Third parties can now request expedited examination of trademark applications

The Korean Intellectual Property Office has amended its Regulation regarding Requests for Expedited Examination of Trademark Applications. The amendment became effective as of July 1 2011.
 
Previously, it was only possible for the applicant to request expedited examination of a trademark application based on the following grounds:
  • The applicant was using or had concrete plans to use the mark in connection with all of the goods and/or services covered by the pending application; or
  • A third party was using an identical or similar mark in connection with identical or similar goods without any justifiable reason. In this case, the applicant had to send a warning letter to the third party.
A successful petitioner in a cancellation action on the grounds of non-use could also request expedited examination of a trademark application filed within the six-month priority period given to it as the successful petitioner.
 
Where expedited examination is requested, the applicant can obtain a trademark registration within six months of the filing date; in normal circumstances, it takes approximately one year to obtain a trademark registration.
 
Under the amended regulation, in addition to the applicant, a third party can also request expedited examination of a trademark application where the third party has received a warning letter from the applicant that it is using a mark that is identical or similar to the pending trademark application in connection with identical or similar goods. The reason behind the amendment is to provide third parties with an opportunity to resolve trademark disputes when they have received a warning letter from the applicant.  
 
Jason J Lee, Kim & Chang, Seoul

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