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Patent Referee Announces Guidelines on Brand Recognition Survey Methodology

The Patent Referee (President Park Sung-joon) presented survey method guidelines so that testimony involving surveys of consumer awareness of brands submitted for patent judgment can be recognized.

A consumer awareness survey is a search for the degree of a general consumer’s awareness of a trademark with regard to judgment on trademark registerability, and such a search is used to prove whether a trademark is a well-known trademark, or a common mark but one who’s discrimination is recognized by consumers due to usage over a long period of time.

In the US and Europe, consumer awareness is used as important evidence in trademark disputes, and the number of cases in Korea in which the results of this kind of survey are reflected in Patent Court judgments is increasing.

The main findings are:

  • A survey should be conducted through reliable survey methods through a survey agency.

  • The characteristics (region, gender, age, etc.) which can represent the consumers of a corresponding product should be reflected. The survey method criteria include:

  • The response rate should be above 50% to be credible.

  • Sample size of respondents is flexible depending on the product type, but generally it should be at least 500, and if over 1,000, reliability will be deemed high. In the questioning method,

  • Questions should be concise, clear, and not inductive, and should not be beyond the ability or experience of the respondent.

Head patent referee Park Sung-joon said, "The guidelines on brand consumer awareness surveys are to reconsider survey effectiveness so that they clearly show survey criteria in order for judges to be able to use such surveys more effectively."


Brand Consumer Awareness Survey Guidelines:

In the case that a person directly involved in a judgment submits a consumer awareness survey (survey) as evidence as to whether a trademark is a well-known or famous trademark or has discrimination by use, the judge (examiner) shall determine the reliability of the survey by considering the following.

1) It should be conducted by a survey method that has been verified by a reliable survey agency.

  • Whether a survey agency is reliable should be judged considering the size of the survey agency, the number of surveys conducted, and the number of experts engaged in full-time analysis, but there may be various other factors that should be considered.

  • The approximately 80 Central Election Commission Review Committee registrants which are currently active, such as Korea Gallop, Media Research, Realmeter, etc., are regarded as independent public survey agencies.

2) Characteristics (region, gender, age, etc.) should be reflected that can represent the consumer of the corresponding trademarks and products.

  • Specimens may differ by product, so if the characteristics of a product are important (e.g., women's products, medicines used for specific diseases or illnesses), those characteristics should be reflected.

3) The reliability of survey methods used should be high.

  • If the response recovery rate is less than 30%, reliability will be deemed low, and if it is more than 50%, reliability will be deemed high. - However, in the case of between 30% and 50%, there is room for discretion or judgment.The response sample size is flexible depending on product type, but generally it should be at least 500, and if it is over 1,000, reliability will be deemed high.

  • The method of questioning should be clear and not inductive. - Survey items should be composed of simple and clear sentences about one topic. - Survey items should be equally understandable to all respondents, without presuming unstated content. - Survey items should not be beyond the ability or experience of the respondent, should not use specific examples to express common cases, and should not ask unrelated questions. - Self surveys in which the survey subjects or methods are not verified are not considered reliable. - In the case of a survey conducted after a considerable period of time has elapsed from the judgment reference point, reliability cannot be reflected because it cannot reflect consumer awareness at that time.

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