KIPO to Conduct Consensus-type Cooperative Examinations
in Technology Convergence Fields
-Driving creation of strong patents by switching from an ‘examination by one-examiner’ system to an ‘examination by three-examiners’ system-
KIPO has announced that the Convergence Technology Examination Bureau (hereinafter referred to as the Convergence Bureau), which was newly established via a reorganization on November 1, 2019, will be conducting consensus-type cooperative examinations.
Until now, patent examinations have been conducted either by one examiner alone or under the name of one examiner with the opinion or advice of other examiners provided at some stage of the examination.
However, the consensus-type cooperative examinations to be conducted by the newly established Convergence Bureau will take the form of three examiners gathering opinions and deciding in the name of all three examiners from the initial stage, much as is done in the consensus panel of the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board or in the Patent Court. This method is also being used by the European Patent Office (EPO) but has not been adopted by other major patent offices such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Japan Patent Office (JPO).
There have been many difficulties in understanding technologies related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and applying patent requirements to them because many inventions are combinations of two or more technologies. However, the introduction of the cooperative examination system is expected to resolve this problem.
Also, even in the same technical field, results of examinations may differ due to the differing viewpoints of various examiners. Accordingly, consensus-type cooperative examination is expected to greatly help improve the consistency of examinations.
Consensus-type examinations by three examiners will begin to be conducted for cases filed in Fourth Industrial Revolution Technology fields, and will gradually be increased to 50% of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Technology examination volume by the fourth quarter of next year.
KIPO expects that the significant change from ‘examination by one examiner’ to consensus-type cooperative examinations will be legally stabilized and will lead to the creation of strong patents for Korean industry’s leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Chief of the Convergence Technology Examination Bureau of KIPO stated, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution provides an excellent opportunity to revitalize the Korean economy, but as the existing patent examination system has limited ability to respond to it, we are introducing consensus-typed cooperative examinations in order to fundamentally change the means of our work. We hope that this change at KIPO will be a leap forward for creating strong patents, and we will do our best to provide high-quality examination services going forward.”