January 26, 2015
KIPO's "2014 Examination and Trial Performance Report and Plans for 2015"
In 2014, more than 210,000 patent applications were filed with KIPO (the fourth highest amount worldwide), and more than 130,000 patents were registered. KIPO reduced its patent pendency to 11 months.
There were about 150,000 trademark applications and 65,000 design applications-respectively-speaking, the 7th and 3rd highest amounts worldwide. There were 11,981 trial requests, and trial pendency was an average of 7.9 months.
KIPO Commissioner Kim Youngmin announced in the "2014 Examination and Trial Performance Report and Plans for 2015" that "we have achieved last year's publically pledged goal of reducing pendency." He also stated that "KIPO will do its utmost to continue to provide expedited and reliable examination and trial services to the public this year, as well."
<Filing and Registration Figures>
A total of 434,000 industrial property applications (i.e., applications pertaining to patents, utility models, trademarks, and designs) were filed with KIPO, a 0.9% increase from 43,164 in 2013.
- The number of patent applications filed stood at 210,000. This was a 2.8% increase from 204,589 in 2013-a relatively minor gain compared to the average annual growth rate of 6.3% that KIPO experienced in this area throughout the past three years.
- Trademark applications numbered 150,000 (a 1.7% increase from 147,667 in 2013), and design applications totaled 64,000 (a 3.9% increase from 66,940 in 2013).
In 2014, there were 288,553 industrial property registrations (i.e., registrations pertaining to patents, utility models, trademarks, and designs), a 2.8% increase from 280,691 in 2013.
International IP applications (including PCT filings and international trademark and design applications) numbered 57,686, a 2.4% increase from 56,334 in 2013.
On a side note, the number of PCT filings by Korean applicants has steadily risen over the past several years. When compared to five years ago, the number of PCT filings by Korean applicants has increased by 36.6% to remain the 5th highest amount of PCT filings worldwide, and international trademark filings have increased by a whopping 74.3%.
<The 2014 Examination and Trial Performance Report and Plans for 2015>
① Performance Report and Plans for Patents and Utility Models
A total of 172,000 patent and utility model applications were examined in 2014.
- When taking outsourced prior art searches into account, the average number of applications examined last year per examiner was 207.
- KIPO introduced measures to reduce its patent examiner workloads, which were generally considered higher than those of the USPTO and the EPO, in an effort to prevent deterioration in examination quality. By the same token, KIPO plans to increase the number of examiners on its staff next year.
- KIPO received 30,000 requests for PCT International Searches (18,000 of which came from outside Korea), resulting in USD 21.4 million in added revenue.
In striving to improve the quality of its patent examination, KIPO implemented the Positive Examination service, which helps the applicants acquire high-quality patents by boosting interactive communication with examiners regarding the proper scope of the inventions
* Positive Examination performance in 2014: 47 preliminary examination requests made, 15 collective examination cases¹ reviewed (92 related applications), and 13,223 suggestions for amendments provided (7.27% of positive examination cases)
KIPO aims to reduce its average examination pendency to 10 months by the end of 2015.
- To accomplish this, next year KIPO plans to process up to 176,000 patent and utility model applications, along with 33,700 PCT International Searches.
- By assigning reasonable workloads to patent examiners, KIPO expects to provide world-class, high quality examination services. In addition, KIPO is planning to launch its Patent Examination 3.0 Service sometime in the very near future.
¹examinations in which multiple applications related to one product are examined simultaneously
② Performance Report and Plans for Trademarks and Designs
A total of 147,602 trademark examinations and 68,847 design examinations were processed.
- Taking outsourced searches and analyses into account, last year examiners examined an average of 1,300 trademark applications and 1,500 design applications.
KIPO amended the Trademark Act in a bid to deny trademark registrations to trademark brokers. It also implemented guidelines for strengthening the ex officio powers of examiners, leading to the rejection of 3,000 "bad faith" trademark filings.
- Under the Hague System for the international registration of industrial designs, more than 100 design applications have been filed by Korean firms, and more than 1,000 design applications have been filed by foreign enterprises since Korea's adoption of the System last July.
KIPO aims to reduce its average trademark and design pendency to 5 months, and to process at least 151,000 trademark applications and 65,000 design examinations.
③ Performance Report and Plans for Trials
In 2014, KIPO's average trial pendency was 7.9 months. A total of 11,981 trial requests were made, and 12,254 trials were processed.
- The number of trial requests decreased by 7.9% for a total of 1,033. This decrease is attributable to our newly adopted reexamination system.
- To enhance user convenience in remote places, the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPTAB) developed a Remote Video Oral Hearing System and launched it on April 24, 2014. Out of the 505 oral hearings that KIPO held, 105 of them─20.8%─were processed via the Remote Video Hearing System.
The IPTAB aims to reduce pendency periods for inter partes proceedings to 6 months so as to address patent disputes more swiftly.