Enhancing IPR protection against counterfeits

In September 2010, KIPO launched the Special Investigation Police for Trademark (SIP) as a way of enhancing law enforcement on counterfeits, and we established offices in the cities of Seoul, Busan, and Daejeon

In 2016, SIP criminally arraigned 351 suspects found producing and/or selling counterfeit goods, with a total of 584,094 counterfeit goods being seized.

Due to the boom in e-commerce, online transactions of counterfeit goods have been rapidly increasing. To efficiently tackle this issue, in November 2011, we established an online law enforcement task force equipped with digital forensic equipment to firmly regulate online transactions of counterfeits. We arrest sellers of online counterfeit goods and block and/or shut down offensive websites.

In addition, we actively reinforce investigations into those counterfeit goods that have a great impact on people's lives, such as the large-scale illegal manufacturing and distribution of counterfeits related to health and safety.

Increasing the public's awareness on IPR protection

KIPO conducted a series of public awareness activities to enhance IPR protection and consumer awareness of the illegality of counterfeit goods. KIPO, in collaboration with leading universities in the IP field, along with conduction street campaigns, educated the public about the illegality of counterfeit goods, methods of harm prevention from false indications and comparisons between genuine and fake products.

Also, KIPO intensified promotions through sites, blogs and SNS to catalyze public opinion and establish a culture that respects IP and its protection, KIPO carried out competitions to eradicate IP technology theft, prevent purchases of counterfeits and false indications. A total of 144 items were submitted, and among them, 28 were prized and such prized items were used as part of public advertisements. And, KIPO developed teaching materials about IPR protection from 2014 to 2016, and subsequently, disseminated them to elementary, middle and high school students.

< Law Enforcement Results >
Category 2010(Sep-Dec) 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
Criminal
arrests
Number of
individuals
45 139 302 376 430 340 351 1,983
Number of
seized goods
28,629 28,589 131,599 822,360 1,114,192 1,192,988 584,094 3,902,451

Improvements to IPR protection laws and systems

KIPO has worked on amendments for the compensation system of infringements against IPRs since the second half of 2013. The 2016 Patent Act amendment reflects this and are demonstrated in the following change of contents:

first. If an appraisal is ordered to assess the amount of damages in an action against infringement of a patent, the parties in the lawsuit are responsible for explaining for explaining the case details to the appraiser;

second. The evidence to be presented may include not only documents, but also other reference materials. The purpose of submission of reference materials should be proof of a patent infringement; and

third. In the case where a party is unable to follow the court's order to submit reference material, and is unable to provide other evidence, it is recognized as that party admitting to the other party's claims as being true.

Through these amendments, we expect a more just compensation system which will contribute significantly to fostering a sound IP ecosystem.

Improved systems to protect corporate trade secrets

In June of 2012, we established the Trade Secret Protection Center (http://www.tradesecret.or.kr), a specialized and exclusive organization that provides useful information for protecting corporate trade secrets.

We produced a series of TV commercials to raise awareness and publicize the severity of trade secret leakage. We also provided field training for improved understanding of the trade secret protection system.

To alleviate the difficulty of authenticating trade secret ownership during infringement litigation, we also introduced, in November of 2010, the Trade Secret Certification Service, which received a total of 167,293 cases by the end of July 2021. This service operates by taking the hash values from trade secret e-documents and combining them with authorized time values from trusted third-parties, thereby creating time stamps. Time stamps are then registered with the Korea Institute of Patent Information (KIPI) to prove the existence of original copies of trade secrets, as well as their initial dates of possession.

In addition, we developed a standard management system to provide low-cost management with minimal staff requirements for companies struggling to effectively manage their trade secrets.

Reward system for reporting counterfeit goods

Since 2006, we have implemented a reward system to encourage the reporting of counterfeit goods and their distribution, as well as to raise public awareness of the harmful effects of counterfeits.

The manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of counterfeits are all subject to reporting. Citizens are required to identify themselves when reporting illegal activities, thereby ensuring reliability and cutting down on false reports. In 2013, an amount of KRW 84 million was awarded in a total of 101 cases. Wholesale and retail distribution accounted for the largest number of cases at 55 with an amount of KRW 38 million awarded.

There have been 1,144 cases submitted during the 8 years since the system was first introduced in 2006, with a total of KRW 1.69 billion awarded. The seized counterfeit goods were valued at KRW 2.84 trillion when matched to the retail prices of the genuine articles.

By encouraging individuals to voluntarily report counterfeiting activities, we have paved the way for a wider public understanding of the harmful effects of counterfeits.

IP-DESK

KIPO operates IP-DESKs to protect and further promote IPRs to Korean companies doing business overseas. Recently, additional IP-DESKx were added in areas where Korean companies are frequently embroiled in IPR disputes. In 2014, we set up an IP-DESK in Frankfurt, Germany and an IP-DESK in Tokyo, Japan was then added in 2015. In 2016, we set up an IP-DESK in Xi'an, China, which is an economic hub of western China. In 2017, we added an IP-DESK in Jacarta, Indonesia, and an IP-DESK in New Delhi, India. Then we set up a new IP-DESK In Hongkong in 2019. Subsequently, an IP-DESK was be opened in Manila, Philippines in 2020. Recently, in 2021, additional IP-DESKs were added in Moscow, Russia, and Mexico City, Mexico. As of June 2021, we were operating a total of 17 IP-DESKs in 11 countries.

IP-DESKs provide Korean companies, whether active in or preparing to enter foreign markets, with consultations on registering and protection IPRs and resolving IPR disputes. In addition, we hold seminars to share information on how to prevent infringements.

KIPO also held seminars to help IPR-related government officials of China, Thailand, and Vietnam to enhance their capabilities of enforcing protection against counterfeit goods. And we are making efforts to develop cooperative channels with foreign IPR related organizations in order to protect the IPRs of Korean companies operation overseas.

Korea's IP-DESKs around the world

Korea's IP-DESKs around the world
  • Last updated 17 August 2021
  • Intellectual Property Protection Policy Division
    Intellectual Property Protection Support Division
    Technology & Design Police Division
    Trademark Police Divison