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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Mai 18, 2016 (Newsletter Issue 9/16)
South Korea
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Trademark Act Amended


The Korean Trademark Act has been amended, effective from September 1, 2016. The main changes relate to non-use cancelations and unregistrable trademarks.

- Non-Use Cancelation Trials:
Under the current Korean Trademark Act, only an interested party can file a non-use cancelation action. However, under the amended Korean Trademark Act, any person will be allowed to do this.

Under the current Act, an unused trademark right is extinguished from the date the non-use cancelation trial decision becomes final and conclusive (i.e., there is no retroactive effectiveness). However, under the amended Act, an unused trademark right shall be extinguished from the date the non-use cancelation action was filed with the Trial Board, which means there will be retroactive effectiveness.

- Unregistrable Trademarks:
Under the current Korean Trademark Act, whether a trademark application is confusingly similar to another person’s prior registered mark is determined on the basis of the date when the junior trademark application was filed. However, under the amended Korean Trademark Act, it shall be determined on the basis of the date when the junior trademark application is examined. This means that if the cited prior registration has been invalidated, canceled, abandoned, or assigned to the junior applicant, it will no longer be an obstacle.

Under the current Korean Trademark Act, an identical or similar trademark application should be filed, in principle, one year after another person’s prior registered mark has been extinguished. However, under the amended Korean Trademark Act, this requirement has been removed.

Source: INTA Bulletin, May 15, 2016, Vol. 71, No. 9
Contributor: Markkorea Patent and Law Firm, South Korea
Verifier: DK Choi & Partners, South Korea