Reinforcement of Cooperative Examinations for Trademarks
-Innovating examinations by increasing the number of trademark examiners-
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (Commissioner Park Won-Joo), cooperative examinations among examiners are being actively conducted in trademark examinations.
∙ Number of cooperative trademark examinations: (2017) 1,356 cases, (2018) 2,407 cases, (through June of 2019) 1,752 cases, (2019 expected total) 3,504 cases
A cooperative examination is usually conducted by three to six examiners using the examination format of an examiner in charge hearing the opinions of the other examiners and then deciding on the direction of the examination.
Cooperative trademark examinations are mainly used for applications that may be socially controversial, such as applications for which it seems to be difficult to judge distinctiveness or similarity, or in relation to newly coined words.
In the case that a cooperative examination is needed, the examiner in charge designates through the examination system examiners who have expertise in the relevant field, and in the case of an examiner requesting a cooperative examination, the examination is conducted in the form that the designated examiner suggests the opinion. Since cooperative examination results remain in the record and can be shared with all examiners, such examinations are efficient for increasing examination consistency.
The reason cooperative examinations are able to be actively conducted is because of an increase in examination personnel and management’s focus on the quality of the trademark team as implemented from the second half of 2018.
Last year, KIPO added nine trademark examination personnel and prepared conditions for strengthening cooperative examinations.
In addition, the management system for examination quality was also revised to derive proper examination direction through active communication and cooperative examinations among team members, including the head of the examiners.
In addition to the current cooperative examinations, KIPO plans to launch discussion-based joint examinations in the second half of this year in order to further enhance the quality of trademark examinations,.
The discussion-type joint examination has completed its demonstration as a new examination method in which all the team members and advisory examiners gather to conclude a decision for an application requiring a high-level of examination.
<Difference between trademark cooperative examinations and discussion-type joint examinations>
* Advisory Examiner: Person who has expertise in the relevant field as another team examiner in the same department
KIPO is also planning to add additional examiners to set up discussion-type joint examinations for next year.
KIPO's Trademark Policy Division said, “Cooperative examinations have been reinforced by an increase in examiners, so examination quality has improved as can be seen by the increased rate of acceptance by applicants of the results of trademark examinations. Going forward, we expect that the quality of examinations will be even higher with the increase of cooperative examinations and implementation of discussion-type joint examinations. ”