On September 1, 2015, the two offices will launch their Collaborative Search Program (CSP) -

In 2010, a Korean manufacturer of automobile bumpers filed patent applications for a multi-purpose bumper in both country A and country B. In 2011, the manufacturer successfully received a patent in country A, but their application to country B was rejected due to similar technology already existing there. The manufacturer was then surprised and dismayed to learn that, because of country B’s findings, they faced the possibility that their patent in country A would be rescinded.

As part of an effort to curtail such confusion, KIPO and the USPTO have planned to launch their Collaborative Search Program (CSP) on September 1, 2015.

The CSP, which was first proposed by KIPO in 2013, is available upon request to applicants who have filed identical patent applications in both Korea and the US. Its purpose is to expedite each office’s patent examination process through the sharing of prior art search results, which are a vital factor for determining the patentability of inventions. 

Sharing prior art search results prior to examination also leads to the increased reliability of patent rights, and accelerated examinations ensure that applicants can acquire their patents as quickly as possible.

As an added benefit, applicants who request the CSP can save up to USD 4,000 off the normal price of accelerated examinations at the USPTO.

Expectations for the CSP are high, as the US is the world’s largest patent market and Korean companies are frequently engaged in IP disputes there. 

* Number of international patent disputes involving Korean firms between 2007 and 2012: 709 in the US; 152 in Japan; 65 in Germany; 45 in Taiwan; 23 in Sweden; 18 in the UK; 15 in Canada (source: KIPO statistics)

Director General Jang Wanho of KIPO’s Patent Examination Policy Bureau stated that KIPO has been undertaking comprehensive measures to improve patent quality, and among these efforts is the CSP, which aims to grant strong patents that cannot be easily challenged overseas. He added that KIPO is working to expand the CSP to regions where Korean firms are most likely to benefit from it—regions such as China, Japan, and Europe.