Amendments extend protection to computer graphics

South Korea

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has announced a sharp rise in the number of registrations for image designs since amendments to the Design Act came into force. As registrations are granted on a first come, first served basis, prospective applicants are advised to file their applications as soon as possible in order to secure proper protection for their image designs.

The amendments relax the standard for design protection. Graphic designs, including various screen icons that were previously excluded from the scope of the act, are now protected under the Design Act provided that they are properly registered.

The following are examples of designs that are now afforded protection:

  • graphic user interfaces, including those used on websites, software programs, mobile phones and info-electronics;

  • icons, including application, user-interface and tool icons; and

  • graphic images, including screen savers, characters, emoticons, 3D animation and function/status labels.

Once the particular image design is registered at the KIPO, the holder of the design right has the exclusive right to use it for business purposes for 15 years.

Further amendments to the act that would extend protection to character fonts are expected in the near future.

Kyung-Han Sohn, Aram International Law Offices, Seoul

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