Increase in filings of trademark applications in relation to multifunctional goods for protection against COVID-19
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that the filing of trademark applications for goods related to the contactless era (known as “untact” in Korea) is continuously increasing with the untact industry market‘s growth due to the effects of the digital transition and COVID-19. According to KIPO, new goods with functions for protection against COVID-19 or with peculiar ideas are especially appearing.
* Filing trend for electronic commerce/telecommunications broadcasting: (2019) 77,095 (10%) → (2020) 91,848 (16.1%)
Electronic goods related to COVID-19 are “cooling and refrigerating containers for medical use, medicine storage management systems and diagnostic apparatus for medical purposes”, which are used for containing chemicals (vaccines, etc.), and “temperature checking kiosks, CCTV cameras for face recognition and untact heat detection, heat detection devices (other than for medical purposes), and no contact thermometers in the shape of stickers”, which are used for checking temperature. Also, the filings of applications in relation to designated goods classified as heated antiseptic products such as “portable sterilizers, uv sterilisation devices in the shape of personal portable tumblers, hand sterilizers with body heat detection”, etc. are increasing.
*Filing trend for medical apparatus and instruments for masks (Class 10): (2019) 5,859 (16.9%) → (2020) 7,332 (25.1%)
*Filing trend for heated sanitary apparatus (Class 11): (2019) 5,975 (19.3%) → (2020) 6,416 (6.9%)
<Filing status (cases) of main goods related to COVID-10 (Classes 5, 9, 10 and 11)>
Especially, goods with various forms and functions can be found in the filings of trademark applications by looking at masks which have become a necessity in the coronavirus era.
Adding functions to masks for blocking viruses and fine dust according to users’ convenience or new forms correspond to the above case, for example, electronic masks with an air conditioning function, transparent masks through which a mouth shape can be seen, and fashion masks available for inserting hygiene filters.
Filings of trademark applications in relation to components which are to resolve inconveniences of masks such as “mask holders, hanging devices for preventing ear pain, fragrance stickers for bad breath suppression, mask cases” etc., are noticeable.
Other than that, filings of trademark applications in relation to goods for minimizing contact have become more various, for example, “untact button press stick, untact wireless switch for automatic door”, etc.
Meanwhile, regarding coronavirus vaccine medicines, marks such as “COVIWIN, COVIZERO and COVICUT” have designated ‘pharmaceutical preparations for coronavirus, vaccine preparations, diagnostic preparations’ as goods and been first registered (April 2, 2021), and also the marks “SKYCOVID19, COVID19 IG, Covisma, COVI and STOP COVID” are currently under examination.
* Filing trend for medicinal preparations (Class 5): (2019) 11,025 (13.4%) → (2020) 12,818 (16.3%)
Due to the increase in filings of trademark applications related to such multiple functions, applicants have faced some difficulties.
Applicants should clearly describe where to use their marks at the time of filing applications; however, such descriptions are not easy.
If a goods name of a mark is not appropriately chosen, registration of the mark can be delayed or rejected, so the name should be clearly described by considering the mark’s main function or use.
For example, “air conditioning masks” should be classified as “hygiene masks with air conditioning functions” or “wearable air conditioner”, etc. according to the main function and quality involved.
Also, “transparent masks”, for which the use is unclear, should not be filed as a new goods name: It should be described by limiting its use to “transparent mask for hygiene, transparent mask for protection”, etc.
KIPO provides guidance with a list of “Notification of products and unclear names which can easily mislead” via its patent information search services (www.kipris.or.kr) and KIPO’s homepage (www.kipo.go.kr) in order for applicants to be able to refer to them at the time of describing designated goods. Also, in order to promote positive administration, KIPO plans to make a section on their homepage for suggesting new names for goods.