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Relaxation of KIPO’s Power of Attorney Regulation for Foreign Corporations

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that an improved system for ‘Certification Document Submission’ related to power of attorney will be implemented as of August 10, 2018 so that foreign corporations can more easily file patent or trademark applications in Korea.

Up until now, KIPO has requested foreign corporate applicants to, when filing a patent or trademark application with a power of attorney, submit a notarized document in order to confirm whether or not the signer has authority to sign the power of attorney in the case of the signer not being a representative. Foreign corporations have had difficulties in filing applications in Korea since they have had to submit such a notarized document for the power of attorney from the filing stage, and thus the related industry has hoped to improve the system by arguing that the system does not take into consideration foreign corporate reality and culture in relation to signatures.

In order to resolve these problems, KIPO has prepared and set up a revision through discussion and consultation with the Korean Patent Attorneys Association and through collection of feedback from relevant organizations. The major component of this improved system for power of attorney is that the administration standard has been simplified so that, beyond a power of attorney, it does not require submission of a separate certification document at the time of filing general application documents.

However, when an applicant can be disadvantaged, such as in withdrawal or cancellation of a patent application, its agent must submit a document which shows that the agent has agency authority. In addition, when an interested party objects to the presence or absence of agency authority, a notarized document confirming the agency authority more specifically should be submitted so that the applicant’s right can be actively protected in the patent process. Moreover, the certification documents to be submitted are expanded to an Authorization Recognition letter* (signer) and an Authorization Confirmation letter** (Korean agent) which both confirm that the applicant (signer) has authority to sign, in addition to the existing notarized document.

* Authorization Recognition letter (signer): a statement in which the signer him/herself affirms that he/she has legitimate authority to sign the power of attorney.

** Authorization Confirmation letter (agent): a statement in which a Korean agent affirms that the signer of a power of attorney has authority.

Sung Yoon-mo, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, said, “the cases for submitting certification documents for English power of attorney for a foreign corporation were greatly reduced to the relationships of right which can be unfavorable to the applicant, and the documents to be submitted have been added to with requirements for an ‘Authorization Recognition letter (signer) and Authorization Confirmation letter (agent)’, so we expect that the inconvenience to foreign corporations caused by notarization will be considerably relieved”.

□ Current

A foreign corporation must submit a power of attorney for the appointment of an agent in order to file an application in Korea.

▸If the signer of the power of attorney is the representative of the corporation: No Certification document needs to be submitted

▸If the signer of the power of attorney is not a representative: Certification documents must be submitted for all procedures (including general procedures such as filing a patent application, special authorization*)

* Special authorization [Patent Act Article 6 (scope of agency authority)]: 1. To modify, abandon or withdraw a patent application; 2. To relinquish a patent; 3. To withdraw an application for registering a patent term extension; 4. To withdraw an application; 5. To withdraw a request; 6. To claim priority under Article 55(1) or withdraw a priority claim; 7. To file a petition for trial under Article 132-3; 8. To appoint a sub-agent.]

(In the case of a trademark, Trademark Act Article 7 applies, in the case of a design, Design Protection Act Article 7)

□ Improvement (implemented on Aug. 10, 2018 [Friday] based on document submission date)

▸ If the signer of a power of attorney is a representative: No certification document is required (same as current)

▸ If the signatory of the power of attorney is not a representative: In principle, no certification documents are required.

- Merely, cases which require special authority (including general power of attorney) require the submission of certification documents [notarized document or an Authorization Recognition letter (signer) and an Authorization Confirmation letter (agent)]

※ If there is an objection to the existence of agency authority, regardless of whether the representative has signed or not, a notarized document must be submitted.

※ an Authorization Recognition letter (signer) and an Authorization Confirmation letter (agent) should be submitted separately for each one copy in principle. However, a power of attorney in which the corresponding words are included can be also accepted.

□ Comparison of Before and After Improvement

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