Republic of Korea

Understanding the Patent Act of the Republic of Korea


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1 PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT ································ 3

. Patents ··················································································································· 3

  1. Subjective requirements ····················································································· 3
  2. Objective requirements ······················································································· 3
  3. Procedural requirements ····················································································· 4

. Utility model right ······························································································· 5

  1. Consistency to Patent Act ················································································· 5
  2. Difference to Patent Act ··················································································· 5

CHAPTER 2 INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS ····················································· 9 SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS ·························································· 9

. Goals of the patent system ················································································ 9

  1. Meaning ··············································································································· 9
  2. Protection for invention ····················································································· 9
  3. Inventive application ·························································································· 9

. Development of patents ···················································································· 10

  1. Introduction of patents ····················································································· 10
  2. Enactment and amendment of the Patent Act ·············································· 11
  3. Reform of the patent litigation system ························································· 13

4. Basic principles of the Patent Act in Korea ················································ 14 SECTION 2 INTRODUCTION TO PROCEDURE FOR THE PATENT ACT ··· 15

. Competency ········································································································ 15

  1. Capacity ············································································································· 15
  2. Legal capacity ··································································································· 17

. Power of attorney ······························································································ 18

  1. Meaning ············································································································· 18
  2. Types and rights of power of attorney ························································· 19
  3. Certification of power of attorney ································································· 21
  4. Nondistinguishment of power of attorney ···················································· 22
  5. Principle of individual agent ·········································································· 22
  6. Replacement of power of attorney, etc ························································· 23
  7. Common representative ···················································································· 23
  8. Venue of nonresident nationals ······································································· 24

. Period ·················································································································· 25

  1. Meaning ············································································································· 25
  2. Types of period ································································································ 25
  3. Calculating method for period ········································································ 25
  4. Extension of period ························································································· 26
.
Introduction to the procedure ··········································································· 28
  1. The effects of the procedure ·········································································· 28
  2. Invalidity of the procedure ············································································· 29
  3. Subsequent completion of the procedure ······················································ 31
  4. Suspension of the procedure ··········································································· 32
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Publication ·········································································································· 35
  1. Meaning ············································································································· 35
  2. Publication for public notification of registration ········································ 35
  3. PreGrant Publication ······················································································· 36
  4. Effect disclosed in the PreGrant Publication ··············································· 36

CHAPTER 3 PATENTS INVENTION ···································································· 41 SECTION 1 PATENTABLE INVENTION ································································ 41

. Meaning ·············································································································· 41

. Requirements for an invention ········································································· 41

  1. Utilization of the law of nature ····································································· 41
  2. Technical idea ··································································································· 43
  3. Skillfulness of creation ···················································································· 43
  4. Relation between invention and discovery ···················································· 44

. Types of invention ····························································································· 44

  1. Categories of invention ··················································································· 44
  2. Invention of material ······················································································· 45
    1. Invention of a method ····················································································· 45 SECTION 2 REQUIREMENTS FOR PATENTABILITY ········································ 45
    2. . Industrial applicability ······················································································· 45
      1. Meaning ············································································································· 45
      2. Scope of industry ····························································································· 45
      3. Applicability ······································································································ 46
      4. Medical service ································································································· 46
    3. . Novelty of invention ························································································· 48
      1. Meaning ············································································································· 48
      2. Criteria for time and place in deciding novelty ·········································· 48
      3. Cause of losing novelty ·················································································· 49
      4. Determining novelty ························································································· 53
    4. . Inventive step of invention ··············································································· 55
      1. Meaning ············································································································· 55
      2. Relevant provisions ·························································································· 56
      3. Theories on determination of inventive step ················································ 56
      4. Method of determining inventive step ··························································· 57
      5. Type of inventive step determination ···························································· 59
      6. Nonpublicly known invention ········································································ 62
    5. . Identicalness of invention ················································································· 63
    6. 1. Expanded firsttofile application ···································································· 64
  1. Prior application ······························································································· 66 SECTION 3 PATENTABLE SUBJECT MATTER ··················································· 69

. Patentable subject matter ·················································································· 69

  1. Nature of right to obtain patent ···································································· 69
  2. Content of right to obtain a patent ······························································· 70

. Holder of Right ································································································· 72

  1. Inventor ············································································································· 72
  2. Joint inventor ···································································································· 72
  3. Successor ··········································································································· 73
  4. Prior applicant ·································································································· 73
  5. Legitimate holder of right ··············································································· 73

CHAPTER 4 PATENT APPLICATION ·································································· 77 SECTION 1 PROCEDURE OF PATENT APPLICATION ····································· 77

. Meaning ·············································································································· 77

. General principles for patent application ························································ 77

  1. Writing requirement ························································································· 77
  2. Use of Korean mandated ················································································ 78
  3. Formalism ·········································································································· 78

. Types of Application Form for Patents ·························································· 78

  1. Application Form for Patents ········································································· 78
  2. Specifications ···································································································· 79
  3. Drawing ············································································································· 81
  4. Abstract ············································································································· 82
  5. Patent application procedure ··········································································· 85
.
Claim of Patent ·································································································· 86
  1. Meaning ············································································································· 86
  2. Function of Claim of Patent ·········································································· 86
  3. Make up of Claim of Patent ········································································· 87
V.
Singularity of Invention ······················································································ 90
  1. Meaning ············································································································· 90
  2. Invention of Group ·························································································· 90
  3. Requirements for Application #1 ··································································· 91
  4. Legal Effect for Breach ·················································································· 91

VI. Withdrawal and abandonment of application ················································· 91 SECTION 2 AMENDMENT OF APPLICATION ··················································· 92

. Amendment system ···························································································· 92

  1. Meaning ············································································································· 92
  2. Types of amendment ························································································ 92

. Object of amendment ························································································ 93

  1. Procedural amendment ····················································································· 93
  2. Substantive amendment ···················································································· 93

. Procedure of amendment ·················································································· 96

.
Effect of amendment ························································································· 96
  1. Lawful amendment ··························································································· 96
  2. Unlawful amendment ······················································································· 96
V.
Dismissal of amendment ····················································································· 98
  1. Meaning ············································································································· 98
  2. Object of amendment dismissal ····································································· 98
  3. Cause of dismissal of amendment ································································· 99

4. Appeal to dismissal of amendment ······························································· 99 SECTION 3 DIVISIONAL & CONVERSION APPLICATION ··························· 100

. Divisional application ······················································································ 100

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 100
  2. Requirements for lawful divisional application ·········································· 100
  3. Procedure of divisional application ······························································ 101
  4. Effect of divisional application ···································································· 101

. Conversion application ···················································································· 102

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 102
  2. Requirements for lawful conversion application ········································· 103
  3. Procedure of conversion application ···························································· 104
  4. Effect of conversion application ··································································· 104
  5. Relations between original application and conversion application ········· 105

SECTION 4 PRIORITY ···························································································· 105

. Meaning ············································································································ 105

. Priority based on treaty ·················································································· 105

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 105
  2. Requirements for priority claim ··································································· 106
  3. Procedure of priority claim ··········································································· 107
  4. Effect of priority claim ················································································· 108
  5. Determination of priority claim ···································································· 109

. Domestic priority ····························································································· 109

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 109
  2. Requirements for domestic priority claim ··················································· 110
  3. Procedure of priority claim ··········································································· 110
  4. Withdrawal of prior application ···································································· 111
  5. Effect of priority claim ················································································· 112

CHAPTER 5 PATENT EXAMINATION ······························································ 115 SECTION 1 REGIMES OF EXAMINATION ························································ 115

. Examination regime and nonexamination regime ········································ 115

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 115
  2. Comparison between examination regime and nonexamination regime ·· 115
  3. Neoexamination regime ················································································· 116
  4. Classification of examination ········································································ 116

. Publication of application ··············································································· 117

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 117
  2. Time for publication of application ····························································· 118
  3. Legal effect of publication of application ··················································· 118
  4. Early publication of application by request ················································ 119

. Request for examination of application ························································ 120

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 120
  2. Content ············································································································ 120
  3. Legal effect of examination request ···························································· 121
.
Examination per claim ···················································································· 122
  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 122
  2. Content ············································································································ 122
.
Preferred examination ······················································································ 122
  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 122
  2. Content ············································································································ 123
  3. Legal effect of preferred examination decision ·········································· 125

SECTION 2 EXAMINATION OF APPLICATION ··············································· 125

. Examination ······································································································ 125

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 125
  2. Qualification of examiner ·············································································· 126
  3. Exclusion of examiner ··················································································· 126
  4. Procedure for substantive examination ························································ 127

CHAPTER 6 PATENT RIGHT ··············································································· 131 SECTION 1 CREATION OF PATENT RIGHT ····················································· 131

  1. Registration of patent right ··········································································· 131
  2. Issuing of patent registration certificate ···················································· 131
    1. Items to enter in the patent register process ············································· 131 SECTION 2 EFFECT OF PATENT RIGHT ·························································· 132
    2. . Meaning ············································································································ 132
    3. . Scope of effect ································································································· 132
      1. Scope in place ································································································ 132
      2. Scope in time ································································································· 132
      3. Scope of protection ························································································ 132
    4. . Content of effect ······························································································ 133
      1. ‘Commercially and industrially’ ··································································· 133
      2. ‘Patented invention’ ····················································································· 133
      3. ‘Using’ ············································································································· 133
      4. ‘Monopoly’ ······································································································ 134
    5. . Restriction on effect ························································································ 134
      1. Meaning ······································································································· 134
      2. Restriction from limitation of right ····························································· 135
    1. Restriction caused by relationship with others ··········································· 136 SECTION 3 ASSIGNMENT AND JOINTOWNERSHIP OF PATENT RIGHT ·· 136
    2. . Assignment of patent right ············································································· 136
    3. . Joint ownership of patent right ······································································ 137
      1. Working of jointly owned invention ···························································· 137
      2. Restriction on assignment ············································································· 137
      3. Restriction on licensing ················································································· 137
  1. Other ················································································································ 137 SECTION 4 TERM OF PATENT RIGHT ····························································· 137

. Meaning ············································································································ 137

. Term of a patent right ···················································································· 138

  1. Term ··············································································································· 138
  2. Calculation of term ························································································ 138

. Extension of the term of a patent right ······················································· 138

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 138
  2. Object of application for extended registration ·········································· 138
  3. Extended term ································································································· 138
  4. Application of extended registration ···························································· 139
  5. Examination of application for extending period of registration ··········· 139
  6. Registration of extension and its effect ······················································ 140
    1. Invalidation trial of registration of extension ··········································· 140 SECTION 5 EXTINGUISHMENT OF PATENT RIGHT ····································· 140
    2. . Meaning ·········································································································· 140
    3. . Cause of extinguishment of patent right ······················································ 140
      1. Abandonment of patent right ········································································ 140
      2. Cancellation of patent right ·········································································· 140
      3. Invalidation of patent right ··········································································· 141
      4. Nonpayment of patent fee ··········································································· 141
      5. Non existence of heir ···················································································· 141
  1. Expiration of term of a patent right ··························································· 141 SECTION 6 LICENSE ······························································································ 142

. License ·············································································································· 142

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 142
  2. Scope of license ····························································································· 142
  3. Types of license ····························································································· 143

. Exclusive license ······························································································ 143

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 143
  2. Creation of exclusive license ········································································ 144
  3. Content of exclusive license ········································································· 144
  4. Relationship between patentee and exclusive licensee ······························ 145
  5. Extinguishment of exclusive license ···························································· 145

. Nonexclusive license ······················································································· 145

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 145
  2. Nonexclusive license by consent ································································· 146
  3. Statutory license ··························································································· 146
  4. Forced license ································································································· 148

SECTION 7 REGISTRATION ·················································································· 150

. Meaning ············································································································ 150

. Effect of registration ······················································································· 151

  1. Create a right ······························································································· 151
  2. Effect a change in right ·············································································· 151
  3. Effect against a third party ·········································································· 151

. Publication of registration ··············································································· 151

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 151
  2. Object ············································································································ 152
  3. Effect ············································································································· 152

CHAPTER 7 IPT’S PATENT TRIAL ··································································· 155 SECTION 1 IPT TRIAL SYSTEM ········································································· 155

. Meaning ············································································································ 155

. Nature of patent trial ······················································································ 155

. Industrial Property Tribunal ············································································ 155

  1. Composition ···································································································· 155
  2. Classification of IPT trial ············································································· 156
    1. Relationship with Patent Court ····································································· 156 SECTION 2 PROCEDURE OF PATENT TRIAL ················································· 157
    2. . Request for trial ······························································································· 157
      1. Mandatory items of the request ··································································· 157
      2. Amendment of request; Gist of request ······················································ 158
      3. Mandatory written attachment to the request ··········································· 159
    3. . Party ·················································································································· 160
      1. Capacity to be a party ·················································································· 160
      2. Qualification of a party ················································································· 160
      3. Request for IPT trial and interest ······························································ 161
      4. Joint IPT trial ······························································································· 161
      5. Correction of party ························································································ 162
    4. . Trial examination ··························································································· 162
      1. Meaning ··········································································································· 162
      2. Trial examination of formality and lawfulness ··········································· 162
      3. Method ··········································································································· 163
      4. Principle ··········································································································· 163
        1. IPT decision ····································································································· 165
          1. Meaning ··········································································································· 165
          2. Items to be included in IPT decision ························································· 165
          3. Conclusion of IPT decision ········································································ 165
          4. Reasoning of IPT decision ········································································· 166
          5. Effect ············································································································· 167
          6. Correction of IPT decision ··········································································· 169
        1. Withdrawal of request for IPT trial ···························································· 170
          1. Meaning ··········································································································· 170
          2. Requirements ··································································································· 170
          3. Method ··········································································································· 170
  1. Effect ············································································································· 170 SECTION 3 TYPES OF IPT TRIAL ····································································· 171

. IPT Trial on appeal to patent rejection, etc. ············································· 171

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 171
  2. Request period ······························································································ 171
  3. Items to be included in the request ·························································· 171
  4. Procedure ······································································································· 172
  5. Types of IPT decision ··················································································· 172

. Reexamination of amended application ························································ 173

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 173
  2. Object ·············································································································· 173
  3. Procedure ······································································································· 173

. IPT trial to invalidate patent ·········································································· 174

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 174
  2. Grounds ········································································································· 175
  3. Party ················································································································· 175
  4. Time of request ······························································································ 176
  5. Effect of invalidation ····················································································· 176
  6. Request for correction of patent ·································································· 176
.
IPT trial to invalidate registration for patent term extension ···················· 177
  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 177
  2. Grounds ··········································································································· 177
  3. Party ················································································································· 177
  4. Time to request ······························································································ 177
  5. Object ·············································································································· 177
  6. Effect of invalidation ····················································································· 178
.
IPT trial to confirm the scope of a patent right ········································ 178
  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 178
  2. Classification ··································································································· 178
  3. Party ················································································································· 179
  4. Time to request ······························································································ 179
  5. Procedure ········································································································· 179
  6. Specifying target invention ············································································ 179
  7. Effect ············································································································· 180
  8. Relationship between positive trial to confirm the scope of a patent right and a third invention ········································································· 180
  9. Relationship between trial to confirm the scope of a patent right and patentability requirement ················································································ 181
  10. Cases ·············································································································· 181

. IPT trial to correct ·························································································· 184

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 184
  2. Petitioner ········································································································· 184
  3. Time to request ······························································································ 184
  4. Scope of correction ······················································································ 184
  5. Request ·········································································································· 186
  6. Procedure of trial examination ····································································· 186
  7. Trial to correct in multiclaim system ························································· 187
  8. Effect ············································································································· 187

. IPT trial to invalidate correction ··································································· 188

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 188
  2. Party ················································································································· 188
  3. Time to request ···························································································· 188
  4. Grounds ··········································································································· 188
  5. Request for correction in a trial to invalidate correction ························· 189
  6. Effect ············································································································· 189

. Trial to grant nonexclusive license ···························································· 189

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 189
  2. Requirements ··································································································· 189
  3. Party ················································································································· 190
  4. Time to request ······························································································ 190
  5. Request ············································································································ 190
  6. Effect of final IPT decision ······································································· 190

CHAPTER 8 PATENT LITIGATION ···································································· 193 SECTION 1 LITIGATION ON IPT DECISION, ETC. ········································ 193

. Introduction ······································································································· 193

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 193
  2. Nature ·············································································································· 193

. Relationship to civil and administrative litigation ······································· 194

  1. Distinction from civil and administrative litigation ··································· 194
  2. Mutatis mutandis application of administrative or civil procedure ·········· 194

. Types ··············································································································· 194

  1. Action to cancel exparte IPT decision (defendant: KIPO Commissioner) ·· 194
  2. Interparte litigation where patentee or interested party is defendant ··· 194
    1. Seed Industry Actrelated litigation (Article 105 of Seed Industry Act) ···· 194 SECTION 2 PATENT COURT ················································································· 195
    2. . Jurisdiction of patent court ············································································· 195
      1. Subject matter jurisdiction ············································································· 195
      2. Territorial jurisdiction ··················································································· 195
    3. . Structure ·········································································································· 195
    4. 1. Trial divisions ································································································· 195
  1. Technical examination officer ····································································· 195 SECTION 3 FILING A LAWSUIT ········································································· 196

. Interest in lawsuit ···························································································· 196

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 196
  2. Interest in action of patent litigation ··························································· 197
  3. Time to determine interest in action ··························································· 197

. Period for filing a lawsuit ·············································································· 197

1. Peremptory period ························································································ 197

2. Court to file a lawsuit ·················································································· 198 SECTION 4 PRETRIAL PROCEDURE ································································ 198

. Meaning ············································································································ 198

. Patent litigation and pretrial procedure ························································ 198

  1. Purpose of pretrial ······················································································ 198
  2. Time to refer to pretrial ············································································ 198
  3. Commissioning an associate judge ······························································· 199
  4. Deciding between open and closed pretrial; preparation of record ········ 199
  5. Conducting pretrial ······················································································ 199
  6. Measures after conclusion of pretrial ······················································· 199

SECTION 5 TRIAL IN PATENT LITIGATION ··················································· 200

. Content of trial ································································································ 200

  1. Examination of requirements ········································································ 200
  2. Examination of merit ····················································································· 200

. Principle and procedure of trial ··································································· 200

  1. Meaning ··········································································································· 200
  2. Modified adversarial system ······································································· 200

. Argument by the parties ················································································· 201 SECTION 6 CONCLUSION OF LITIGATION; APPEAL ··································· 201

. Cause of conclusion ······················································································ 201

. Conclusion by other than judgment ······························································ 201

  1. Order to dismiss complaint or appeal ······················································· 201
  2. Withdrawal of an action or appeal ···························································· 202

. Conclusion by judgment ··············································································· 203

  1. Dismissal, etc ·································································································· 203
  2. Judgment ········································································································· 203
  3. Effect of judgment ························································································· 203

. Appeal to Supreme Court ··············································································· 203

  1. Period of appeal ··························································································· 204
  2. Court to file appeal ····················································································· 204

3. Scope of appeal ····························································································· 204 SECTION 7 PATENT ATTORNEY’S FEE AND COST OF LITIGATION ······ 204

. Meaning ············································································································ 204

. Patent attorney’s fee and cost of litigation ·················································· 205

PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT

CHAPTER 1 PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT

. Patents

The purpose of a patent is to facilitate technological development and contribute to industrial development by protecting and encouraging invention and promoting its use, and to further the development of the industry through the invention application. In this sense, the patent system might be called a protective system for new technologies, a facilitating system for inventions, or a system which guarantees exclusive use. Therefore, a patent applicant who registers with the Patent Office, thereby disclosing his or her invention, in exchange, receives the exclusive right to control how the invention is to be used.

