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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Mai 01, 2023 (Newsletter Issue 5/23)
South Korea
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Partial Rejection and Re-Examination System Effective

On February 4, 2023, the amendments to the Korean Trademark Act promulgated on February 3, 2022 finally took effect.

Partial rejections and a re-examination are now possible. These amendments are expected to make the registration process more convenient for applicants and to enhance their chances of properly securing their rights.

New Partial Rejection System
Prior to the amendment, if any designated goods of an application were preliminarily rejected by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the applicant was required to overcome each and every rejection ground, or else KIPO would issue a final rejection of the entire application, even if not all of the designated goods were originally rejected. The only ways to get such non-rejected goods allowed were either to appeal to the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPTAB) to limit the application, or to file a new application designating only the non-rejected goods.

Under the amended Trademark Act, however, KIPO will issue a final rejection only as to the specific goods that have been rejected, such that the remaining goods can simply be registered by the applicant without need for further proceedings.

Establishment of a Re-Examination System
Under the newly established re-examination system, where KIPO issues a final rejection, if the rejection grounds can be overcome simply by amending the designated goods, the applicant is now permitted to submit such an amendment together with a request for re-examination to KIPO, instead of having to go through a trial proceeding at the IPTAB.

A request for re-examination may be filed before the deadline to appeal the final rejection to the IPTAB (i.e., within 3 months from the date of receipt of the Notice of Final Rejection), and if the re-examination request is filed, the final rejection will be deemed revoked. A re-examination request may only be submitted once per application, and no re-examination may be requested once an IPTAB appeal has been filed. In addition, this system does not apply to applications filed under the Madrid Protocol.