Design Protection Act amended

On June 9 2009 an amendment to the Design Protection Act was announced, effective from July 1 2009.

Under the old Design Protection Act, if the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) issued a decision rejecting the registration of a design, the applicant had 30 days from receipt of a certified copy of the decision to file an appeal to the IP Tribunal.

To give applicants further opportunities to register their designs, the act has adopted a re-examination procedure, which enables an applicant that has received a rejection due to the drawings in its application to file a request for re-examination. An applicant may now try to obtain registration by amending its drawings and filing a request for re-examination, without having to file an appeal to the IP Tribunal.

This re-examination procedure is available only for design applications filed after July 1 2009.

Moreover, under the old law, KIPO permitted the late payment of registration fees, but an amount equivalent to twice the registration fees had to be paid, regardless of how late the payment was made. The amendment now allows registrants to pay late fees on a sliding scale, depending on the number of days that they are overdue. Such late fees are calculated as follows:
  • If payment is made within one month of the deadline, an amount equal to 120% of the registration fees must be paid;
  • If payment is made within three months of the deadline, an amount equal to 130% of the registration fees must be paid; and
  • If payment is made within six months of the deadline, an amount equal to 150% of the registration fees must be paid.
Finally, under the old Design Protection Act, any current or former KIPO or IP Tribunal official who divulged secrets relating to a design application was liable to imprisonment with labour for up to two years or a fine of up to W3 million. To reinforce the protection of design secrets, the amendment has increased the imprisonment term to no more than five years and the fine to no more than W5 million.

Sung-Nam Kim and Nayoung Kim, Kim & Chang, Seoul

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