Not all inventions are patentable. In order for inventions to be registered as patents, they must meet the requirements for patentability, which include “subjective requirements”, “objective requirements”, and “procedural requirements” as prescribed by the Patent Act.

1. Subjective requirements

A. Competent inventor

An applicant for patents shall be an “inventor” or a “legal successor” to a unique invention.

B. Legal capacity

As a legal subject of exercisable right, a “natural person” and a “legal entity” shall be deemed to have legal capacity. With regard to a foreigner’s legal capacity, his or her legal capacity shall be deemed as equal to that of a Korean citizen under the equal protection clause.

2. Objective requirements

Objective requirements refer to the requirements on the application of a patentable invention. The requirements may be divided into “positive requirements for patentability” and “negative requirements for patentability”. Positive requirements for patentability involve how the patentable invention shall be applied, while the negative requirements for patentability involve how the patentable invention shall not be applied.

A. Positive requirements for patentability

(1) “Invention”

“Invention” under the Patent Act shall mean “a highly skilled thing or art that is a technological creation of ideas using natural laws.”

PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT

(2) Industrial applicability One of the purposes of a patent system is to develop industry. “Industry” shall include, but shall not be limited to, manufacturing, farming, forestry,

stock farming, and supplementary industrial fields such as transportation service, traffic business, etc. “Medical services” shall include services that involve medical treatment and examination, but shall not include preventive medical activities to human beings as defined under the scope of “Industry” as prescribed by Patent Act due to humanitarian concerns.

(3) Novelty

Novelty requires that the invention be quantitatively “different” from a previously registered invention.

(4) Inventive step

Inventive step describes the level of creativity regarding the invention and requires that the invention be a nonobvious progression of prior Art. This requirement shall not be fulfilled if a skilled and reasonably informed person in the industry applied for an invention that serves the same purpose addressing the same issue.

B. Negative requirements for patentability

In spite of satisfying the above positive requirements for patentability, an invention that is anticipated to cause public disorder, be subject to bad moral judgment, or harm public health shall not be deemed patentable.

3. Procedural requirements

In order for an invention to be granted a patent, it shall satisfy the following provisions for patent application procedure as prescribed by the Patent Act in addition to the aforementioned subjective and objective requirements.

A. The procedure for the application shall satisfy the requirements indicated for the specific type of patent;

B. Filling in accordance to the application specifications shall satisfy the requirements under the rules of provisions;

C. The application shall satisfy the requirements under the scope of applications.

PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT

. Utility model right

Most countries incorporating an industrial property right system have placed only technological creation of ideas under protection of patent laws. But several countries, including Germany, have enacted utility model laws, aside from patent laws, protecting technological creation of ideas pursuant to dual legal systems. Accordingly, the Korean Patent Act and Utility Model Act are closely related to each other and similarly reflect laws from other legal systems.

The German utility model system was established to supplement their patent system. Before implementing its utility model system, Germany did not grant exclusive rights to reformation inventions or microinventions under its original patent system. Therefore, Germany decided to recognize, thereby protecting and encouraging, microinventions of small and medium sized businesses or individual inventors. As a result, several other countries implemented various utility model systems to supplement their respective patent systems

1. Consistency to Patent Act

The Korean Utility Model Act shares principles with the Patent Act. Like the Patent Act, the Utility Model Act aims to facilitate technological development and contribute to industrial development by protecting and encouraging the technological creation of ideas and promoting its use. They, however, differ in the level of creativeness required. The Patent Act protects highly skilled and technical designs and arts, while the Utility Model Act protects creations that are less skillful and technical in nature.

The Utility Model Act and the Patent Act share many rules and requirements including, “firsttofile” principle, drawing system, amendment and refusal of amendment system, claim of priority system, local claim of priority system, public notification of registration and opposition to the grant of registration system, compulsory license system and ruling system, rights appropriation system, rights revocation system, request for a trial system, application division system, claim of patent multinomial system, rights infringement system, and reexamination and final appeal system. The Utility Model Act also applies the penal provisions when the following criminal acts have been committed: criminal infringement, false testimony, intentional fictitious declaration, disclosure of secrets and fine for negligence imposition, etc. Accordingly, the provisions of the Patent Act shall be applied mutatis mutandis to the Utility Model Act in its major parts.

2. Difference to Patent Act

A. Objects of protection

“Invention” is classified into invention related to ‘a thing’ and invention related to ‘a method’. Further, ‘a thing’ is divided into ‘an article’, which has a certain form or style and ‘a material’, which does not have a certain form or style. The Patent Act

PATENTS AND UTILITY MODEL RIGHT

covers all inventions as ‘a thing’ and inventions as ‘a method’, whereas the Utility Model Act protects utility design related to ‘a thing’ classified as ‘an article’. ‘Materials’ such as agricultural chemicals, medicine, DNA structure, microorganism, fiber optics, and cement creation shall be protected under the Patent Act and not under the Utility Model Act.

B. Requirements for registration

Both registration for patentability of invention and registration for utility design require the fulfillment of industrial applicability, novelty, and the inventive step. Note that the Patent Act has a higher requirement for the inventive step than the Utility Model in light of the prior art.

C. Term of rights and its extension

The term for patent rights and utility model rights differ from each other. The term of rights for patents shall take effect on the registration date lasting for a twentyyear period, while the term or rights under the utility model shall take effect on the registration date as well, but lasting for a shorter term of ten years.

D. Applications and the examination procedure

The application and examination procedures differ amongst the Utility Model Act and the Patent Act on the following points.

(1)
The application form for patents requires attachment of a drawing only if necessary, however, the application form for utility models requires the attachment of a drawing.
(2)
The application, examination, and registration fees for a utility model are relatively cheaper than those for a patent.
(3)
The application period for examination for patents shall not exceed five years from the application date (from the priority date in case of claim of priority), while for the utility model the application period shall not exceed three years thereafter.

E. Requirements for rights license

The Patent Act and the Utility Model Act differ in that the former protects inventions and the latter protects utility designs. The Utility Model limits the right of licensing to cover only production, use, assignment, lending, or import of an article, or engagement into assignment or lending of said article.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

CHAPTER 2 INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

. Goals of the patent system

1. Meaning

The purpose of a patent system is to promote the industrial development of the nation in order to effectively protect “inventions” among industrial property rights. For this purpose, an inventor will be granted exclusive licensing rights in exchange for his or her disclosure of such invention to the Patent Office which will promote technological development and ultimately contribute to the nation’s industrial development. Each country’s system varies depending on their respective industrial policy. However, the basic mechanism where a grant of exclusive license is exchanged for disclosing an invention thus allowing a third party to utilize it according to a legal procedure is the same everywhere.

The Patent Act of Korea states in Article 1 “the purpose of this Act is to facilitate technological development and contribute to industrial development by protecting and encouraging invention and promoting its exploitation.” This indicates that “protection for invention” and “inventive application” are two cornerstones that are necessary for the purpose of industrial development.

2. Protection for invention

Article 22 Paragraph 2 under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea states that “the rights of authors, inventor, scientists, engineers and artists shall be protected by the Acts.” Protecting the ownership rights in the manufacturing industry are prescribed by related Acts. The Acts provide substantial protection for inventions, as well as processes that are deemed patentable under the Patent Act as a property right for a certain period of time.

3. Inventive application

An inventive application requires the disclosure of an invention to the public in return for its protection and enablement of a third party to freely avail himself of such invention for the purpose of research. An inventive application shall consist of the “disclosure of invention” and the “inventive license.”

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

A. Disclosure of invention

A person who pursues ownership for inventive rights shall submit certain contents of the invention to the government in order to obtain a grant of exclusive license to such invention. The contents of the invention shall be disclosed to the public unless an extraordinary circumstance exists. The Patent Act implements an open applications system and a public notification of registration system as a means of disclosure of invention. Such patents are disclosed by publication issued by the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

B. Inventive license

To obtain a patent, an inventor is always obligated to disclose the invention. But, under certain circumstances, an inventor may also be obligated to offer an inventive license to third parties. An inventive license includes, but is not limited to, his own license and licenses allowing third parties to use the invention for a certain price. Accordingly, most countries incorporating a patent system have stipulated provisions for controlling licenses under certain conditions for public interest reasons.

. Development of patents

1. Introduction of patents

In Korea, Seok Young Ji was the first to propose the idea of a patent system in his memorial speech to the government in 1882. However, Korea did not create a patent system until much later when the country received pressure from the rest of the world to establish a patent system.

Japan came to rule Korea after winning the ChinaJapan War and RussiaJapan War. On August 12, 1908, Japan and the United States entered into and promulgated the U.S.Japan Treaty addressing protection of invention, design, trademark and copyright for the purpose of protecting their respective homeland technology. A patent system was introduced through the Korea Patents Order (Japan Emperor Order 196). On August 29, 1910, the Korea Patents Order was abrogated after Annexation, and the Japan Patent Act was directly implemented in Korea.

In 1945, Japan was defeated in World War II and Korea regained independence. The Patents Administrative Incorporation Committee was founded on January 4, 1946. Shortly thereafter on January 22nd, the ‘Patents Office’ was established pursuant to Order 44,

U.S. Martial Law. On October 5, 1946, along with the inauguration of the first Commissioner of the Patent Office, the Patent Act was enacted and promulgated pursuant to Order 91, U.S. Martial Law. Thereafter, on October 15, 1946, the Local Rule, the Patent Act was promulgated, and a legal system for industrial property rights protection including the Utility Model Act and the Design Act was formed.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

2. Enactment and amendment of the Patent Act

(1)
December 31, 1961 the Patent Act was enacted On May 16, 1960, as a result of a legal reorganization project after a military revolution, contents of the Patent Act was incorporated into newly enacted 3 Acts, the Patent Act, the Utility Model Act, and the Design Act. The Patent Act shall be comprised of 158 provisions introducing Korea to modern patent systems such as the “first to file” system, industrial applicability of requirements for patentability, prior use right, non licensing revocation, the procedure for applications for nonresident nationals, etc.
(2)
Amendment of March 5, 1963: Added a provision to the definition of invention and amended the claim of priority system and change of an application.
(3)
Amendment of February 8, 1973: Added non patentable object, a provision that novelty is lost when an invention is released in an overseas bulletin prior to his application, and added compulsory licenses.
(4)
Amendment of December 31, 1973: Amended claim of priority regulation, added incomplete preparation for specification as a ground of patent invalidity, and added incomplete preparation for claim of patent.
(5)
Amendment of December 31, 1980: On May 1, 1980, added a multinomial system pursuant to the Joined Paris Treaty, added accelerated disclosure applications system, application for examination system, amendment limiting system, and a preferential examination provision.
(6)
Amendment of November 29, 1982: Addressed matters related to international procedures for applications pursuant to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in order to join the PCT.
(7)
Amendment of December 31, 1928: Allowed material patents, improved enactment system by non licensing, extended term to 15 years, and introduced the examination disposition system.
(8)
Wholly Amended Patent Act of January 13, 1990: expanded objects for patents for plant patents, admitted food, beverage and preferred substance patents, newly added local claim of priority system, refusal of amendment, refusal of amendment objection system, term of patents extension (application date for patents shall take effect for a twenty year period), and deleted limitation period for invalidity trials.
(9)
Amendment of December 10, 1999: Established a period to submit claim of priority, approve documents for months of divisions, revisions, newly added provisions, return patent fees, and provide scope for ex officio examination of an object.
(10)
Amendment of January 5, 1995: revised the trial system, established Intellectual Property Office, abrogated appeal on a ruling trial system and provided for a trial decision revocation within an exclusive jurisdiction of the Patent Court.
(11)
Amendment of December 29, 1995: Amendment accommodated WTO/TRIPs provisions.
(12)
Amendment of April 10, 1997: Abrogated a system for public announcement of applications, and introduced opposition to the grant of registration after patents.
(13)
Amendment of September 23, 1998: Introduced a system of electronic applications, abrogated a system of altered applications for a patent, introduced a system of dual applications for a patent, and performed PCT international investigations and international preliminary examination duties.
(14)
On December 1, 1999, started international investigation and international preliminary examination duties.
(15)
Amendment of February 3, 2001: Added cause of novelty loss, expanded exceptional subject of novelty loss, and amended amendment system, claim of priority provision, opposition to the grant of registration, and the trial system.
(16)
Amendment of March 3, 2006: Abrogated a system of dual application for a patent, revived a system of altered application for a patent, integrated opposition to the grant of registration into an invalidity trial system, and converted public announcement from a local system into an international system.
(17)
Amendment of January 3, 2007: Mitigated requirements to enter detailed explanation for an invention and claim of patent submission extension system, and diversified application examination system and claim of patent filling method.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

3. Reform of the patent litigation system

A. Background of system renovation

Ever since the “1946 Patent Act” which was enacted pursuant to Order 91, U.S. Martial Law after liberation on October 5, 1946, a patentrelated litigation system has established itself through the Korean Intellectual Property Office; the system allows trial at the Trial Court and the Appellate Court, then the final decision was made in the Supreme Court. However, a decision to refuse and a trial decision by the Korean Intellectual Property Office, in spite of being an administrative measure, was not allowed to appeal on a ruling from a High Court, but, instead, had to institute a final appeal to the Supreme Court according to the structure illustrated above. On the ground that such rights to judgment as guaranteed under the Constitutional Law was infringed, an action was called to the Constitutional Court on September 28, 1995 for violation of the Constitution with regard to 1992 Patent Act, specifically in violation of Article 186 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court ruled that there was a violation of the Constitution with respects to the Patent Act’s Article 186 Paragraph 1. Accordingly, on January 5, 1995, the Patent Act was amended mainly having a focus on the revision of the patent litigation system; the Amendment was made effective on March 1, 1998.

B. Major description

(1) Change of structure

The Trial Court of the Korean Intellectual Property Office previously took charge of first trial, the Appellate Court of the Korean Intellectual Property Office presided over the second trial, and the Supreme Court took charge of the third trial. The Trial Court and the Appellate Court were abrogated. And the newly established Intellectual Property Tribunal of Korean Intellectual Property Office took over the first trial, the Patent Court took over the second trial, and the Supreme Court has handled all unresolved issues. However, since the trial decision of the Intellectual Property Tribunal is not a court decision, the patent litigation system has actually adopted a dual trial format through the Patent Court and the Supreme Court.

(2) Establishment of the Intellectual Property Office

The Trial Court and the Appellate Court of the Korean Intellectual Property Office have been integrated. Also under the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the independent agency called the Intellectual Property Tribunal has been established, thus adjusting the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office to that of the President of Intellectual Property Tribunal with respect to the operation of the patent appeals system.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

(3) Establishment of the Patent Court

The Patent Court shall be established at the level of a High Court in the Ministry of Justice and have an original jurisdiction over actions concerning objections to trial decisions and rulings of the Intellectual Property Office.

4. Basic principles of the Patent Act in Korea

A. Principle of the right

Principle of the right means that an inventor has a right to obtain patents according to the Acts, and the government enforces this right following the system in place. Korea prescribes an inventor as a “patentable person” under the Acts declaring the principle of the right.

