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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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03-29-2018 (Newsletter Issue 6/18)
South Korea
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Design Examination Guidelines Amended


The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) recently amended its design examination guidelines, effective January 1, 2018. The most noteworthy amendments are summarized below.

1. Expanding the Scope of Integrity of Partial Designs
If two or more parts which are physically separated in one partial design application are expressed, they are generally rejected as a violation of the "one design - one application" rule. However, if their creative integrity is recognized, the design application can be registered as one design. According to the amended guidelines, the intention of the creator is also considered when determining whether or not the parts physically separated in one partial design application constitute one design. Further, a design will be considered to have configurational integrity if the parts have relevance in being recognized as a single creative unit, and to have functional integrity if the parts have relevance in carrying out the same function.

2. "Fourth Industrial Revolution" Design Applications Are Now Allowed Expedited Examination
The examination of design applications generally takes around 7~9 months from the application filing date. An applicant can shorten the examination period by requesting expedited examination, which if granted takes around 2~4 months. However, expedited examination is only allowed in certain circumstances set forth in the Design Protection Act Enforcement Decree. Design applications directly related to the "fourth industrial revolution," such as artificial intelligence or Internet of Things, have been added as a subject for priority examination in the Design Protection Act Enforcement Decree, and the design examination guidelines have been amended accordingly.

3. Unclaimed Design Elements Must Be Registrable Even For Partial Designs
The amended guidelines now specify that when determining if a design is unregistrable, the unclaimed parts as well as the claimed parts of a partial design should be taken into account, and reference drawings should be considered. Thus, even if only otherwise-registrable portions of a design are being claimed as a partial design, if unclaimed portions are unregistrable (e.g., for offending public morals), the partial design cannot be registered.


Source: www.kimchang.com