2021 New Intellectual Property System
The Korean Intellectual Property Office announced the "2021 New Intellectual Property System", including the implementation of a system of punitive damages for stealing ideas, tax deductions for patent search and analysis costs for small and medium-sized companies, and the introduction of a mobile patent application system.
The new year's changes to the intellectual property system focus on strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, minimizing Covid-19 damage by supporting small and medium-sized companies and enhancing the convenience of acquiring intellectual property rights. The major systems that will change in 2021 are as follows.
○ A person who intentionally steals another person's idea shall compensate up to three times the amount recognized as damages. (April 2021) It will also improve the method of calculating the amount of damages under the Trademark Act, the Design Protection Act, and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act so that sales exceeding the right holder’s production capacity can be compensated. (June 2021)
○ If a recommendation for correction of unfair competition is not followed, the government gazette, etc. may disclose the unfair competition violation. (April 2021) In addition, if an administrative investigation of unfair competition and an industrial property dispute mediation are conducted simultaneously, the administrative investigation will be suspended and whether to re-investigate will be determined according to the outcome of the dispute mediation. (April 2021)
○ Small and medium-sized companies who suspect leakage of business secrets can receive support for digital forensics to secure initial evidence of the leakage as needed for civil and criminal lawsuits. (January 2021)
○ Expenses for patent search and analysis spent by small and medium-sized enterprises through "industrial property rights diagnosis institutions" will be included in the R&D tax deduction list. (Applied from January 2021)
○ The government will expand the scope of fee reductions to all subjects during joint research with small and medium-sized enterprises and reduce application fees, examination fees, and establishment registration fees by 50%. (March 2021)
○ In order to strengthen support for responding to patent disputes by exporting companies in relation to materials, parts, and equipment, monitoring of dispute information, pre-diagnosis and consultation regarding dispute risks, and establishing dispute response strategies is expanded. (January 2021)
○The scope of cost supports for examination responses and registrations for foreign applications of Global IP star companies (small and medium-sized promising exporters in the region) will be expanded from being applicable only to patents to now also include trademarks and designs. (January 2021)
○ It will be possible to apply for patents, utility models, and design rights by using smartphones. In addition, most Korean Intellectual Property Office services, such as those related to payment of fees and receipt of notices, will be possible through mobile phones (December 2020)
○ Detailed criteria are established for the examination of new types of trademarks and existing non-typical trademarks such as action and color trademarks. (January 2021) Also, the number of drawings required to be submitted for stereoscopic and position trademarks will be eased. (February 2021)
○Subjects for which a collective examination may be requested will be expanded and collective examination requirements will be eased. Products consisting of similar products or digital services will also be subject to collective examination, and startups will be able to use collective examinations. (December 2020) In the case that an application requesting collective examination is decided to be rejected, an appeal against such decision will be added to the allowable priority appeals so that whether to grant could be reviewed at an early date. (March 2021)
○A system for applicants’ convenience, such as lowering application fees (March 2021) to encourage the use of the temporary specification system by which as-they-are papers or research notes can be applied for, and expanding the application items subject to the design partial-substantive examination system to food, miscellaneous goods, packaging, jewelry, etc. will be introduced. (December 2020)
In addition, new systems will be implemented such as support for patent-based technology start-ups for senior retirement workers (January 2021) and expansion of video oral hearings and technical briefing sessions (January 2021) in patent trial cases.