B. Substantive examination

The method to grant a patent shall be comprised of a nonsubstantive examination and a substantive examination. A nonsubstantive examination is a system in which formal methodological requirements apply to patents and to grant patentability. A substantial examination with regard to validity of patents shall be decided by the court at the time of inurement of a patent dispute. Substantive examination is a system in which substantial examination occurs in respect to the prerequisites for patentability. Korea has adopted the principle of substantive examination.

C. Prior right system

In cases where patent applications conflicted over identical inventions, the “firsttoinvent” principle grants the first inventor patents; the “firsttofile” system grants patents to the first applicant irrespective of when the invention was actually completed. The “firsttoinvent” principle protects the prior inventor and is desirable in promoting invention. However, procedurally, it is difficult to determine priority of completion of invention with this system. On the other hand, the “firsttofile” system protects the prior applicant and it is favored in promoting invention publication. At present, most countries, including Korea, have adopted the “firsttofile” system.

D. Laying open of application

Laying open of application is a system that publicizes an invention as applied after the lapse of the time limit from the application date for patents irrespective of whether or not the patent is granted to application, which mainly aims to promote inventive application and to prevent abuse of substantive examination.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

E. Application for substantive examination

The Patent Act introduced a patent application for examination system requesting substantial examination aside from the application itself, through substantial examination as processed by the order of applications for examination. The purpose of this system is to correct disadvantages of applicants and the third party by eliminating backlogging of examinations.

F. Public notification of registration and a system of oppositions to the grant of patents

The Office shall grant patents to patentable invention unless any cause of rejection is a result of substantial examination. When the patent is registered, anyone may take opposition to the grant of registration within three months of the public notification of registration date to minimize inefficient rights through cooperation by the public forum.

G. Registration system

Patents shall be inured by registration. Accordingly, patents shall be inured when one is entitled to a grant of a patent, pays a certain fee amount, and goes through the registration procedures. In addition, in cases where the right inures to change after patent registration, one can oppose a third party only after one registers the right.

SECTION 2 INTRODUCTION TO PROCEDURE FOR THE PATENT ACT

. Competency

1. Capacity

A. Meaning

“Legal Capacity” describes the position or qualification of a subject’s rights. Since not all legal competent persons are able to acquire rights or bear obligation, we rely on one’s competency to understand and determine intention to show that a legal competent person expresses “mental capacity”. Accordingly, a declaration of intention made by a person lacking mental capacity shall not be granted legal effect. However, to address the realistic issue of deciding mental capacity, the “incapacity system” was introduced within the scope of “legal action related to property”, which aims to protect incompetent persons by revoking their actions without confirming whether they act with mental capacity or not.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

A person may be considered either incompetent or competent in describing capacity. Accordingly, capacity means a position or a qualification who is solely entitled to valid legal action. Civil Code does not provide for capacity, however, such terms as competency, competent person, incompetency, incompetent person are related to capacity. Accordingly, the Patent Act prescribes capacity of incompetent person under Article 3 of the Act.

B. Incompetent person under the Patent Act.

(1) Incompetent person system

(a) Legal action taken solely by an incompetent person can be revoked and may not be revoked if the incompetent person stands favorable with the action. But once it is revoked, it shall be invalid retroactively, whose absolute effect of invalidity shall influence all parties thereof. This incompetent person system is frequently acted in common, and it shall be applied only to “legal action related to property” using declaration of intention as a determining factor.

(b) Civil Code prescribes the following persons as incompetent persons:

a person under 20 (minors),
a person who is declared a person of quasi competency under the adjudication of quasi competency by the court as a physically and mentally handicapped person or a person who is anticipated to live in poverty due to waste of fortune,
a person with physical and mental loss who is declared incompetent under the adjudication of competency by the court.

(2) Incompetent person under the Patent Act

The Patent Act prescribes “Minors” as a person of quasicompetency or a person of incompetency who shall not apply for patents without a legal representative. However, it shall not be applicable to such cases where minors and a person of quasicompetency are deemed to take legal action independently. This is pursuant to the incompetent person system of the Civil Code found in Paragraph 1, Article 3 of the Act, which prescribes that an incompetent person can only apply for the procedures for patents through legal representatives.

(3) Authority of legal representative

The scope of power of attorney shall be prescribed by the provisions of the Act. Article 950 from the Civil Code states that, in order to protect an incompetent person from arbitrary actions of his legal representative, the legal representative will be able to represent incompetent person in the procedural act with consent of a family meeting, and the actions of the legal representative in violation of this regulation can be revoked

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

by the family meeting. On the other hand, Paragraph 2, Article 3, Patent Act prescribes that the “legal representative of Paragraph 1 shall be able to take action regarding opposition for patent proceedings for trial or reexamination by a third party without a consent of a family meeting.” This indicates that a legal representative shall be able to take proceedings regarding opposition for patent trial or reexamination by a third party for passiverelative procedural acts between parties without a consent from a family meeting.

(4) Ratification by a legal representative

(a)
Ratification means abandonment of a right of revocation (declaration of intention of a legal action to another party that can be revoked by a ratifier), if ratified, a revocable act cannot be revoked thereafter. Its legal action shall be completely valid whose effect shall be applied retroactively effective to the first time of act.
(b)
Article 172 of the Patent Act prescribes that “any procedure taken by a person without capacity or a legal power of attorney, or a person with a defect in authorization necessary to taking the procedures with respect to patents shall be effective retroactively to the act in cases of an amended party or ratification by a legal representative.” Accordingly, “ratification” under the Patent Act shall not mean abandonment of the right of revocation, but declaration of intention that invalidity of the procedure (Article 16 of the Act, Article 46 of the Act) taken by a person without capacity or a legal power of attorney, or a person with defect in authorization necessary to taking the procedures with respect to patents shall be retroactively effective to the time when the action occurs.

2. Legal capacity

A. Meaning

“Legal Capacity” or “Legal Character” means a position or a qualification that can be the subject of rights. In the Civil Code, a person that is the subject of rights of legal capacity is a human being “natural person” or a certain group, association or foundation “legal entity”. The provisions of litigation party competency of an unincorporated association or foundation that is substantially an association or a foundation, but fails to obtain authorization by the competent authorities or go through registration of establishment shall not be prescribed in the General Provisions of the Civil Code, but in Article 48, Civil Procedure Act. In the Patent Act, one must have legal capacity in order to be the subject of rights related to a patentrelated procedure and a patent right.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

B. Legal capacity of an association, etc, not in case of legal entity

Article 4 of the Patent Act prescribes “in cases where a representative or a manager is determined as an association or a foundation, not a legal entity, a person shall be able to apply for examination, oppositions to the grant of a patent, apply and defend a trial decision or apply and defend for reexamination in the name of its association or foundation.” This means that anyone entitled to apply for an examination and oppositions to the grant of patents within a set period of time, and the fact that an association or a foundation, not a legal entity is prescribed to be entitled to be a party in trial or reexamination has the same purpose prescribed in the Article 48, Civil Procedure Act “as an association or a foundation, not a legal entity, a representative or patent manager can be a party in its name.”

C. A foreigners legal capacity

(1)
A foreigner is a natural person not holding a nationality of the Republic of Korea, including a person who holds a nationality of foreign countries and a person without holding a nationality. A foreigner’s position, as prescribed by Paragraph 2, Article 6 of the Constitution “shall be guaranteed pursuant to the international Act and Treaty.” This is based upon the equal protection clause that allows the same legal capacity as that of resident nationals. Thus, foreign nationals shall be provided for individually in the Acts with regard to restriction to a foreigner’s legal capacity.
(2)
Article 25 of the Patent Act restricts a foreigner’s patents or rights with respect to patents based upon resident nationals and the mutual equal protection clause. Accordingly, if a foreigner applies for a patent in violation of the provisions of Article 25 of the Patent Act, it shall be reasons for rejection, reasons for oppositions to the grant of patents and reasons for invalidity.

. Power of attorney

1. Meaning

Effect of legal action shall be inured to a person who declares the intention to utilize power of attorney. However, in a system of “power of attorney”, the legal effect is ascribed to the third party, not the person who declared the intention. This power of attorney was not allowed in ancient Roman or German law. But in the 17th century, Germany developed an “agreement for the third party” theory which is now known as the power of attorney. The concept of power of attorney has been admitted as an independent legal system and is allowed in all legal action except for ‘statusrelated legal action’ where one demands sole and absolute decisionmaking power. Accordingly, the power of attorney separates a person with legal action or declaration of intention from a person

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

who receives such legal effect. The effect of representation by power of attorney shall totally belong to him or her.

The provisions regulating the power of attorney can be found in the Patent Act under Article 3, legal power of attorney, Article 5, patent manager system by nonresident nationals, Article 6 to 10, the scope, authenticity, nondistinguishment of power of attorney, and individual agent and replacement. In addition, the Civil Procedure Act shall apply mutatis mutandis to matters not related to Article 12 of the Patent Act unless otherwise described with regard to an agent specifically prescribed in the Patent Act.

2. Types and rights of power of attorney

An agent under the Patent Act can be divided into a “legal representative” or a “temporary substitute” pursuant to the type of inurement.

A. Legal representative

(1) Meaning

A legal representative is a person who holds power of attorney pursuant to the provisions of the Patent Act regardless of the intention of the principal. Parents who are persons having paternal right (Article 909, Article 911, Civil Code) or guardians (Article 928, Civil Code) shall be legal representatives under the positive law with regard to minors among incompetent persons and guardians (Article 929, Article 938, Civil Code) with regard to person of quasicompetency or person of incompetency.

Paragraph 1, Article 3 of the Patent Act states that “minors, person of quasicompetency or person of incompetency, unless otherwise through a legal representative, shall not go through the procedure for application for a patent for others. However, this shall not be applicable to such cases where minors and a person of quasicompetency are deemed to take a legal action independently”, which prescribes that incompetent persons can and shall take the procedure for patents only through a legal representative.

(2) The scope of power of attorney

The scope of power of attorney shall be prescribed by the provisions of the Patent Act. Article 950 of the Civil Code regulates that, in order to protect an incompetent person from arbitrariness of a legal representative, the legal representative may represent an incompetent person in the procedural act with consent of a family meeting, and the actions of a legal representative in violation of the above regulation can be revoked by the family meeting. On the other hand, Paragraph 2, Article 3 of the Patent Act states that the “legal representative of Paragraph 1 shall be able to take proceedings regarding opposition for patents, proceedings for trial or reexamination from the other party without a consent of a family meeting.” This indicates that a legal representative shall be able to take proceedings regarding disadvantageous acts against an incompetent person without consent from a family meeting.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

B. Temporary substitute

Temporary substitute refers to the case when a principal grants power of attorney to another. Temporary substitute can be divided into a “nonexclusive agent” and a “patent manager” depending on whether the principal has his or her own address or a place of business.

(1) Nonexclusive agent

(a) Meaning

Nonexclusive agent refers to a “patent manager” under the Patent Act and an agent of a person who has his or her own address or place of business.

(b) The scope of temporary substitute

The scope of temporary substitute is determined through “conferred power” of the Patent Act stating that the principal grants the agent power of attorney. A nonexclusive agent, unless otherwise conferred power as prescribed by Article 6 of the Patent Act, shall have a right to take a patentrelated procedure. Matters related to specially conferred power needing confirmation of individual intention of the principal are provided for as “applications abandonment, withdrawal, withdrawal of application for registration of extension of term of patents, patents abandonment, withdrawal of application, withdrawal of a request for a trial, claim of priority or its withdrawal prescribed under Paragraph 1 of Article 55, a request for a trial or appointment of subagent prescribed under Article 1323.”

(2) Patent manager

(a) Concept

The Patent Act provides for a patent manager system for smooth patents procedures for nonresident nationals. A patent manager is a person who has an address or a place of business in Korea as an agent with respect to patents of nonresident nationals among temporary substitutes. Nonresident nationals shall not take part in a patentrelated procedure or bring an action against measures taken by the administrative agency regarding the Patent Act or orders pursuant to the Patent Act without a patent manager (Paragraph 1, Article 5 of the Act).

(b) Right

The current Amendment Act prescribes that the patent manager shall be able to represent all procedures with respect to patents within the conferred scope of representation. It shall have a general right unlike a nonexclusive agent even in the act of following the principal’s disadvantage. And, without specially conferred power, it can represent disadvantageous acts such as a withdrawal of applications or a withdrawal of a request for a trial (Paragraph 2, Article 5 of the Act).

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

For example, if the scope of power of attorney says, in the blank of delegating power of attorney, “whole cases with respect to applications of the court”, it shall be deemed that it is included in specially conferred power issues.

3. Certification of power of attorney

A. Meaning

The effect of representation of power of attorney shall belong to the principal, therefore, power of attorney of a person who has taken a patentrelated procedure including patent manager shall be provided in written form (Article 7 of the Act).

Documents that approve power of attorney of a legal representative shall consist of an extract or a copy of the domiciliary register, an extract or a copy of registration of incorporation, and documents to approve temporary substitute include a power of attorney or other arrangements approving conferred power, etc.

In cases where a person has not approved power of attorney to initiate a patentrelated procedure, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal or a presiding trial examiner shall order an amendment by indicating a certain period to prove power of attorney in a written form. In cases where a person fails to provide such an amendment order, he shall be liable to invalidity of the procedure for the year or be forced to dismiss his request for a trial (Article 16 of the Act, Article 141 of the Act).

B. In a case of individual power of attorney

In cases where a person initiates a patentrelated procedure through an appointed power of attorney, he shall submit a power of attorney in an attached form to report of power of attorney appointment.

However, appointment report shall not be submitted in cases where an agent submits an application form for patents, oppositions form to the grant of patents, application form for a trial. reapplication for examination report or written reply attaching a power of attorney in cases of applications, oppositions to the grant of patents, request for a trial, reapplication for examination or reply to oppositions to the grant of patents, request for a trial, reapplication for examination (Paragraph 2, Article 5, Local Rule).

C. In a case of general power of attorney

In cases where a patentrelated procedure is initiated by an agent, and he would like to grant a general power of attorney without specifying the cases in advance with regard to present and future issues, he shall submit an application for a general power of attorney registration together with a general power of attorney to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office. The Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

will give a general power of attorney registration number and notify its number to the applicant for general power of attorney registration.

Requirements under the general power of attorney registration include entering the general power of attorney registration number onto the documents submitted to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal without the need to include additional proof of power of attorney. However, such procedures of general power of attorney will not be allowed in oppositions to the grant of patents and trial (except for a trial against decision to refuse a patent or decision to revoke a patent). Therefore, the provisions of individual power of attorney shall apply mutatis mutandis to matters related to the application for a general power of attorney registration.

4. Nondistinguishment of power of attorney

A. Meaning

An agent by power of attorney who initiates a patentrelated procedure of the Patent Act shall, in spite of problems to the principal himself, maintain continuity of the procedure. And for swiftsmooth proceedings of administrative procedure, application of nondistinguishment of power of attorney of litigation under Article 86 of the Civil Procedure Act shall be applied mutatis mutandis.

B. Cause of nondistinguishment of power of attorney

The power of attorney of an agent shall not be extinguished even if the following causes inured to the principal or a legal representative who delegated a patentrelated procedure.

the death of the principal or loss of legal capacity
the extinguishment of a legal entity of the principal due to a merger
the termination of the duty of trust of the principal
the death or loss of legal capacity of the legal representative or the modification or extinguishment of the power of attorney

5. Principle of individual agent

If there are multiple agents of a person who initiate a patentrelated procedure, each person represents the principal with regard to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal (Article 9 of the Act). Accordingly, in cases where there are several agents, any of the procedures initiated between the Korean Intellectual Property Office and an agent shall be deemed valid, and documents shall be transmitted to any one of the several agents.

The actions of the several agents may contradict or collide with each other. In cases where the contradictions occur at the same time, none shall be valid. However, in cases

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

where it happens at a different time, if the proceeding act can be withdrawn, its act shall be withdrawn by the subsequent act. Likewise, if the proceeding act cannot be withdrawn, the subsequent act shall have no effect.

6. Replacement of power of attorney, etc

In cases where it is deemed that the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner determines, in its sole discretion, that a person who initiates a patentrelated procedure is not expected to appropriately carry out its procedure or he will not be able to carry out its procedure smoothly or express his own opinions at oral hearing, he shall be able to order to carry out such procedure by the agent. (Paragraph 1, Article 10 of the Act) In cases where it is deemed that the agent of a person who initiates a patentrelated procedure is not expected to appropriately carry out its procedure or he will not be able to carry out its procedure smoothly or express his own opinions at oral hearing, then he shall be able to order a replacement for the agency (Paragraph 2, Article 10 of the Act).

The Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner, after ordering appointment or replacement of power of attorney, shall be able to invalidate a patentrelated procedure related to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal taken by a person who initiates a patentrelated procedure prior to appointment or replacement of power of attorney or an agent prior to replacement.

7. Common representative

A. Meaning

The term “common representative” means a person who is reported to be a party in a written form to represent multiple parties initiating two or more patentrelated procedures. In this sense, the procedure will be simpler than that in taking two or more patentrelated procedures at the same time. A representative of multiple parties is similar in its legal characteristics of a party designated under Article 49 of the Civil Procedure Act, however, differing in that it represents multiple parties.

