In mid-January, the Korean IP Office hosted a presentation about trademark & design policies and trends for 2020. Among the topics presented were filing statistics and the issue of application pendency, with the trademark/design examination timeframes for recent years and predicted timeframes for 2020 being shared.

Trademark

The below table shows the number of trademark applications filed in Korea for the years 2015-2019, plus a projection for 2020. “Domestic Applications” refers to national applications filed directly with the Korean IP Office, and “International Applications” refers to international (Madrid) applications designating South Korea. The “Examination” columns are the average time taken between filing and first official action.

 

The below table shows the number of design applications filed in Korea for the years 2015-2019, plus a projection for 2020. “Domestic Applications” refers to national applications filed directly with the Korean IP Office, and “International Applications” refers to international (Hague) applications designating South Korea. The “Examination” columns are the average time taken between filing and first official action.

There are two examination tracks for design applications in Korea: (i) full examination, and (ii) partial examination, with the track based on the Locarno class of the design.

Designs sensitive to trends or which have a short life-cycle, specifically designs which fall under Locarno classes 2 (clothing and haberdashery), 5 (textile piecegoods, artificial and natural sheet material) or 19 (stationery and office equipment, artists’ and teaching materials) are subject to partial examination. This comprises a formality check and limited industrial applicability/novelty requirements. Designs in all other classes are subject to full, substantive examination.

In 2019, the examination pendency for partial design applications was approximately 60 days. In order to better serve applicants and allow for faster protection of designs which may have a very short lifecycle, KIPO intends to reduce this time to 10 days in 2020. This will be achieved by shortening internal administrative procedures and also recruiting new specialist examiners. As shown above, this contrasts with the 6 months for full examination design applications and 10 months for international designs predicted for this year.