Reinforcement of Cooperative Patent Examination Importance
- Trend of Increasing Consultation Examinations among Examiners due to Increase in Patent Examiner Personnel -
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (‘KIPO’, Commissioner, PARK, Wonju), it has been shown that cases being examined through consultation with other examiners are gradually increasing in patent examination processes. * Number of Consultation Examination Cases (case): ’16) 18,296 → ’17) 19,194 → ’18) 21,863 → June ’19) 11,643 → ’19) 23,286 (estimation)
A consultation examination means an examination that in the case of applications requiring in-depth review such as for converged high technology, reexamination, etc., examiners having different areas of expertise communicate with each other and so review from more than one point of view. Also, consultation examinations supplement the limitations of examinations proceeded with by only one examiner and provide more coherent examination services.
Consultation examinations can be divided into consultation examinations at the first examination stage and consultation examinations at the reexamination stage. A ‘consultation examination at the first examination stage’ is a system in which from an early stage, a third party examiner with a different area of expertise cooperates with an examiner in charge to examine a case. It is proceeded with in the form of a ‘concentration investigation’ in which the third party examiner additionally reviews the whole filing invention, or in the form of an ‘additional search’ in which the third party examiner additionally searches prior art in different technologies than the examiner in charge. A ‘consultation examination at the reexamination stage’ is a system in which three people comprising a chief of a patent team, an examiner in charge and an assistant examiner discuss and finally decide at the last examination stage for an application being re-examined based on a reexamination requested by an applicant after the application was originally rejected.
Meanwhile, KIPO is continuously increasing the number of patent examiner personnel so it can raise examination quality through expansion of consultation examinations, and accordingly, 16 patent examiners were added in 2018, and 56 examiners in total are on staff this year. As a result, KIPO is able to prepare conditions that can expand consultation examinations among examiners that require more examination resources than are available for solo examinations.
KIPO stated, “From the end of this year, in relation to 4th Industrial Revolution technologies, KIPO plans to further strengthen the consultation system, including examinations based on consultation among 3 people” and said, “In relation to converged technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), etc. that can create new added value, KIPO expects that remarkable positive effects will be seen due to such consultation examinations”.