30x Increase in Examinations for International Patent Applications over Last 20 Years
-Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) analyzes the business expansion trend over the 20 years since initiating international search tasks-
It has now been 20 years since KIPO initiated international search tasks for international patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
According to KIPO, Korea started international searches on December 1, 1999 and the number of annual international search cases increased by 30 times during those 20 years, from 800 cases in 2000 to 23,000 cases at the end of October of 2019. Such numbers correspond to 4th largest examination category.
<Trend of increase in international search cases>
<International search cases/ratio in 2019 (as of October) by country)>
It is analyzed that such increase in the number of examination cases could be the result of not only the outstanding examination bureau workforce giving timely high quality international search results, but also because international patent applications were able to be filed in the respective national languages since January 2009 so that inventors such as domestic small and medium-sized businesses could file international patent applications more easily and cheaply than before.
International patent applications being filed in Korea began at the numbers of 10 cases in 1984 and 23 cases in 1985; however, those numbers increased rapidly after the allowance of filing international applications with national language descriptions. 16,991 cases of such applications were filed in 2018, while 15,086 cases (88.8%) were filed with bilingual descriptions.
<PCT applications filing status over most recent 5 years in Korea >
Meanwhile, countries who request international searches in Korea increased from 2 countries in 2002 (the Philippines and Vietnam) to 19 countries in the current year of 2019 (USA and Australia, etc.).
<International search task contracting parties who designated KIPO as an International Searching Authority>
The Philippines and Vietnam (2002) → Indonesia (2003) → Mongolia (2004) → New Zealand (2005) → USA, Singapore and Malaysia (2006) → Australia, Thailand and Sri Lanka (2009) → Chile (2010) → Peru (2012) → Saudi Arabia (2015) → Mexico (2016) → Colombia (2017) → UAE (2018) → Brunei and Cambodia (2019)
Especially, the New Southbound Policy and resulting connections have been reinforcing this trend, for example, Brunei and Cambodia which belong to ASEAN were included in 2019.
In the enterprise aspect, domestic enterprises such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, along with outstanding foreign companies like Intel Corporation, GE, Microsoft Corporation and Apple, Inc. etc., are currently requesting for their international searches.
Meanwhile, examination work in Korea has recently been exported to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and has become a model for such business by having a Korean Examiner directly examine patents belonging to the two countries. This clearly demonstrates that international search tasks in Korea are recognized by foreign patent offices and global enterprises.
In the aspect of search fee income, KIPO is recognized as being among the highest level of International Searching Authorities in the world since KIPO earned an annual average of 17 billion won during the last 5 years (from 2014 to 2018) from foreign countries and also earned 10.3 billion won in 2019 through October.
The team leader of the 2nd International Patent Application Examination Bureau in KIPO stated, “Although filings of international applications by domestic applicants and requests for international searches from foreign countries have increased enormously during the last 20 years based on KIPO’s efforts regarding PCT examinations, we will continue to put emphasis on system innovation without settling for the current results.”