August 05, 2021

South Korea implements new international collaboration and design classification

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has taken steps to modernise and improve its IP protection process and legislation.

One proven method of enhancing the efficiency of the IP protection process in South Korea has been the use of international cooperations.

The first joint patent examination system for South Korea came into fruition in 2015, when the country entered into a pilot project of a Collaborative Search Program (CSP) with the United States. A further CSP pilot program was later implemented with China in 2019, and has been most recently implemented between South Korea and Saudi Arabia as of July 1, 2021.

Through the CSP, if an applicant files for a patent claiming the same invention in both South Korea and Saudi Arabia, examiners of both jurisdictions conduct a search for any prior art within 6 months from the date examination was requested and may share their findings, thus collaborating to form the search results in a more consistent and expedited manner than if conducted in each respective country separately.

The implementation of the joint patent examination system between South Korea and Saudi Arabia will provide for a more simplified route for applicants filing the same invention in both jurisdictions, and is hoped to promote business expansion bilaterally.

Also having entered into effect as of July 1, 2021, a new version of the industrial design classification system was introduced in South Korea, namely the Locarno-based Unified Classification (LUC).

Since July 1, 2014, the jurisdiction utilised the internationally recognised Locarno system to define classification of designs, as well as the national design classification system. The use of both systems simultaneously caused some confusion as to discrepancies between the scope of products identified under the two different classifications.

Under the latest change, the Locarno International Classification will be applicable throughout the application stage in South Korea, however, the new Locarno-based Unified Classification system will be utilised during the examination stage.

It is hoped that the newly implemented LUC system in South Korea will ensure a more efficient and uniform method for defining the use, function, and form of design application subject matter throughout the industrial design examination process.

The changes introduced into the South Korean IP system are hoped to assist with the growth of business and innovation in the country. Furthermore, they show an ongoing endeavour to move toward a more modernised IP system in South Korea, and encourage applicants to file for IP rights within the jurisdiction.

Author: Danielle Carvey