same file format as the file format of the drawing as submitted. For example, when an application was filed originally with a drawing in a 3D stereoscopic file format, an amendment was possible only with a drawing in a 3D stereoscopic file format. When an application was filed originally with a drawing in a 2D file format, an amendment was possible only with a drawing in a 2D file format.

However, in the future, such restriction will be lifted so that an applicant can select a file at his/her convenience, to more conveniently make an amendment.

In addition, a description of the matters, such as ‘national research and development program’ and ‘design transfer hope’, is allowed in a design application. Since such description can be informed to majority through a design publication, the promotion and transaction of a design right are expected to be active.”

When it comes to Intellectual Property Rights, it’s important to understand the requirements and considerations of your jurisdiction.  Businesses of all sizes need smart and effective solutions to protect what, in many cases, is their most valuable asset, their intellectual property.

At Founders Legal, we can help you effectively protect and manage your intellectual property on a global scale.

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