B. Capacity of multiple parties

(1)
In a case where two or more patent related procedures are initiated, with the exception of procedures that are disadvantageous to other multiple parties, all parties shall be represented. In other words, the procedure initiated by one party shall be effective to multiple parties, unless otherwise prescribed by any of the following Subparagraphs, Paragraph 1, Article 11 of the Act, shall affect all of the parties. However, in cases where the parties appoint and report a representative to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal in a written form, the representative shall only be entitled to the procedure.
(2)
The representative shall not be allowed any of the following procedures as prescribed by Paragraph 1, Article 11 of the Act, therefore, multiple parties shall complete the following procedure.
applications abandonment or withdrawal of application for registration of extension of patent terms
withdrawal of application, local claim of priority or its withdrawal
withdrawal of a request for a trial
request for a trial with regard to decision to refuse a patent or decision to revoke a patent

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

C. Common representative

(1) A representative

In a case of initiating two or more patentrelated procedures, each multiple party shall appoint its own representative in taking action on behalf of each multiple party. In cases where the parties would like to appoint and report a representative out of multiple parties with the number of reported representatives, the representative shall only be entitled to the procedure.

(2) The right of a representative

A common representative shall have the position of the principal and a representative of other parties concurrently; it shall be entitled to the procedure of representing all of parties commonly. A procedural act representing other parties shall be enabled within a scope that is allowed by each representative. Accordingly, in cases where one initiates the procedural act as illustrated in Paragraph 1, Article 11 of the Act, one shall obtain an agreement of the other party.

8. Venue of nonresident nationals

Special venue for nonresident nationals is prescribed in Civil Procedure Act Article

9: “a trial related to a property right without an address or without a known address in the Republic of Korea shall be brought in the court with the jurisdiction of purpose for a request for a trial or object of mortgage or seizable address of a property of a defendant.”

Accordingly, a trial against a patent or the patent right of nonresident nationals shall be brought:

in the court with the jurisdiction of address or a place of business of its patent manager if one was registered,
in the court with the jurisdiction of location of the Korean Intellectual Property Office if a patent manager was not registered.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

. Period

1. Meaning

Due date indicates a certain period. Period means continued time from a certain designated point of time to another certain designated point of time. The calculating method of period shall be normally determined pursuant to Civil Code (Article 155Article 161), however, the Patent Act prescribes another period calculating method (Article 14 of the Act), therefore, this act shall be given preference over other Acts.

2. Types of period

A. Legal period

Legal period refers to the period pursuant to the relevant Act, and may include the extension period (Paragraph 1, Article 15 under the Patent Act) or an additional period (Paragraph 5, Article 186 under the Patent Act). The legal period shall not include any arbitrary length of time. Legal period under the Patent Act shall include, but not be limited to, a deadline for submission of certificates in cases of being deemed an invention without public announcement (Paragraph 2, Article 30 of the Patent Act), an altered applications period (Paragraph 1, Article 53 of the Act), an application period for examination for patents (Paragraph 2, Article 59 of the Act), etc.

B. A designated deadline

A designated deadline refers to the time determined pursuant to the Patent Acts deemed necessary to carry out the procedure by the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the President of Intellectual Property Tribunal, and a presiding trial examiner or examiner. A designated deadline under the Patent Act shall include, but not be limited to, a consultation order period for identical applications (Paragraph 6, Article 36 of the Act), a procedural amendment period (Article 46 of the Act), and a written argument for deadline submission (Article 63 of the Act), etc.

3. Calculating method for period

Calculating method for period is divided into “natural calculating method” that exactly calculates the natural time flow from one moment to another moment and “calendar calculating method” calculates the time pursuant to the calendar time. In addition, the calendar calculating method is classified into “extensive calculating method” that extends a substantial period by excluding the beginning day and “contractive calculating method” refers to contracting a substantial period by including one day. The Patent Act adopts the former, “extensive calculating method”, as a base, although the latter is exceptionally accepted.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

A. Day on which computation begins (Paragraph 1, Article 14 of the Act)

The Patent Act adopts the extensive calculating method, which excludes the beginning day in the counting period. In rare cases, however, where the period begins at 12:00 a.m., the beginning day is included. For example, in cases where a written argument deadline for submission is June 10, 2001, the period shall be 12:00 a.m., June 11, 2001 that is calculated to be extended in a case of an application for extension of the period.

B. Day of expiration

(1)
In cases where the period is determined by the month or the year, it shall be computed by the calendar method (Paragraph 2, Article 14 of the Act). For example, the date of expiration following three months beginning from 12:00 a.m., August shall be 12:00 p.m., November 30.
(2)
In cases where the period is not computed from the beginning of the month or the year, the period expires on the previous day of expiration on which computation began in the last month or year (Paragraph 3, Article 14 of the Act). For example, the day of expiration one month after June 30, based upon principle of not inserting the beginning day, shall have its day on which computation begins on July 1, and shall have its day of expiration on July 31, a previous expiration day of August 1, one month thereafter.
(3)
In cases where it is determined that pursuant to the month or the year, and there isn’t a day applicable in the last month, the period shall expire as of the last day of the month (Paragraph 3, Article 14 of the Act). For example, the last day of the month following one month after January thirty (30) shall be the last day of February.
(4)
In cases where the last day of the period is a holiday (including Labor Day and Saturdays), and the procedure is patent related, the period shall expire on the following day (Paragraph 4, Article 14 of the Act). However, in cases of computation of the period, such as term of patents not including patent related procedure, the period expires on the holiday even if the last day of the period is a holiday.

4. Extension of period

A. Meaning

In cases where a person initiates a patentrelated procedure and is unable to perform the procedural act during the allotted period, he shall lose the opportunity to take such act. However, an extension of a patent term system is available for the protection of

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

an inventor for the benefit of a person who initiates a patentrelated procedure residing in an area that is remote or difficult to access or is not expected to take such act within a set period of time (Article 15 of the Act).

B. Period of subjection of extension

(1) Legal period

The Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal may extend the following period by ex officio determination or by a party’s application for the benefit of a person residing in an area that is remote or difficult to access.

the period within thirty days after oppositions to the grant of patents that can amend cause or evidence of opposition to the grant of registration by the applicant for oppositions to the grant of a patent,
the period within thirty days as of the date of submission of the decision to refuse appeal by a person who has a decision to refuse,
the period within thirty days as of the date of submission of a copy of decision to revoke by a person who has a decision to revoke,
the period within thirty days as of the date of submission of a copy of decision to apply for appeal of an examiner’s decision of refusal by a person who has a decision to refuse an application to extend the term of a patent right.

(2) A designated deadline

A designated deadline indicates that a written argument for a deadline for submission shall be within two months as pursuant to Article 63 of the Act. An amendment period shall be one month as pursuant to Article 46 of the Act as a rule. However, the extension or contraction of a designated deadline may be offered if necessary. At this time, in cases where the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the President of Intellectual Property Tribunal, a presiding trial examiner or examiner determine the period for a patentrelated procedure, it may ex officio or by a party’s application determine an extension or a contraction.

C. Extension of the procedure

A person who would like to receive a legal period or a designated extension of a period shall pay the required fee for an application form for extension of a patent term as prescribed by Paragraph 2, Article 16, Local Rule of the Patent Act prior to the expiration of the original term and submit it to the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Where the application form is submitted after the lapse of the set period, extension of a patent term shall not be approved.

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

. Introduction to the procedure

1. The effects of the procedure

A. Period of enter into force

(1)
A patent related procedure shall be by submitted documents that take effect upon the receipt by the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal (Paragraph 1, Article 28 of the Act).
(2)
Where the documents are delivered to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal by mail, the law adopts the principle to regard the date on which the documents are submitted to the post office as the date on which the documents arrive in the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal if the mail has a clear sealed impression on it.
If the sealed day is not clear, the day that is proved by the receipt of mail shall be deemed to arrive at the Korea Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal. However, where the registration application forms regarding patents rights and documents related to international applications under the provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty Article 2(vii) are submitted by mail, the above principle of arrival shall be adopted (Paragraph 2, Article 28 of the Act).
(3)
In cases where documents are submitted by mail, any delay or loss of mail and submission of documents due to suspension of postal service, the procedure shall be as follows:

(a) Delay and loss of the mail

Where an applicant submits documents by registered mail with regard to international applications submitted to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office which fails to be delivered due to delay or loss of the mail within the deadline for submission, he may submit proof that he already submitted documents by mail within five days prior to the deadline for submission to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (Paragraph 1, Article 86, Local Rule, Patent Act). Submission of evidence shall be made within one month as of the day that an applicant is aware of a delay of a document’s arrival or the day that he could have been aware of the fact if he had paid considerable attention, but it shall be submitted within six months from expiration of a deadline for submission for the documents. In cases where it is deemed that the documents couldn’t arrive within a deadline for submission due to a delay or loss of the mail as seen from the submitted evidence, the documents shall be presumed to be regarded as submitted within the deadline for submission (Paragraph 2, Article 86, Local

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

Rule, Patent Act). Note that the documents may be delivered via air mail. In addition, in cases where it is clear that it usually takes more than three days to arrive if otherwise by a method other than air mail and the documents are not delivered via air mail, it shall not be deemed to arrive within the deadline for submission (Paragraph 3).

(b) Suspension of postal service

Where an applicant submits documents with regard to international applications to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office and the documents fail to arrival within a deadline for submission due to suspension of postal service as a result of war, revolution, riot, strike, natural disaster or other similar accidents in the locality or a place of stay belonging to an address or a place of business of applications or its power of attorney, applications may submit evidence to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Submission of evidence shall be made within one month from the day that an applicant is aware of the delay of the document arrival or the day that he could have been aware of the fact if he had paid considerable attention, but it shall be submitted within six months from the expiration of a deadline for submission of the documents. Where it is deemed that the reason the documents failed to arrive within a deadline for submission arrival was due mainly to delay by the postal service as seen from submitted evidence, an applicant may prove he delivered the documents within five days of recovery from the postal service, the documents shall be presumed to be submitted within the deadline for submission.

B. Succession of effect

The effects of a patentrelated procedure or other a patentrelated right extends to the successor in title. The effects of the procedure includes not only the effects of the procedures that a party initiates to the Korean Intellectual Property Office but also the general procedures the Korean Intellectual Property Office initiates to a party.

C. Continuation of the procedure

Where a patentrelated procedure continues in the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal and application for transfer of a patentrelated right is made, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner may continue its procedure for a patentrelated right with its successor and with the notification to the party in a written form.

2. Invalidity of the procedure

Invalidity of the procedure occurs when the procedure effective retroactively loses its effects of a patentrelated procedure initiated to the Korean Intellectual Property Office

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or Intellectual Property Tribunal due to defection from regulation. The Patent Act prescribes the provisions related to the amendment of defective procedure within a period ruled by the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal. If the defect fails to be amended within a certain period of time, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal shall, in its own discretional administrative act, make a decision to invalidate the procedure.

A. Subject of amendment order

(1) In violation of the provisions of Paragraph 1, Article 3 of the Act (capacity of Minors, etc) or Article 6 (the scope of power of attorney)

In cases where an incompetent person without capacity such as minors, person of quasicompetency or persons of incompetency, initiates a patentrelated procedure without a legal representative for patentrelated procedure, or an agent initiates a patentrelated procedure of applications for patents abandonment, withdrawal of application, withdrawal of a request for a trial, local claim of priority or its withdrawal, decision to refuse a patent, a request for a trial for a decision to revoke a patent or refuse an application to extend the term of a patent right or a decision to refuse a patent or appointment of subagent without especially conferred power of the principal, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal may order a procedural amendment by designating a deadline. If no such legal amendment is made within the designated deadline for legal amendments, the procedure may be invalid.

(2) In violation of type

A patentrelated procedure shall observe the provisions as prescribed by the Patent Act, and any violated procedure shall be ordered to amend. If no such legal amendment is made within a designated deadline of legal amendment, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal shall make the procedure for amendment invalid.

(3) In cases of not paying the fee

An applicant who initiates a patentrelated procedure shall pay the required fee, however if the applicant fails to pay within the set period of time, the procedure shall be invalid. In cases where a person, not an applicant for patent, applies for examination and then amends the application and therefore adds claims for a patent, an applicant shall pay an application fee for examination per its increased claims for a patent. If the application fee for examination fails to be paid within set period of time, any amendment to the specification shall be invalid.

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B. Remedies for disposition of invalidity

(1)
In cases where the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal invalidates a patent related procedure due to failure to observe a designated deadline pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 1, Article 16 of the Act results from probable reasons not belonging to the responsibility of a person who is ordered to amend, the invalidation may be revoked by the party’s application within 14 days of extinguishment of the reasons. However, this shall not be applicable in cases where a year elapses after expiration of a designated deadline. A person who wants to apply for a revocation of invalidation shall hand in:
documents approving reasons of laches,
in cases where the procedure was initiated by an agent, the documents approving power of attorney shall be submitted to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal.
(2)
A person who receives an invalidation to a patent related procedure by the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office may bring an administrative trial or bring an action in the administrative court in opposition to its invalidation.

3. Subsequent completion of the procedure

In cases where a person initiates patentrelated procedure and is delayed without following the procedural act during the specified act period, he shall lose the opportunity to take such act. However, it may be deemed harsh and unfair that the applicant lose such an opportunity due to “nonascribable reasons.” Therefore, the procedure that is not performed within a certain period can be subsequently be completed through remedies as prescribed by Article 17 of the Act.

A. Reasons of subsequent completion

Subsequent completion shall be restricted to cases with “nonascribable reasons of a person who has taken a patentrelated procedure.” These reasons include, not only natural disaster or force majeure, but any other reasons that could not have been avoided even if they paid utmost attention and with full capacity.

B. Subject of subsequent completion

The period of subsequent completion under the Civil Procedure Act shall be restricted to a peremptory period as stipulated in the provisions of a legal period, and the rest of the period shall not be subject to a subsequent completion. Where for the same purpose, a person who has taken a patentrelated procedure fails to observe due to nonascribable

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reasons a request for a trial period prescribed under Article 1323, the application period for reexamination prescribed under Paragraph 1, Article 180 of the Patent Act, the subsequent completion may be admitted.

C. The procedure for subsequent completion

An applicant shall apply for a subsequent completion within 14 days of extinguishment of the reasons. However, the application must be within one year following expiration of its original period. A person applying for it shall submit:

documents approving reasons of laches,
where the procedure was initiated by an agent, the documents approving power of attorney shall be submitted to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal.

4. Suspension of the procedure

Suspension of the procedure may occur and may be differentiated from when a procedure is substantially stopped as a result of applying for an extension of a patent term. Suspension of the procedure shall be needed in cases where a party might not be able to participate in the proceedings of procedure if the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal continues regardless of the death of the principal, the merger between legal entities, extinguishment of the power of attorney, and so forth which makes a party incapable of carrying out the procedure. Suspension of the procedure consists of interruption of the procedure and suspension of the procedure. Interruption of the procedure means that proceedings of a legal procedure is stopped until a new party shows up and performs where a party may not be able to perform the procedure due to certain reasons.

Suspension of the procedure is logically stopped due to legal reasons or the Korean Intellectual Property Office decides the procedure should be stopped in cases where the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal encounters unexpected issues that may impede proceedings. Accordingly, if reasons for interruption of the procedure occur, a person who carries out the procedure may be accompanied by a replacement. On the other hand, in cases of a suspension of the procedure, a person who carries out the procedure may not be accompanied by a replacement.

A. Interruption of the procedure

(1) Reasons for interruption Interruption of the procedure may occur due to the following legal reasons.

(a) In the case of the death of the principal

Where a party dies in the process of the procedure, or is presumed to be dead based upon a missing report, the procedure is interrupted until a successor takes over the

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procedure. A qualified successor shall be a person who should continue the procedure by succession as a property manager or the person who can continue the procedure as pursuant to the Act. However, a successor shall not resume its procedure until the successor abandons its succession. Accordingly, where a successor abandons succession within a deadline for abandonment, the procedure will finish without interruption.

(b) In the case of extinguishment of the principal or legal entities due to a merger, the procedure shall be interrupted. However, in the case of liquidation of a legal entity due to reasons other than a merger, an interruption shall not occur since a liquidated legal entity still exists. Accordingly, rights and obligations of a legal entity shall be interrupted where a legal entity is newly established pursuant to the Act. A legal successor shall be a new legal entity in cases where a new legal entity is established due to a merger.

(c) Where the principal loses capacity to initiate the procedure

A party may lose capacity to perform actions where he is adjudicated to quasicompetency, incompentency, or a loss of mental capacity. Accordingly, a person or a legal representative who recovers competency to initiate the procedure shall resume its procedure.

(d) In cases of the extinguishment of a legal entity of the principal due to a merger

A party shall not alter itself. However, the procedure shall be interrupted in cases where power of attorney is lost in cases of the death of a legal representative or suspension of inservice execution, and a party or a legal representative who recovered competency to initiate the procedure shall resume its procedure.

(e) In the case of the termination of the duty of trust of the principal

This refers to the termination of the duty of the principal as pursuant to the Trust Act where a new trustee shall resume the procedure.

(f) In the cases of the death of a common representative or loss of its qualification as prescribed under Paragraph 1, Article 11

In cases of reporting a common representative to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, a representative shall only initiate the procedure. However in cases of the death of a representative or loss of qualification, the procedure shall be interrupted, and a new representative or each party shall resume the procedure.

(2) Exceptions to interruption

Except for the above reasons for interruption of the procedure, the proceedings of procedure shall continue without extinguishment of its power of attorney in order to protect a profit of a successor in cases where there is an agent to a party who triggered an interruption. Since an agent may become an agent of a new party without the procedure for resumption,

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the procedure for litigation shall not be interrupted for the above reasons of interruption.

(3) Settlement of interruption

Interruption of the procedure may be solved by application for a resumption by a party or resumption order by the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Once solved, proceedings shall resume.

