Region: South Korea

Batch examination now available for IP applications

KIPO has announced that batch examination is now available for all types of IP applications. Batch examination allows an applicant to pool together multiple IP applications related to a common product into one examination basket to be processed according to the applicant's designated timeline. Batch examination will streamline the examination process, while making it faster and more consistent.

01 October 2014

'Spa' held to have lost distinctiveness in Korean cosmetic industry

The Supreme Court has confirmed a decision of the Patent Court in which the latter had held that the term ‘spa’ is no longer distinctive for cosmetics in Korea, and has not been distinctive since at least 2012. The decision is significant because the Supreme Court had recognised in 2003 that the term ‘spa’ was distinctive in the Korean cosmetic industry in around 1999.

24 September 2014

Amendments to Trademark Act take effect

Amendments to the Korean Trademark Act, which apply to marks filed from June 11 2014, have introduced important changes. Among other things, it is now easier to prove that a mark has acquired secondary meaning, and the registration of a mark that may dilute the distinctiveness and/or reputation of a famous mark is not permitted.

19 September 2014

Bad-faith registrations similar to well-known marks must be invalidated in entirety

The Supreme Court has overturned two decisions of the Patent Court in which the latter had only partially invalidated bad-faith registrations that were similar to well-known marks. The Supreme Court held that a bad-faith registration that is similar to a well-known mark should be invalidated in its entirety, even if some of the designated goods/services are not economically linked to the goods/services sold under the well-known mark.

01 July 2014

Changes to Trademark Examination Guideline introduced

Changes to the Trademark Examination Guideline, which is used by KIPO examiners when reviewing trademark applications, have recently come into effect. Among other things, the revised guideline simplifies the standard for proving that a mark has acquired secondary meaning, and specifically prevents the registration of marks that incorporate words or names made famous by or through the media, including the Internet.

28 April 2014

Supreme Court decision provides new tool against trademark infringers

The Supreme Court has recognised for the first time the existence of a presumption of negligence on the part of infringers in cases of trademark infringement, thereby making it easier for plaintiffs to recover damages for infringement. Among other things, the court held that trademark registrations are public and that knowledge thereof is available to any person exercising ordinary care.

23 April 2014

KIPO proposes significant amendments to Trademark Act

KIPO has proposed a number of significant changes to the Trademark Act. Among other things, the proposed amendments would permit KIPO to accept letters of consent from a senior registrant so that a junior trademark applicant can obtain a registration for an existing mark. KIPO hopes that, if passed by the National Assembly, the proposed amendments will take effect on July 1 2015.

17 March 2014

Supreme Court decision represents significant defeat for cybersquatters

In a case involving the domain name ‘’, the Supreme Court has confirmed that the lack of fame of a trademark in Korea could no longer be used as an excuse by cybersquatters in cases involving top-level domain names. The case shows that the fame of the mark abroad may be sufficient, especially if the registrant’s bad faith can clearly be established.

04 March 2014

Supreme Court reverses its position on dual-language trademarks

In a case involving the bilingual mark CONTINENTAL (with its Korean transliteration), the Supreme Court has reversed a long-held position, holding that the use of only the English portion (or equally, only the Korean transliteration portion) of a registered English-Korean combination mark constituted use of the mark as registered.

12 December 2013

KIPO issues new plan for improving quality of examinations

The Korean Intellectual Property Office has announced a plan for improving the quality of trademark and design examinations, in order to support the marketing efforts of businesses and enhance the competitiveness of companies through innovative brand and design creation. Among other things, KIPO plans to ease its strict examination standards regarding the distinctiveness of trademarks.

29 October 2013

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