Misleading patent numbers on the boxes of some products have occasionally resulted in customer confusion. Imagine, for example, you bought an appliance that sported a label reading “Patent No. 10-○○○○-○○○○○○○.“ The notion that the product contained patented technology might increase your confidence in the purchase. However, what if you later discovered that the company you bought the appliance from had not actually acquired the patent yet? Perhaps what you thought was a patent registration number was, in reality, nothing more than the application number that the company received upon submitting its patent request. Application numbers look virtually identical to registration numbers, apart from having fewer digits. 

On July 29th, KIPO implemented its revised enforcement rules of the Patent Act. These rules require that products undergoing the examination phase of the patenting process be marked “under examination.” This will help prevent consumers from becoming confused or misled as to whether the product has truly been patented. 

KIPO’s revisions to the enforcement rules of the Patent Act also allow applicants to claim a grace period* at any time prior to the patent being registered. Previously, an applicant could only claim a grace period at the time of filing his/her patent application, resulting in cases where premature disclosure of an applicant’s invention led to his or her patent application being rejected due to the grace period having accidentally gone unclaimed. 

KIPO also allows applicants to file divisional applications** once the registration decision has been made, thereby enabling applicants to better patent their inventions according to market circumstances and their own convenience. 

Director General Jang Wanho of KIPO’s Patent Examination Policy Bureau stated that the revised enforcement rules will help prevent companies from misleading those members of the public who lack experience with the patent system. He went on to say that the rules add flexibility to the patent system by providing applicants with greater leeway throughout the patent application process.