(a) Without taking the procedure for resumption

An application for a resumption of a procedure may be utilized by a successor of a party who has reasons for interruption or the person who precede the successor. This promotes swift procedural performance by enabling an application for resumption for the other party. The Commissioner of Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner shall inform the other party of the application, and determine whether it is resumed or not. The presiding trial examiner shall dismiss the request ex officio by decision after examining the request.

(b) Resumption order

The Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the trial examiner, in cases where the person as prescribed by Article 21 of the Act fails to resume an interrupted procedure, may ex officio determine a designating period of resumption to carry out the procedure. In the case of failure to resume the procedure within a set period as pursuant to a resumption order of the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the trial examiner, it shall be presumed to resume on the following day after expiration of its period. In this case, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner shall notify the fact of resumption to the person as prescribed by Article 21 of the Act.

(4) Effect of interruption

In cases of interruption of a patentrelated procedure, the act of carrying out the procedure shall be invalid. Proceedings of all periods shall resume upon the delivering of a notification of resumption or continuation. In short, proceedings of a period prior to interruption shall be ignored and shall be deemed that a party resumes its procedure from the beginning.

B. Suspension of the procedure

(1) Reasons of suspension

(a) Natural suspension : In cases where the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the trial examiner shall not be deemed to continue its inservice duties on account of a natural disaster, an extraordinary geographical phenomenon or other unavoidable reasons, the pending procedure in the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal shall be suspended until extinguishment of these events,

INTRODUCTION TO PATENTS

and the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner shall inform such fact to each respective party.

(b) The Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or the trial examiner, in cases where a party is unable to continue the pending procedure in the Korean Intellectual Property Office or Intellectual Property Tribunal due to an unfixed period of disability, may determine its suspension by an order, and once the cause of the suspension is solved, suspension may be revoked. In cases of suspension or revocation, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office or a presiding trial examiner shall inform such fact to each respective party.

(c) The procedure might be suspended in relation to other procedures.

A procedure for the examination might be suspended until oppositions to the grant of patents are finally determined, a trial decision is made, or the procedure for litigation is completed if it is deemed necessary to the examination of applications or oppositions to the grant of patents. If it is deemed necessary to a trial, a procedure for the examination might be suspended until oppositions to the grant of patents related to the trial case are determined, a trial decision of the other trial is made, or the procedure for litigation is completed.

(2) The effects of suspension

In the event of a suspension of a patentrelated procedure, procedures of its period shall stop and procedures of all period shall resume as of the day when a party notifies resumption of its procedure or continues its procedure.

. Publication

1. Meaning

Publications are public bulletins issued by the Korean Intellectual Property Office to inform the public of patentsrelated matters or patents (Article 221 of the Act). Publications shall be issued as either “Publication for registration public bulletin” or “PreGrant Publication” for convenience of record keeping (Article 19, Enforcement Decree, Patent Act).

2. Publication for public notification of registration

Publication for public notification of registration shall include the following matters (Paragraph 2, Article 19, Order).

name and address of a patentee (in the case of a legal entity, its title, a place of business)
applications number, classification symbol and application date
inventor’s name and address
patents number and registration date
public notification of registration date
matters regarding claim of priority
matters regarding dual applications or divisional applications (amendment 2003.6.13)
specification, drawing and abstract attached to application form for patents
laying open of application number and publication date
provisions corrected as pursuant to the provisions of Article 77, Article 133 2, Article 136 and Article 137 of the Act
any other matters deemed necessary by the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office

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3. PreGrant Publication

PreGrant Publication shall include the following matters (Paragraph 3, Article 19 of the Order). However, the matters that may disrupt public order or morality or harm public health shall not be disclosed.

name and address of a patentee (in the case of a legal entity, its title, a place of business)
applications number, classification symbol and application date
inventor’s name and address
laying open of an application number and publication date
specification, drawing and abstract attached to application form for patents
matters regarding claim of priority
dual applications or dual applications with respect to matters(amendment 2003.6.13)
the fact of application for examination under Paragraph 2, Article 60 of the Act. However, in cases when its fact is not disclosed at the time of the laying open of an application, publication number of applications, classification symbol and applications number shall be disclosed on Pre Grant Publication with the fact of its application for examination.
the purpose that “anybody shall be able to submit to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office the information that the invention shall not be patentable with an evidence approving the fact” in cases of publication of applications under the provisions of Article 64 of the Act
matters related to other applications publication

4. Effect disclosed in the PreGrant Publication

Where the matters of an application are disclosed through PreGrant Publication, a party shall have a claim for compensation (Article 65 of the Act) with which he shall be able to apply for compensation to be rewarded for a loss as a result of a business

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without a just title and “firsttofile” position of the third party. In addition, the third party may submit to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office the purpose that the invention shall not be patentable with evidence approving of the fact.

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CHAPTER 3 PATENTS INVENTION

SECTION 1 PATENTABLE INVENTION

. Meaning

Invention means to create a new thing by using one’s knowledge, including, but not limited to the production of a new method, technology, material, or appliance through scientific and technological creativity.

However, not all inventions may be protected as patents. Only patentable inventions prescribed by the Patent Act shall be protected as patents. Inventions which may disrupt public order, corrupt morality, or harm public health shall not be patentable.

. Requirements for an invention

As patent systems have gradually become uniform due to multinational treaties, Patent Acts of most countries have focused on international harmony. Only a few countries in the world have defined concepts of invention through their Patent Acts. If we applied the concept of invention in the Patent Act, we could apply the provisions of the Act more clearly. It is difficult, however, to implement a strict concept of invention to various highly skilled and modern scientific technologies.

Regardless of such pros and cons, the Korean Patent Act, in order to promote clarity, defines an invention as a: “highly skilled thing as a technological creation of ideas using the law of nature” under Paragraph 1, Article 2 of the Act’ this seems to be based upon the definition of Aller Kohler.

1. Utilization of the law of nature

A. Law of nature

“Law of nature” refers to a certain unchangeable and unavoidable law taking place in the natural world that is the reason for the occurrence of a phenomenon in the natural world. This may include laws such as the law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, and the law of energy conservation. On the contrary, laws contrived or discovered through the intellectual activities of human beings, academic laws, or artificial regulations and so forth shall not be included in the laws of nature.

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B. Utilization of the law of nature

“Laws of nature” are not subject to discovery or invention. However, note that, in order to become an invention under the Patent Act, it is apparent that an invention will be governed by a “law of nature”. One salient example against the law of nature is the nonrepetitive permanent exercise substance premised on permanent exercise.

To make use of the law of nature means to apply the law of cause and effect in the context of natural science. Utilization means that the whole of the law is used rather than just a part in an invention.

In addition, an invention shall have applicability and repetitiveness; that is, the invention uses unavoidable laws of nature. Therefore it may be repeated and expropriated by a third party under the same conditions. However, 100% certainty of repetitiveness is not required. Less than normal rates of repetition for pioneer inventions are allowed. If the invention’s repeatable success is extremely low but it is deemed fairly certain to be attainable at a certain level, it may be deemed as having repetitiveness.

Even though an inventor is not fully aware of all laws of nature that he is making use of with his invention, the invention, if proved to use laws of nature in the end, shall be deemed an invention for purposes of the Patent Act even though the invention may be created without any recognition of the laws of nature.

As far as laws of nature are concerned, there is a debate in the intelligence information era of the 21st century regarding new technology in the field of computer software and Business Method (BM) patents. Software includes, but is not limited to, a system plan, flow chart, or a manual that discloses a method of how to use a computer as a system that creates and operates a program. A program means a combination of command language for conducting data processing in the computer whether it is in use of any laws of nature or not.

A program is considered similar to calculating a formula. As an expression of man’s intellectual process in the existing law, application for a program itself is rejected on the basis of not utilizing a law of nature. Examples of rejected applications for programs include cases where the program is a method or a device that increases or controls the capacity of hardware as a distinguished type of hardware and apparatus or media that is capable of computer decoding.

In addition, BM patents belong in the category of computer software related inventions. They are combined as operating methods and computer technologies on the internet to protect various operating methods or business ideas with patents operated through the internet. At present, pure business models conducted by social norms, mutual agreements, human psychological judgment or administrative authorities’ action due to artificial determination shall not be admitted as a law of nature invention. If a software application program is realized in combination with hardware using internet, it shall be deemed to use a law of nature.

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2. Technical idea

A. Technology

The dictionary defines technology as “a method or means which applies the theory learned academically.” This definition includes talents or crafts in technical art. In the natural science field it means, “a method or means that applies science to allow mankind to improve the nature for their living.” This second definition of technology includes technology in the human and social science fields, as well as in the natural science field.

However, “technology” under the Patent Act is restricted to technology using laws of nature with concrete means with demonstrating applicability and repetitiveness. It means that with this technology any third party having an average of level of understanding in the technological field will be able to attain the same result. In addition, there needs to be objectiveness of technology in the sense that ability, performance technology, and each technique in sports are not included in various technologies under the Patent Act.

B. Technical idea

Invention shall be a technical idea. The term “idea” means an abstract Idea or a concept rather than a concrete shape. “Technical idea” means a specified idea that has not attained a technical level that would allow it to be concretely applied industrially. In other words, it means an intangible concept existing inside the shape combined via technological means. If, for example, the inventor designs a vehicle for carrying coal in a circular cone in order to level center of gravity, the design would be deemed an idea to level the center of gravity, not the shape of a circular cone itself,. Otherwise, a patent to protect the invention would be an empty right.

In addition, technical ideas shall not be abstract, but concretized and shall be applicable in the future. Accordingly, in a case where there is a theme or conception without a concretization problemsolving method or it is deemed to attain its goal with such method regardless of there being a problemsolving method, it shall be deemed as an incomplete invention.

3. Skillfulness of creation

A. Creation

Invention shall be a “creation” of a technical idea. A “creation” is different from a discovery. A creation is something that never existed before while a discovery is making known something that had already exist. As a matter of fact, “invention of use” discovers a specific property of a material and its exclusive use is based upon discovery of the property of the material and is included in the category of invention distinguished from a simple discovery that is recognized directly from the five senses of the body.

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Although there are many arguments over whether creativity should require newlyemerged novelty or nonobviousness, such requirements have no advantage where patentability judgments are based on novelty and inventive steps. Accordingly, even though novelty is not included when objectively judged, the invention which is deemed creative by a party shall be deemed an invention anyway.

B. High skillfulness

According to the definition of invention, to invent a creation, such creation shall be “highly skillful”. However, “highly skillful” (high skillfulness) is judged not by objective criteria but by a subjective criteria; this traces back to the intention that distinguishes invention under the Patent Act from that of the utility model from the Utility Model Act. In short, utility design omits the term of “highly skilled” as seen in the context of “using the law of nature technological creation of ideas.”

4. Relation between invention and discovery

Invention and discovery share requirements of introduction and application of novelty. However, invention is a creation by novelty whereas discovery is finding all or part of whole that have existed before.

Nonetheless, discovery creates many inventions. Inventions tend to promote new discovery. In particular, the biggest problem between invention and discovery for patents in practice is the requirement for its use and application.

Invention of use means “invention attributed to a new discovery of specific use belonging to the material.” Therefore, patentability is deemed admitted where it is recognized that the material is found to have a new use that has not been known in the electric or mechanic field unlike other fields such as the chemical field since its material property is multifaceted. Accordingly, invention of use means an “invention of the materials applying a new use to an originally nonpatentable material.”

. Types of invention

1. Categories of invention

Invention is classified into invention of material and invention of a method pursuant to specifications of such invention. “Invention of material” means concretization of a technological creation of ideas to give it a shape, including, but not limited to, product, apparatus (mechanics, device, facility, etc), creation and material. On the contrary, “invention of a method” means concretization of technological creation of ideas into a certain method, and is classified into a method to produce material and another method. The categories of invention shall not be interpreted just by words of claim of the patent but also by the substantiality of invention.

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A method of material and invention of a method are different in the effect of a patent right pursuant to its inventive expropriate type (Act Article 23, Article 94).

2. Invention of material

Invention of material means concretization of a type of material, an invention without having a lapse of a time limit. Among them, invention of product or apparatus means concretization of a tangible type, which combines elements forming space and takes a technological effect. On the other hand, invention of material means a single element material manufactured by a chemical method or a nuclear transformation method.

3. Invention of a method

Invention of a method is affected by the lapse of a time limit, and its constituent elements are a prearranged stage for expropriating its method. Invention of a method under the Patent Act is classified into a method producing the material and other methods, such as use and handling.

SECTION 2. REQUIREMENTS FOR PATENTABILITY

Even if an invention meets the definition of invention in Article 2.1 of the Patent Act (“the Act”) that says an “invention means the highly advanced creation of a technical idea using the laws of nature”, it still has to meet the requirements of industrial applicability, novelty and inventive step prescribed in Article 29 of the Act in order to be granted protection as a patent under the Act.

. Industrial applicability

1. Meaning

Since the purpose of Patent Act is to contribute to industrial development, in order for an invention to be patented, it has to have industrial applicability. Thus, an invention which cannot be used industrially or which can only be used in areas other than industry cannot be patented.

2. Scope of industry

Article 1.3 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property interprets industrial property in the broadest sense and shall apply not only to industry and commerce proper, but likewise to agricultural and extractive industries and to all manufactured or natural products. Also, Article 33.4 of the Patent Cooperation Treaty provides that

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“industry shall be understood in its broadest sense, as in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.” 1) Therefore, “industry” in Article 29.1 of the Patent Act is generally interpreted as including not only primary or secondary industries such as agriculture, stockfarming, forestry, fishery, mining and manufacturing but tertiary industries such as commerce, finance, transportation and service industry.

Some argue that service industry is excluded from “industry” mentioned above because it includes little technical idea using the laws of nature, but the general reasoning of opposition is made on the ground that with industrial development in mind, the scope of protection is ever being expanded to include business models. However, inventions in the medical area are treated differently because they deal with the human body.

3. Applicability

With respect to the concept of industrial applicability, there are various theories: an invention has to be suitable to use in industrial management; an invention which can only be used academically or experimentally is excluded; an invention has to be a technology directly related to manufacturing of goods; etc. It would be reasonable to exclude only the invention which in its content is not actually applicable to the industrial field or which is purely academic or experimental.

Article 33.4 of the Patent Cooperation Treaty provides, “for the purposes of the international preliminary examination, a claimed invention shall be considered industrially applicable if, according to its nature, it can be made or used (in the technological sense) in any kind of industry.” Industrial applicability is a requirement for a patent because the purpose of Patent Act is industrial development through technological progress and thus if industrial applicability is lacking, then it should be excluded. Since an invention only needs to have applicability in any industry other than medicine, industrial applicability is rarely an issue as a condition of patent.

4. Medical service

Medical industry, which is engaged in the treatment, examination and prevention of human disease, includes drugs for treatment or prognosis and methods of treatment, prognosis and operation using drugs and related medical equipment. Among them, drugs and medical equipment are patentable but medical methods dealing with humans are not.2) The reason is that medical method is about what a doctor does with respect to the patients’

1) Article 33(4), PCT‘“Industry” shall be understood in its broadest sense, as in the Paris Convention

for the Protection of Industrial Property’ 2) Types of industrially applicable inventions (See the Examination Guideline of KIPO)

Invention of a method to operate or prognose human being, i.e., medical treatment, is not industrially applicable. However, products to be used for such invention (medical equipment, drug, etc.) are industrially applicable.

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lives and exercising patent at the expense of the patients’ lives is ethically unacceptable. Also, since drugs and medical equipment are patentable, inventors are protected accordingly and doing otherwise will raise medical cost.

The Patent Act does not directly mention inventions of medical methods dealing with the human body but Articles 29.1, 32 and 96.2 applies to this issue in practice. That is, an invention of a medical method dealing with the human body is not patentable on the ground that it is not “industrially applicable” (Article 29.1) and against public policy (Article 32). Also, patent for invention of drugs manufactured by combining two or more drugs or invention of method for such manufacturing does not cover prescription activity or prescribed drug provided for in the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act. (Article 96.2)

KIPO’s Industry Sector Examination Standards (Medical Sector) recognizes as industrially applicable, invention of a method to treat, prognose or prevent disease of mammals except humans or promote their growth. On the other hand, with respect to an invention on human body wastes, invention of method in which substances are applied to human body, excretion or blood are extracted and drugs are made from them, and an invention in which drugs are made from what is already collected, removed, discharged from human body such as blood, serum, urine, feces, sap, placenta, tumor, hair and nail are recognized as applicable to industry. However, invention of method in which drug ingredients are made inside human body using body specific material or method in which such drug ingredients are extracted outside are not recognized as applicable to industry.

Among other countries, Japan has the same provisions as those of the Patent Act and Examination Standard regarding invention of medical methods, while Article 52.4 of the European Patent Convention denies patent to “methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body” from patentability, because these methods are regarded as not susceptible of industrial application.

Method to process what is extracted from human body (blood, urine, skin, hair, etc.) or method to collect data by analyzing those is an industrially applicable invention. However, if processing the above is on the condition that what is extracted is returned for treatment purpose to the person from whom it is extracted (e.g., hemodialysis), it is a medical treatment and thus not an industrially applicable invention
Method, even though it can generally be used to operate, treat and prognose human being, if it is stated in the claim to be restricted to animals, it is industrially applicable. (90 Hu 250 decision, Supreme Court, Mar 12, 1991)

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. Novelty of invention

1. Meaning

The goal of the Patent Act is to promote the use of invention by making it public and thus to develop the industry. Since granting monopoly over an invention already known to the public may impede the industry, novelty of invention is the most basic requirement of patentability. How novelty is defined can have great influence on a nation’s industry. Therefore, the definition may differ depending on different countries and eras.

Novelty in the Patent Act requires that an invention’s technological creation be new in comparison to past technology or prior art and novelty is intended to exclude the same technology as prior art.

Article 29.1 of the Patent Act does not define novelty positively but provides that an invention that has industrial applicability has novelty unless it is publicly known or used or it is described in a distributed publication or published through telecommunication means.

2. Criteria for time and place in deciding novelty

A. Criteria for time

The criteria regarding time in deciding novelty is the time for filing an application for a patent.3) Thus, if a person announces and makes public an invention in the morning and someone else files an application for patent in the afternoon that same day, the invention lacks novelty. However, such a case is extremely rare.

B. Criteria for place

In the past, whether or not an invention was publicly known or used was decided only domestically while public notice by documentation or telecommunication was decided globally. With the advance of telecommunication technology, however, an invention known overseas other than by publication can easily be proved and if an invention publicly worked overseas can be patented domestically, it is against the purpose of patent law that an invention has to be new in order to be patentable. The Patent Act revised on March 3, 2006 denies patent for technology publicly known or used overseas.

Different standards apply in different countries in deciding that an invention is not novel because it is publicly known, have been used or published in some place. According to the revised Patent Act, an invention lacks novelty if before the filing of

3) Order in time of the applications is based on the ‘date.’ (Article 36 of Patent Act)

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the application the invention is publicly known, publicly used or published, domestically or overseas, or if the invention is publicly through telecommunication by means of internet websites operated by central or local governments or publicly funded research institutes in foreign countries or international organization and thus has become available to the public.

3. Cause of losing novelty

A. Publicly known invention

Public knowledge in Article 29.1.1 of the Act refers to the state in which the general public knows or is capable of knowing, and a publicly known invention is an invention not hidden. Being out of secret is enough to establish as a publicly known state; the number of people knowing is irrelevant. If an invention is disclosed to a person who is obligated to keep it confidential, it is not public knowledge. But if that person reveals it to a third person in violation of his duty, it can become public. Also if the above mentioned duty of confidentiality loses effect it will also become public, and if the person uses the invention, then the invention becomes a publicly used invention, making it difficult to distinguish between whether it is public knowledge or public work.

There are different opinions with respect to the issue of whether or not public knowledge requires ‘actual’ knowledge. Since it may be difficult to prove whether a third party ‘actually’ had knowledge, it would be reasonable to conclude that public knowledge is the state in which the general public is capable of knowing the invention. Cases on this issue hold that a thesis is not in the public domain at the time of printing, submitting to the university or approval by the thesis review committee unless it has already been made public. The thesis becomes public knowledge when it passes the committee and is then published and delivered to the public or to university libraries or distributed to many unspecified people so that the general public is able to access its content.

B. Publicly used invention

Publicly used invention provided for in Article 29.1 of the Patent Act means an invention which those skilled in the art used before the filing of the patent application that would thus make the invention easy to know about. That is, it is an invention which can be used easily and repeatedly without supplementing, adding or further developing the technical idea. Thus, even if an invention was used by a third party, the invention may be deemed to not have been publicly used if those skilled in the art was not able to easily know the contents of the invention. On the other hand, during the construction or at the opening ceremony of a factory in which machinery is installed, an invention

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can be deemed a publicly used invention before the filing of the patent application if it was used in circumstances where the general public was able to know the content of the invention and measures to maintain confidentiality were not taken. 4)

C. Invention publicly known by documentation:

Article 29.1.2 of the Act provides that an invention described in a publication distributed in the Republic of Korea or in a foreign country before the filing of a patent application or inventions published through telecommunication lines as prescribed by Presidential Decree lacks novelty and thus lacks patentability as well.

(1) Concept of publication

Publication means document, picture, photo and other informationtransmitting medium copied for the purpose of being opened to the public by a mechanical or chemical method such as printing.5) It also includes not only printed material but handwritten or typewritten material. While some deny that microfilm, CDROM or disc is publication, it would be more persuasive to acknowledge them as publication, considering that, in today’s information society, they transmit information as clearly and securely as traditional printed publications. Finally, although copies may differ from the regular publication in that copies of the original are custommanufactured, for the purpose of determining novelty copies are considered publication as well.

A publication has to be intended for the public and excludes secret publications. However, notforsale or limited edition books can be considered publications if they are copied documents which are open to the public and which includes information.

(2) Distribution

(A) Meaning

Distribution means the state in which a publication is delivered so that it can be read or accessed by the public, but does not require that someone has actually read it.6) The courts hold that a publication is distributed once it has been registered for receipt by the library even if it has not been displayed on the bookshelf because by that time someone with interest is able to access the publication, enabling the general public to be aware of the content of the publication.

4) See 99 Hu 6596 decision (Patent Court, Sep 21, 2000) 5) 98 Heo 1945 decision (Supreme Court, Sep 18, 1998) 6) 83 Hu 40 decision (Supreme Court, Dec 23, 1986)

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(B) Time of distribution of the publication

1) Where publication date is written

A) If only the year is written, last day of the year

B) If the year and month are written, last day of the month

C) If the year, month and date are written, the date is presumed the publication date

2) Where publication date is not written

A) If a foreign publication has a clear import date, it is presumed to have been distributed at a normal rate of time that is required to import into Korea before the import date.

B) If another publication includes review, excerpt, catalogue, etc. of the relevant publication, the distribution date is presumed to be from the other publication.

C) If a later edition of the publication has date of first edition written on it, that date is presumed to be distribution date. However, in the case of later edition, relevant parts of the first and later edition have to be same.

D) If there are other plausible grounds, distribution date should be presumed from those.

(C) If the filing date and publication date are the same, unless the time of filing is definitely later than the time of publication, the invention does not lose novelty.

(3) Described invention

Described invention means an invention whose content is described in a publication so that those skilled in the art are easily able to use it. For an invention to be described in a publication, at a minimum, what constitutes the invention has to be disclosed. Thus, if only a photo of an invention’s exterior structure is shown, the invention is not considered to be described in a publication because the content of the invention is not recognizable.7)

7) 98 Heo 1945 decision (Patent Court, Spe 18, 1998)

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D. Invention publicly known on the Internet

(1) Meaning

With the rapid progress of IT technology, people can freely disclose information on the Internet but technical information disclosed on the Internet can fall under Article

29.1.1 of the Act only if proved or confirmed. Such information, however, did not belong to the distributed publication category of Article 29.1.2 of the previous Act so the Act was revised on February 3, 2001 to recognize ‘an invention made available to the public through electronic telecommunication lines prescribed by Presidential Decree’ as prior art, without separate proof and confirmation, like the invention described in a publication.

However, technical information published through telecommunication lines such as the Internet can easily be altered and is difficult to put a publication date and secure reliability. So, the revised Act prescribes reliable telecommunication lines, which include Internet, BBS, email and other devices which can transmit and receive data through wired, wireless, electric or magnetic means.

(2) Relevant provisions

(A)
In order for Article 29.1.2 of the Act to apply, relevant technology has to be published by telecommunication lines prescribed by Presidential Decree and the public has to be able to use it. Thus, an invention published on the KIPO intranet is not deemed open to the public for use.
(B)
Telecommunication lines prescribed by Presidential Decree for the purpose of securing reliability of technical information published through telecommunication lines such as the Internet include telecommunication lines operated by: central, local or foreign governments or international organization; public school provided for in Article 3 of Higher Education Act or foreign public university; domestic or foreign public research institutes; a juridical person set up for the purpose of conducting patent information related task and designated and announced by the Commissioner of KIPO.
(C)
Information published through telecommunication lines other than those prescribed by Presidential Decree is not prior art as provided for in Article 29.1.2 of the Act but can be prior art of publicly known technology as provided for in Article 29.1.1 of the Act, if its content and publication date are proved.
(D)
‘Invention available to the public for use’ is an invention which is open to the general public. Thus, invention inaccessible through common search engines or which has a password for login can be prior art only if the general public has access.
(E)
If date of publication by telecommunication lines is not clearly indicated, in the absence of proof to the contrary, the information is presumed published on the last day of the year if only the year is indicated and on the next day of the last day of the month if the month and year are indicated.

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4. Determining novelty

A. Principle

In determining novelty of an invention, invention stated in the claim is examined to determine if it falls under each subparagraph of Article 29.1 of the Act by comparing it with the ‘reference invention.’ An invention is not novel if the reference invention (which corresponds one on one with the invention stated in the claim) meets all elements of the invention stated in the claim. Novelty is different from the inventive step requirement (where the invention stated in the claim is compared with the combination of multiple reference inventions). This is called the Single Source Anticipation Rule in U. S. patent law.

Also, in deciding identicalness which belongs in the novelty category, it is not acceptable to compare the reference invention and the claim of invention applied for the patent simply by expression or format stated. The two have to be compared on the basis of their essences of the technical idea inherent in the claim. Even if only ‘part’ of the technical idea is identical, unless the remaining part constitutes a separate invention, the two inventions are deemed to be identical.8)

B. Invention stated in the claim

(1) The determination of an invention should be based on what is stated in the claim.

(2)
If the claim is clear, the invention will be acknowledged as stated in the claim and the terms in the claim shall have its usual meaning. However, even though the claim is clearly stated, if the terms in the claim are defined or explained in a separate description or drawing, the definition or explanation shall be considered.
However, just because an example of the sub concept, which belongs to the concept of the terms in the claim, is included in the description or drawing does not mean they constitute the aforementioned definition or explanation.
(3)
Even if the patent claim itself is not clearly stated, when the description or drawing renders the meaning clear, such description or drawing shall be considered when acknowledging an invention.
(4)
What is stated in the description or drawing but not in the claim is disregarded in interpreting the claim.
(5)
If the description or drawing does not render a claim clear, the invention stated in the claim is not acknowledged, and can be denied a patent on the ground that the scope of claim is not properly stated.

8) 93 Hu 1940 decision (Supreme Court, Jun 9, 1995)

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C. Reference invention

(1) Publicly known invention

A publicly known invention is an invention known or knowable to the general domestic public before the filing of a patent application.

(2) Publicly worked invention

A publicly worked invention is one which is worked while the invention is known or knowable to the public before the filing of the patent application.

(3) Invention described in distributed publication

An invention described in distributed publication will include not only the invention described in publication but also what is extracted from that invention by those skilled in the art using common technical knowledge at the time of publication.

D. Method of determining novelty

(1)
Sameness and difference between the invention stated in the claim and the reference invention shall be collected by comparing elements of both.
(2)
If there is no difference between the aforementioned inventions, then the invention stated in the claim will be deemed not to be novel. However, if there is a difference, then the invention will be deemed novel.
E. Caution in determining novelty
(1)
With respect to the claim including a statement which tries to specify a matter, if the invention stated in the claim and the reference invention are expressed in genus and species, novelty shall be determined as follows because an invention and the claim which the inventor claims as his invention have to match. That is, if the inventor claims a narrower scope than his invention, he is deemed to relinquish part of his invention; an inventor is not allowed to claim a broader scope than his invention as it is a violation of the principle of social contract.
(A)
If the invention stated in the claim is expressed in genus and the invention stated in the reference invention is expressed in species, the former lacks novelty because the inventor is claiming more than his invention.
(B)
If the invention stated in the claim is expressed in species and the invention stated in the reference invention is expressed in genus, the former is acknowledged novelty. However, if the latter can be extracted from the former using general technical knowledge at the time of filing the application, the former is denied novelty.
(2)
Novelty has to be determined by comparison with a single reference invention, while an inventive step has to be determined by comparison with a combination of multiple reference inventions.

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F. Examples where novelty is denied because of substantial identicalness

Novelty is not denied only in the case when an invention is identical to a publicly known and used technology. Courts hold that even if an invention derives from a prior, publicly known and used technology, when the similarity to publicly known and used technology is obvious and thus the invention cannot be deemed a new technology, novelty itself may be denied before the issue of inventive step is explored, including substantially identical inventions in the novelty category.9) Inventions are substantially identical if change in form, location, sequence, proportion or direction does not cause function or effect to change or if elements are divided or combined.

. Inventive step of invention

1. Meaning

Inventive step10) is an academic concept that means the degree by which those skilled in the art11) cannot easily invent given the technical standard at the time of the patent application. A novel invention may lack inventive step and granting a monopoly protection to such invention, which belongs to the realm of free technology, is against the purpose of patent law; patent law’s purpose is to promote technological progress. Many countries, including Korea in Article 29.2 of the Act, impose this requirement, despite some differences in language.

9) See 91 Ma 540 decision (Supreme Court, Jun 2, 1992) 10) Section 103 of the US Patent Act uses the term ‘nonobvious subject matter,’ while Atricle 56

of the EPC uses the trem ‘Inventive step.’ 11) See 91 Ma 540 decision (Supreme Court, Jun 2, 1992)

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2. Relevant provisions

Article 29.2 of the Act provides that “notwithstanding paragraph (1), where an invention referred to in each subparagraph of paragraph (1) (*publicly known or used invention) could easily have been made before the filing of a patent application by a person with ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains, the patent for such an invention may not be granted.”

A. Art to which the invention pertains

With the rapid progress of technology causing technological areas to specialize and segmentalize, more and more technologies are used in areas outside of their original purposes; sometimes these technologies are used by those skilled in the art of distant technical areas.

‘Art to which the invention pertains’ means in principle the industrial area to which the invention is applied but also includes the technological area which is grasped by the nature or function of all or part of the invention’s elements. Thus, it is not limited by the name of the invention which is stated in the description, but it means the area to which the technical idea, which is the essence of invention, belongs to; all in consideration of the purpose, constitution and effect of the invention as a whole. In practice, this means the technical scope of the relevant class in the International Patent Classification (IPC).

B. Those skilled in the art

The criteria for determining inventive step are those skilled in the art in the relevant technical areas at the time of the patent application. ‘Those skilled in the art’ is an abstract concept, meaning an average expert who can understand common technical knowledge of the relevant technical area. Thus the patent examiner shall not determine inventive step subjectively but determine objectively from the perspective of those skilled in the art.

3. Theories on determination of inventive step

With respect to the method or criteria of determining inventive step, there are three theories which place emphasis on the purpose, constitution or effect of the invention respectively. Each theory has its own strengths and weaknesses so inventive step has to be determined considering the purpose, constitution or effect as a whole.

A. Constitution centered theory

The purpose of an invention is the task an inventor intends to solve and the effect of an invention is the result, both of which are based on the inventor’s subjective

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perception. Meanwhile, constitution of an invention is concrete, can be objectively grasped and must be stated in the claim thus contrasting the invention to prior art. This theory holds that in determining inventive step, difference in constitution between the invention stated in the claim and what is publicly known has to be grasped and depending on the difficulty in constitution, the purpose and effect of invention have to be considered. According to this theory, if an invention clearly lacks difficulty in constitution, it does not have inventive step despite the difference in purpose or effect, and if on the contrary an invention clearly has difficulty in constitution, it has inventive step even if the difference in purpose or effect is insignificant.

B. Effect centered theory

The purpose is the motive of invention; constitution is an instrument to achieve the task of the invention; and the effect which is achieved when constitution serves its purpose is the substance contributing to technological progress. Therefore, ease of selecting and combining elements of the invention has to be determined by the effect. That is, peculiarity of invention and remarkableness of effect have to be the criteria of inventive step.

C. Predictability theory

Invention is divided into stages. Stage one is where the purpose which is a technical desire to solve a task is established; stage two is where the technical means is constituted by selecting and combining the elements; and stage three is where the effect derived from constitution is actually verified. This theory holds that for each of the above stages, predictability of purpose, constitution and effect have to be the criteria for determining novelty. The theory also holds that the stages have to be treated equally.

4. Method of determining inventive step

Since invention protects the combined technical means of invention, inventive step determination is determining the difficulty of an invention’s technical constitution and is subject to the examiner’s discretion. However, the discretion must not be arbitrary but rather it must be objective thereby requiring that underlying facts be offered as proof.

A. Invention which is the object of inventive step determination

Invention which is the object of inventive step determination is an invention stated in the claim which has novelty. If there are two claims or more, inventive step has to be determined for each claim.

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B. Method of determining inventive step

(1) Process of inventive step determination First, invention stated in the claim is examined by the same method as in novelty. Second, reference invention is examined by the same method as in novelty. Third, invention stated in the claim and the reference invention are compared and same

ness and difference are extracted therefrom.

Fourth, whether or not invention stated in the claim can obviously be derived by a technical standard in the relevant area at the time of patent application is articulated.

Fifth, if the above can be articulated, the invention lacks inventive step, but if on

the contrary the above cannot be articulated, the invention has inventive step.

(2) In the establishing of logic, sameness and difference of the elements must be clarified by comparing the reference invention to the invention stated in the claim. Then the following must be examined. With respect to difference one must inquire whether or not the reference invention implies the invention stated in the claim; the commonality of tasks, use and function of the inventions can yield perspective of the motivation. Also, whether or not the effect of invention stated in the claim is better than that of the reference invention due to difference in constitution can yield perspective of how to determine inventive step. For example, even though the invention stated in the claim can be easily done by those skilled in the art from the combination of multiple reference inventions, if the invention stated in the claim has an unexpected and a new effect, then the inventive step may be acknowledged.

C. Caution in the inventive step determination

Criteria for determining the inventive step provided by the Act are whether or not those skilled in the art can easily invent publicly known technology. This is very abstract, so in order to obtain objective validity, the following has to be considered.

(1)
Most inventions are improvement inventions. They try to solve tasks or achieve a new and enhanced effect by combining publicly known elements, so when determining inventive step by combining two documentations or more, even if the elements are already known, whether or not the combination has technical difficulty has to be examined.
(2)
If the invention stated in the claim uses as prior art a reference invention from different technical areas, objective validity such as the relationship between the areas, commonality in task solving and functional identicalness must be examined.
(3)
If a publicly known or used technology 12) is the main reason for rejection, then relevant documentation must be offered to the applicant as many as possible. Reference invention offered for determining novelty or inventive step does not have to be expressed clearly in its technical constitution, and although the invention is incomplete or is expressed unclearly due to a shortage of data, it can still be considered reference invention if those skilled in the art can easily grasp the content of the technology from the past. 13)
(4)
If invention of a matter itself has an inventive step, then invention of manufacturing method or use of the matter in principle has an inventive step.
(5)
Invention stated in the claim must be examined as a combination of the whole. Just because each element such as elements of improvement invention or utility invention are publicly known does not mean that the invention stated in the claim lacks inventive step. But when elements of an invention are not systematically combined but simply compiled into a collection and there is no part of the invention that has an inventive step, then the invention will be deemed to lack inventive step.
(6)
If favorable effect of an invention is not expressly stated in the description, then it cannot be considered in principle. 14) However, if those skilled in the art can easily infer effect from the purpose or constitution of the invention, assertions about the effect in the submitted argument and evidence (test results or scores) may be considered. 15)

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5. Type of inventive step determination

A. collective invention

A collective invention to which most inventions belong to is a collection of publicly known technology. A collective invention which lacks inventive step is called aggregation and a collective invention which has inventive step is called combination.

With respect to an invention which collects and combines past technologies and improves them, the Korean Supreme Court16) held that inventive step is lacking unless there is special hardship in the process of combining, the invention produces a greater effect

12) ‘Publicly known technology’ is a technology which is generally known in relevant technical area,

has a multitude of documentations and is so well known in the industry that examples need not

be shown. ‘Publicly worked technology’ is a publicly known technology which is widely used. 13) 96 Hu 1514 decision (Supreme Court, Aug 26, 1997) 14) 96 Hu 221 decision (Supreme Court, May 30, 1997) 15) 98 Heo 8571 decision (Patent Court, May 20, 1999) 16) 96 Hu 221 decision (Supreme Court, May 30, 1997)

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than expected from prior art, and those skilled in the art cannot easily invent, or a new technical method is added.

B. Replacement invention & conversion invention

Replacement invention replaces an element of a publicly known invention with an element of another publicly known invention in the same technical area. Conversion invention brings publicly known inventions from a different area and has inventive step only if there is a hardtoexpect effect or technical difficulty in constitution, from the perspective of those skilled in the art. Therefore, a replaced element has to be publicly known, be obvious to those skilled in the art and have substantially the same effect.

C. Use invention

Use invention is an invention derived from new discovery of certain specific use of a matter. Inventive step is acknowledged if the use is novel, effect is remarkably improved, and change of use is easy for those skilled in the art.

D. Utilization invention

(1) Utilization invention is, according to the common gist theory, which is the prevailing theory, an invention which has an additional element to be patented, a prior invention and that prior invention is patented. According to the courts,17) if prior invention and later invention have use relationship, then the later invention belongs to the prior one. In such a relationship, the invention of machine, equipment, etc, the later invention adds a new technical element to the gist of the prior invention. For invention of method, especially manufacturing of chemicals, intermediate substance or catalyst are added with the goal of interaction so it is very difficult to prove that a substance used in prior invention remains the same after the interaction. Also, in chemical manufacturing, use or nonuse of a catalyst has a vastly different technical idea. Thus, between manufacturing method mentioning catalyst and patented manufacturing method not mentioning catalyst, even if they have the same starting and ending substance, the latter is not using prior invention unless use of catalyst is simply an addition to a meaningless process.

Also, recent Supreme Court and Patent Court rulings recognize utilization invention using equivalent material.18)

17) 90 Hu 1499 decision (Supreme Court, Nov 26, 1991) 18) Supreme Court decisions 98 Hu 522 (Aug 21, 2001), 2001 Hu 393 (Sep 7, 2001); 2001 Heo

5466 decision (Patent Court, May 16, 2002)

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(2) With respect to equivalence and use relationship, equivalence means the case where part of the elements of invention stated in the claim is replaced with another, equivalent element and the invention is deemed identical to prior invention. Equivalence is a matter of identicalness to prior invention, while utilization invention means an invention which includes all elements of the claim, adds additional element and is patented. Both belong in the scope of patent right of prior invention.

E. Selection invention

Selection invention means, in chemistry, an invention in which unspecified species are selected as an element of a publicly known invention of which all or part of the elements are expressed in genus. Here, species belong to genus and thus is the same as a known technology in principle but if invention in species is not detailed in a publicly known invention in genus, selecting the unspecified ones and combining them can bring about inventive step if there is a special effect that is unexpected from prior art.

Selection invention can belong to utilization invention because selection invention and publicly known invention expressed in genus have basic tasks and technical instruments in common and only have minor differences. But not all selection inventions have relationship of use, which has to be determined according to the scope and content of technology of prior application.

F. Number or formrestricted invention

This invention comes from limiting the number from a publicly known technology or changing or limiting form or arrangement. It lacks inventive step unless the change or limitation has technical difficulty or significantly increases effect of the invention.

Among them, number restricted invention is an invention expressed in numbers by specifying the length, weight, temperature, angle, combination ratio, etc. of the elements. Here, if the number is within a specific range provided by publicly known technology, then the invention lacks inventive step but if the publicly known technology does not provide numbers or provide different numbers, inventive step can be a contested issue. In such invention, if those skilled in the art use publicly known technology, they will set an optimal condition. So, unless there is something special about the numbers, the invention lacks inventive step because those skilled in the art could use it. In particular, effect of number restricted invention must not be expected from publicly known technology, so specifying the number must have technical significance and restriction must have critical significance in order to gain inventive step. However, specified numbers of the invention exceeding technical common sense does not have a particular critical significance.

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6. Nonpublicly known invention

A. Meaning

Novelty is determined based on the time of the patent application so if the application is filed after an invention is made public, the invention loses novelty. However, under some circumstance where the person making an invention public and the person filing application are the same, the invention is deemed not to lose novelty. (Novelty deemed. Article 30 of the Act)

If Article 29.1 is applied too strictly without allowing exception, it can be harsh on inventors and harm industrial development, so certain inventions which have lost novelty are given relief by relevant provisions in order to protect inventors, unless they harm the general public.

In the past, when a person with the right to obtain a patent conducts tests on the invention, publishes the invention in printed matter, publishes the invention through telecommunication lines as prescribed by Presidential Decree or presents the invention in writing before an academic organization as prescribed by ordinance of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the invention was not denied patent. However, the revised Act (Mar 3, 2006) did away with restriction on the form of publication because publication form other than previously allowed, such as a website, increased in number and some products are launched and advertised in overseas market and thus not able to be patented. In sum, all activities by the applicant who makes the invention publicly known within six months prior to the filing becomes excluded from the grounds for rejection, starting with filings from March 3, 2006.

B. Invention which can be deemed to have novelty

(1)
When, pursuant to the intention of a person with the right to obtain a patent, the invention falls under either subparagraph (public knowledge, etc.) of Article 29.1, the patentable invention is recognized as being novel, as long as the patent application is filed within six months of the applicable date. However, if filing or registering is announced domestically or overseas, then according to the statutes or treaty, the above will not apply. (Article 30.1.1)
(2)
When, against the intention of a person with the right to obtain a patent, the invention falls under either subparagraph (public knowledge, etc.) of Article 29.1, the patentable invention is recognized as being novel. (Article 30.1.2)

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C. Legal effect

(1) Relationship to novelty An invention identical to a publicly known invention is not deemed novel.

(2) Relationship to inventive step

When an invention (A+a) differs from a publicly known invention (A), even if the latter is one which those skilled in the art can easily invent, the latter is not deemed a prior art. That is, an improvement invention is not placed at a disadvantage by a publicly known invention in terms of determining novelty but is used as prior art with respect to the invention of a third party.

D. Submitting written evidence

In order to have relevant invention treated as nonpublic, a written application has to be filed to the Commissioner of KIPO simultaneously with the patent application. Documents proving the above have to be submitted to the same, within 30 days of the patent application. (Article 30 of the Act)

E. Caution

(1)
In Article 30, filing date for the invention not considered to be publicly known does not take effect retroactively and the invention is not deemed to have applied when novelty was lost. But, it merely deems the invention to maintain novelty of losing the novelty. A third party filing (except for forged filing) before the inventor has priority because of the first to file rule. Thus, it is best to file as early as possible.
(2)
Article 30 only applies to applications filed within 6 months of public knowledge (domestic or overseas). Therefore, in order to claim treaty based priority and enjoy the benefit of Article 30, the application has to be filed in Korea within 6 months of public knowledge in the first country.

. Identicalness of invention

Identicalness of invention is an important concept throughout patent law, and is an important standard in determining the issues of novelty, inventive step, expanded firsttofile, firsttofile and infringement. This section covers identicalness issues regarding expanded firsttofile and firsttofile only.

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1. Expanded firsttofile application

A. Meaning

The basic rule of patent law is ‘one patent for each invention’ in which a single exclusive patent is granted to a single invention. Where two or more applications related to identical inventions are filed on different dates, only the applicant with the earlier filing date may obtain the patent for the invention based on the firstto fileprinciple regardless of the actual time of invention. Thus, if two applications have identical inventions stated in the claim(s), a patent cannot be granted to the later application according to Article 36 of the Act. However, when an invention identical to the one stated only in the description or drawing of a prior application is stated in the claim(s) of a later application before the prior application or registration is made public, the later applicant, in principle, can be patented and this is problematic. In order to solve this, a later application stating in its claim(s) that the same invention stated in a prior application whose application or registration was published shall not be patented according to Articles

29.3 and 29.4 of the Act. Those articles apply by expanding the scope of prior application, and determining identicalness in the socalled expanded prior application.

B. Relevant provisions

Where an application is filed for an invention that is identical to an invention or device described in the description or drawing(s) originally attached to another patent application that has already been laid open or published, or where the invention is identical to a utility model whose application has already been published, a patent may not be granted. However, if the inventor of the concerned patent application and the inventor of the other patent or utility model application are identical, or if the applicants of the above are identical at the time of filing, a patent may be granted.19)

C. Requirements for application

(1) In order for Article 29.3 of the Act to apply,

Filing time (or date for which priority is claimed) is later than that of the other (earlier) patent or utility model
The other (earlier) application or registration is published after the concerned (later) application
Invention stated in the claim(s) of the later application is stated in the initial description of the earlier application
Both inventions are identical

19) Article 29.3 of the Patent Act

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If the prior application is divisional or duplicated, the date of the divisional or duplicated application is deemed the filing date according to Article 52.2 or 53.2 of the Act. The reason for this is to prevent the filing date of divisional or duplicated application from moving back to the date of the first application whose description or drawing did not state the new technical items that are in the divisional or duplicated application.

If the prior application claims treatybased priority, its filing date is the day on which patent application was filed in the first country.

(2) In domestic prioritybased patent application, with regard to application of Articles

29.3 and 29.4 to prior and later applications,

Invention stated in both prior and later applications: prior application prevails
Invention stated in later, but not prior, application’s description: later application prevails
Invention stated in prior, but not later, application’s description: Articles 29.3 and 29.4 do not apply

(3) If earlier application is an international application designated for Korea

Earlier application is published internationally
Only when the invention stated in the claim(s) of the concerned (later) application is stated in the description or drawing of the earlier, international application, the earlier, international application shall rule

A later application has to be identical to the description or drawing of an international application filed on the day deemed as the international filing date according to Article

214.4 of the Patent Act or Article 71.4 of the Utility Model Act, or identical to the translation submitted or invention or utility model stated in the drawing on the day deemed as the international filing date according to Article 214.2 of the Patent Act or Article

71.2 of the Utility Model Act.

D. Exception

If prior application was filed before, but published (application or registration) after the filing of a later application and the two applications have the same inventors or applicants, then the issue of identicalness becomes moot.

Where all inventors as written in one application are completely or essentially identical to those of the other, both applications are deemed to have identical inventors. If inventors are not completely identical on paper, then the applicant has the burden of proof to show that the inventors are the same.

Furthermore, if there are two or more applicants, all the applicants have to be completely identical, and if the concerned application is an amended one, applicant of the original application shall be the applicant of the concerned application.

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E. Determining whether or not invention stated in the claim(s) is identical to an invention or device described in the description or drawing(s) originally attached to another patent application

(1)
Whether they are same or different is determined by comparing the invention stated in the claim and the reference invention. Two or more independent reference inventions shall not be combined when comparing.
(2)
If there is no difference, the inventions are identical. Even if there is difference, when technical idea belongs in the same category and the difference in constitution simply comes from addition, deletion or conversion of publicly known technology, and no new effect is expected, then they are deemed essentially identical. 20)
(3)
In the claim(s) for a subject matter specified by work, function and nature, if the invention in the claim(s) is stated as genus including reference invention, and reference invention is recognized as species of the invention in the claim(s), then the inventions are deemed to be identical.

2. Prior application

A. Meaning

Patent law provides the inventor with an exclusive right to use the patented invention for a certain period of time, in compensation for making the invention public. And in order to prevent rights from being overlapped, a single patent is granted for a single invention, which illustrates ‘one invention, one patent’ or ‘exclusion of double patent’ principles. With respect to the method of granting patents where multiple applications related to identical inventions are filed, there exist the firsttoinvent rule and firsttofile rule.

(1) Firsttoinvent rule and firsttofile rule

Firsttoinvent rule protects the first inventor and is ideal for promoting invention, but it is difficult to confirm who the first inventor is. Sometimes an inventor keeps the invention a secret for his own interest and in such cases the rights of the concerned parties of the invention can be unstable. On the other hand, the firsttofile rule decides rights based on the date of filing and helps enhance stability of the rights surrounding an invention. It encourages patent applications and suits the purpose of the patent system but can burden the inventors because they have to promptly file.

20) See 98 Hu 1013 decision (Supreme Court, Jun 1, 2001)

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Currently, most countries adopt the firsttofile rule which values legal stability. Korea adopts the firsttofile rule which is provided in the Patent Act, “where two or more applications related to the same invention are filed on different dates, only the applicant of the application with the earlier filing date may obtain a patent for the invention.”21)

(2) Criteria for time in determining prior versus later application

(A) Principle

In deciding which application is the first, filing date is the standard. Documents submitted to KIPO take effect the day on which they arrive at KIPO (arrival rule; Article

28.1 of the Act). However, application, demand and other documents submitted by mail is deemed to have arrived at the time of mailing, which is an exception. In the mailing rule, where the date stamp is clear, they are deemed to have been delivered on the date of the stamp, while where the date stamp is unclear, they are deemed to have been delivered on the date on which the mail was submitted to a post office, if the date is verified by a receipt.

The arrival rule, however, not the above, applies if applications to register patent and other related rights and documents concerning an international application under Article 2(vii) of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (referred to as “an international application”) are submitted by mail.

(B) Exception

In the firsttofile rule, there are some exceptions with respect to filing date. In some cases it is deemed earlier than actually filed while in other cases it is deemed later.

(3) Same day application

(A)
Where multiple applications related to identical inventions are filed on the same day, only the person agreed upon by all the applicants after consultation may obtain a patent for the invention. If no agreement is reached or no consultation is possible, none of the applicants may obtain a patent for the invention. (Article 36.2)
(B)
Where a patent application has the same subject matter as a utility model application and the applications are filed on the same day, the same rule as above applies. (Article 36.3)
(C)
With respect to multiple applications filed on the same day, the Commissioner of KIPO can order the applicants to agree to which applicant will file application within a designated time, and if the applicants do as ordered, the Commissioner shall proceed the examination process. However, if the applicants fail to do so, both applications shall be rejected. The applicant agreed to by the applicants must file application signed by all applicants, document proving the agreement, and a power of attorney documentation if necessary.

21) Article 36.1 of the Patent Act

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(4) Identical invention by identical inventor

With respect to multiple applications by a single applicant for a single invention, the same rule as above shall apply. If the dates are different, only the application submitted earlier will be patented, and if the dates are the same, the applicant will be ordered to choose one. If he fails to follow the order, all the applications shall be rejected. Where multiple applications by a single applicant for a single invention are all granted and subsequently one of them is finally invalidated, the remaining registrations are interpreted as valid.

(5) Object’s scope for the prior application

In the application of Article 36 of the Act, regarding identical invention or device, some applications are prior applications and some are not.

NonPrior Application

Where application for patent or utility model is invalidated, withdrawn or abandoned, or where the decision to refuse patent is finalized, except when the ground is applicants’ failure to agree provided for in Article 36.2 of the Act.
An application filed by an applicant who is not a successor in title to the right to obtain the patent or utility model registration shall be deemed not to have existed.

Prior Application

Application is granted
Application is abandoned
Decision is made to refuse a patent, patent application shall be deemed prior application or become the object of discussion with respect to the subsequent application

B. Method of determining prior application

Articles 36.1 to 36.3 of the Act which deal with identical inventions of prior and subsequent applications concerns whether or not inventions stated in the claim are the same among applications with different or same filing dates or between patent applications and utility model applications, i.e., identicalness of inventions.

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(1) Object of determination

Object of identicalness determination according to Article 36 of the Act is the invention stated in the claim(s). Identicalness determination concerns the technical idea of the invention stated in the claim(s) according to the definition of invention. Where the patent claim(s) has multiple claim(s), identicalness is determined for each claim(s).

(2) How to determine whether or not claims are identical

(A)
Acknowledging invention stated in the clai m Same method as in novelty determinatio n
(B)
Comparison between inventions stated in the clai m If there is no difference, inventions are identical .

If the difference is

Simply a matter of expression
About purpose and effect but constitution is the same
About constitution but it is simply from adding, deleting or converting publicly

known or worked technology and there is no new effect, Inventions are determined identical

SECTION 3 PATENTABLE SUBJECT MATTER

. Patentable subject matter

The person who can be granted a patent is an inventor or successor. An inventor can be granted a patent as long as the invention meets requirements of the Patent Act. Article 33 of the Act provides, “inventor or successor has the right to be patented according to this Act.”

1. Nature of right to obtain patent

With respect to the nature of an inventor’s right to obtain a patent by making an invention, the following theories exist.

(1) Public right theory

The right is a public right to request the state to grant patent. It is a property right and is assignable. This is an approach with emphasis on procedure.

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(2) Private right theory

The right is a natural right created by an act of invention itself. It is a private right preceding application and thus patent application is simply a procedure. This is an approach focused on substance.

(3) Publicprivate right theory

The right is public in that the inventor can request the state for a patent but also private in that an act of invention creates an ‘invention right’, a private substantive right.

2. Content of right to obtain a patent

(1) Specific content

Right to obtain a patent comes into being at the completion of invention and lasts until a patent right is created. It can be exercised by the inventor or successor, who can use, profit from or assign the invention without infringing on the rights of others.

(A)
Inventors or successors can use the invention themselves or let others use it. However, the right to obtain a patent does not create an exclusive right to use the invention and the inventor is prohibited from exercising the right if doing so infringes on others’ rights.
(B)
The right is part of an inventor’s right, a property right and assignable by the parties’ agreement. A non property right of an inventor is not assignable so the inventor can sign his name as “inventor” on the application.
(C)
The right cannot be published. It cannot become the object of mortgage or pledge because the mortgagee/pledgee has no right of consent in the amendment of the description or drawing under the Act. However, ‘transferring title for mortgage purpose’ is not prohibited.

(2) Transfer of right to obtain a patent

(A) Succession of right before patent application

Succession to the right to obtain a patent before filing an application is not effective against third parties unless the successor in title files an application (Article 38.1 of the Act), which is the same for inheritance or other general succession. Where the right to obtain patent is transferred to more than one parties (overlapping transfer), the firsttofile successor can be patented.

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(B) Succession of right after patent application

Succession to the right to obtain patent after filing an application is not effective unless notification of change of the applicant is filed, except for inheritance or other general succession (Article 38.4 of the Act), in order to clarify transfer of right. Upon inheritance or other general succession of the right, the successor in title shall immediately notify the Commissioner of KIPO. (Article 38.5)

(C) Conflict among multiple patent applications or notifications of change of applicant, with same filing date

Where two or more applications are filed on the basis of the right to obtain patent derived by succession from the same person for the same invention on the same day, succession by any person other than the one agreed upon after consultations by all applicants is not effective. (Article 38.2)

Also, where two or more notifications of change of applicant are made on the basis of the right to obtain patent derived by succession from the same person for the same invention on the same day, notification by any person other than the one agreed upon after consultations by all persons who made notification is not effective. (Article 38.6)

Despite the KIPO Commissioner’s order for consultation, if the parties do not report the result of consultation within the designated period, the parties are deemed not to have an agreement and no one can be granted patent on the invention which is the target of the concerned patent application or change of applicant notification. (Article 38.7)

(3) Restriction on transfer of right to obtain a patent

Where two or more persons jointly make an invention, they are entitled to jointly owning the patent (Article 33.2), and where a patent right is jointly owned, the owners may not assign their individual share without the consent of the other owners. (Article 37.3)

(4) Loss of right to obtain a patent

Where decision to refuse patent or opposition to such decision is finalized, if the successor to the right to obtain the patent does not exist or the party loses capacity to own a patent, the right to obtain patent is lost. The same goes for where patent application is abandoned or withdrawn.

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. Holder of Right

The right to obtain a patent only belongs to the inventor and successor, which is the ‘inventor rule’. Therefore, a patent application by someone other than an inventor or successor shall be refused (Article 62) and even if registered, can be the object of patent opposition (Article 69.2), invalidated (Article 74) or cancelled (Article 133). Nowadays, since many countries have a strong tendency to promote industrial development by protecting inventors, the ‘inventor rule’ is a global trend.

1. Inventor

An inventor is a natural person who actually made the invention. Invention is not a legal, but a factual act, so a person who is not able to conduct legal activity can still make an invention. Also, an inventor is one who directly participates in the creative act of invention, so a mere assistant, advisor or lender of money cannot be an inventor. An inventor also has a right to have his name stated in the application, other than being patented.

A juridical person cannot be an inventor. Article 42.1 provides that a patent application shall state the name and address of the applicant (and, if a juridical person, then the name and address of the business) and the inventor. An applicant needs only to state the name of the juridical person while an inventor has to state the inventor’s name, meaning that an applicant may be a juridical person while an inventor has to be a natural person.

Also, where some of the inventors are omitted or erroneously stated in the patent application due to applicant’s mistake, adding or revising is allowed until the time of decision to grant or refuse the patent. (Article 28 of Ministerial Decree)

2. Joint inventor

Where more than one person jointly makes an invention, they are entitled to jointly own the patent (Article 33.2) and all the joint owners shall jointly file patent application. (Article 44) According to the current law, if any joint inventor objects, remaining joint inventors cannot file application and if only part of the joint inventors participate in the application, the application shall be refused or, if granted, invalidated or cancelled.

Requirements for a joint inventor are same as for sole inventors, and a mere administrator, assistant or lender of money is not a joint inventor. Therefore, in order to be a joint inventor, one has to be an actual cooperator who directly participated in the conceiving or completing of the technical idea.

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Employee invention and joint research and development (R&D) are main issues in the joint invention. In an industrial or academicindustrial joint R&D, it is difficult to decide the share of contribution made by each participant. Therefore, it is necessary to make an agreement by contract in advance. The Patent Act provides that where joint applicants have agreement on each applicant’s share, they have to state so in the application and file to the Commissioner of KIPO along with a document proving there was an agreement. (Article 27 of Ministerial Decree)

3. Successor

The right to obtain a patent may be transferred by contract, inheritance or other general succession. (Article 37.1) This right can be transferred partially. The successor only succeeds to such right as a property right and the inventor’s right to fame remains with him. So, the real inventor’s name has to be stated in the application. Where the right to obtain a patent is jointly owned, each joint owner needs the consent of all other joint owners in order to transfer the right.

Regarding whether or not a successor can be deemed to have succeeded to the right to obtain an overseas patent, there is disagreement but the general interpretation is that unless otherwise agreed to, succession is limited to domestic patents due to the principle of patent independence. Therefore, a successor who wishes to be granted a patent overseas needs to put it in an agreement.

4. Prior applicant

An inventor naturally has inventor’s right, which is included in the right to obtain a patent. However, a patent right is not automatically granted to an inventor but to the firsttofile applicant. Because of the inventor rule, a noninventor cannot patent even if he is the firsttofile applicant.

5. Legitimate holder of right

A. Meaning

Nonright holder is divided into the fraudulent patent holder who is not a legitimate holder of the right to obtain a patent and the ‘good faith nonright holder’ who is a successor to the fraudulent patent holder. Note, however, that a nonright holder in Articles 34 and 35 includes both.

Patent application by a nonright holder shall be refused, cancelled or invalidated. However, although an application by a nonright holder can be refused or, if granted, cancelled or invalidated, the fact that an application was filed remains, which may hurt the application by a legitimate holder of the right. Thus, Article 34 protects applications

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of legitimate holders who files while a nonright holder’s application is pending, and Article 35 does the same after granting of a patent to a nonright holder.

B. Protection of legitimate holder of right

(1) Patent application by nonright holder and protection of legitimate holder of right

Where a patent application is not granted on the ground that it is filed by a nonright holder, an application by a legitimate holder of right filed thereafter is deemed to have been filed at the same time as the nonright holder. However, where application by the legitimate holder of right was filed after 30 days from the date when the nonright holder is decided not to be patented, the above shall not apply.

Therefore, where application is filed within the period designated by law, since the legitimate holder of right’s application is effective retroactively, the legitimate holder shall have priority over a third person filing in between. “Date when a patent application is decided to be refused” is interpreted to mean the date when patent application is finally refused for lack of right and the KIPO notifies accordingly. It will also mean, the filing date of when a nonright holder files a written withdrawal or abandonment.

(2) Patent of nonright holder and protection of legitimate holder of right

Where a illegitimate holder of right’s patent is cancelled in an opposition procedure or is finally invalidated in a patent tribunal on the ground that it is an application by an illegitimate holder of right, the patent application by the legitimate holder of right is deemed to have been filed. However, where a legitimate holder of right filed a patent application after two years from the patent registration by an illegitimate holder of right or after 30 days from the patent finally being cancelled, the patent application by the legitimate holder of right does not take effect retroactively to the date of application by the nonright holder.

C. Conditions for protection of patent application by legitimate holder of right

(1)
Identical invention: Above all, inventions of a legitimate holder of right and illegitimate holder of right have to be identical.
(2)
Application within certain period of time: Legitimate holder of right has to file a patent application within 30 days from the date when the patent application by the illegitimate holder of right is refused patent or, if granted, is finally invalidated or cancelled. Also, where registration of a non right holder’s patent is published, the legitimate holder’s application has to be filed within two years from the publication.
(3)
Filing application: In order for a legitimate holder of right to have his status acknowledged, he has to file a patent application with a document proving his right attached.

75

CHAPTER 4 PATENT APPLICATION

SECTION 1 PROCEDURE OF PATENT APPLICATION

. Meaning

Patent application is an act of submitting an application by an inventor requesting the KIPO to make a patent decision, by which the inventor can be granted a patent. Copyright belongs to the creator ab initio from the moment of creation without any procedures or methods but, a patent is created by an act of the government. That is, an inventor has the right to a patent but he/she must apply for it and perform necessary procedures in order to be granted a patent. A patent application is an attempt to monopolize certain technology and has a big impact on people so it must be submitted to the KIPO in a physical or electronic document format prescribed by relevant laws, in order to prevent uncertainty about its content. Patent applications failing to meet such requirements can be refused a patent or be subject to disadvantage even after being patented.

. General principles for patent application

Once a patent application is recognized legally and accepted by the KIPO, the application date and number shall be issued and a written notice of the application number shall be sent to the applicant. Submission of the application shall become effective on the date of the application’s arrival at the KIPO.

1. Writing requirement

Patent application shall be submitted by an application document, detailed description, drawing and abstract of the disclosure in a physical or electronic document format complying with relevant laws. (Patent Act, Article 283) Submitted documents shall be prepared separately per application unless otherwise provided by law, it will include the applicant’s name (in the case of a juridical person, its name) and identification number (applicant code) and have the applicant’s seal stamped. However, in the absence of an applicant code, it shall include the applicant’s name and address (in the case of a juridical person, its name and place of business) and have the applicant’s seal stamped. (Patent Act Enforcement Rule, Article 2)

In the application procedure, if necessary, it is possible to submit a sample. But, an oral explanation or submission of the sample cannot replace a written application. This writing requirement is in principle adopted in all procedures of KIPO or KIPT, as well as in patent applications.

PATENT APPLICATION

2. Use of Korean mandated

Application documents have to be in Korean (Patent Act Enforcement Rule, Article 4.1) and if not, shall be returned as an illegal application. (Patent Act Enforcement Rule, Article 11.1) Attachments to the application, such as power of attorney, certificate of nationality or priority claim shall include Korean translations as well. However, among the priority claim document, detailed description and drawing of the invention, to the extent that they are identical to those attached to the application, do not have to include a Korean translation with a proper explanation. (Patent Act Enforcement Rule, Article 4.2).

3. Formalism

Patent application shall be submitted in accordance with the form provided by patent laws and if not, may be returned as an illegal application. (Patent Act Enforcement Rule, Article 11) Also, the applicant may be instructed to amend his/her application by the Commissioner of KIPO (Patent Act, Article 46) and if he/she fails to do so, the Commissioner may invalidate the application. (Patent Act, Article 16)

. Types of Application Form for Patents

1. Application Form for Patents

A person who wishes to be granted a patent has to prepare a patent application in the form prescribed by Attached Form #10 of the Ministerial Decree to the Patent Act (“Ministerial Decree”), attach necessary documents and file them to the Commissioner of KIPO.

A. A patent application has to state the following. (Article 42.1)

Name and address of the applicant (and, if a legal entity, the name and address of the business),
Name and residential or business address of the agent, if any (and, if the agent is a patent legal entity, the name and address of the business and the name of the designated patent attorney),
Title of the invention,
Name and address of the inventor

B. The following has to be attached to the application.

Description, abstract and drawing,
Where an agent purports to represent a person who is initiating a patent related procedure, the agent shall present written proof of the power of attorney.
Other written evidence required by the law: Evidence of invention not being considered to be publicly known (Article 30.2), Evidence of being a lawful right holder (Article 31.2 of Ministerial Decree), Written evidence of priority (Article 25 of Ministerial Decree), Written evidence of microbes being deposited (Article 2 of Presidential Decree to Patent Act), etc.

Where an agent, which in this Act includes patent administrators, purports to represent a person who is initiating a patentrelated procedure before the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the agent shall present written proof of a power of attorney.

2. Specifications

The most important attachment to the application is the description, of which the ‘detailed explanation of invention’ functions as a technical documentation showing the content of the invention as a result of technological development, and the ‘claim’ functions as a title of right showing the technical scope to be claimed as a patent. In order to show content of an invention, the following has to be stated according to relevant provisions

Title of invention,
Brief explanation of drawing,
Detailed explanation of invention,
Patent claim

A. Title of invention

This facilitates classification, investigation, etc. of the application and has to be stated concisely and clearly according to content of the invention

B. Brief explanation of drawing

(1)
In the patent application, a drawing is optional and ‘brief explanation of drawing’ is stated only when a drawing is attached to application. On the contrary, for an application for a utility model registration, which only concerns things, a drawing must be attached.
(2)
What each drawing represents must be briefly stated (e.g. drawing #1 is a top plan view and drawing #2 is a cross sectional view) and underneath that, names of marks for important parts of the drawing must be stated.

C. Detailed explanation of invention

This explains the invention stated in the patent claim and functions as documentation of the invention. It must state, as prescribed by the Industry and Resources Ministerial Decree, the invention in such a manner that it may easily be carried out by a person

PATENT APPLICATION

with ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains.22) (Article 42.3 of the Act)23) Violating this can be cause for a decision to refuse, and if granted, can invalidate a patent application.

(1) Explanation of terminology24)

(A)
‘Art to which the invention pertains’ is not limited to the technical area indicated by the title of invention but means the technical area objectively determined from the purpose and means of invention.
(B)
‘Person with ordinary skill’ is an average engineer with common technical knowledge in the relevant area at the time of the application who can freely employ general means and ability for R&D, obtain all the knowledge available at the time of application and belonging to the area related to the purpose of invention, and make them his own.
(C)
‘In a manner that it may be carried out’ requires that in the invention of things, the things to be manufactured and used, in the invention of method, the method be used, and in the invention of method of manufacturing things, the things be manufactured by the method. Invention is limited to that which is stated in the claim.
(D)
‘In a manner that it may easily be carried out’ requires that an invention be accurately understood and reproduced without employing excessive trial and error or by a complicated and sophisticated experiment by a person with ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains.

(2) Requirements for statement

(A) Task to solve

This is the motive of invention. Past technology related to applicable industrial area for the invention must be specifically stated and the task the invention is intended to solve by deriving problems of the past technology has to be clearly stated.

(B) Means of solution

Specific technical means to carry out the purpose of invention has to be stated along with its working. Technical means has to be stated clearly and specifically, and state examples of working which show how the invention is materialized.

22) See 97 Hu 2675 decision (Supreme Court, Dec 10, 1999)

23) Patent Act revised Jan 3, 2007 abolished the provision requiring statement of purpose, construction and effect of invention, and required that invention be stated clear and detailed according to the Industry and Resources Ministerial Decree.

24) 1 Examination Guideline of the KIPO (Sep 1, 1998)

1) Technical means to solve a problem: Technical means to carry out the purpose of the invention and the connection between technical means must be stated specifically. However, a technical idea not directly related to the essence of invention need not be stated.

2) Function and working: Not only connection but also function and working of the technical means has to be clearly stated so that a third person can carry it out easily.

3) Examples of working: Specific examples need to be stated to allow a person with ordinary skill to reproduce the invention. And, stating more examples helps clarify the technical idea of the invention and interpret the scope of patent stated in the claim. When using drawings to explain examples, the invention can be clarified by noting ‘symbols of drawing’ in parenthesis.

(C) Effect of invention: Favorable effects, as compared to past technology, derived from combination of the technical means achieving the purpose of invention has to be stated. This can be an important criterion for determining inventive step.

Revised Patent Act (promulgated Jan 3, 2007 and taking effect Jul 1, 2007) abolished the division of purpose, construction and effect, and allowed stating detailed explanation of the invention in a method prescribed by the Industry and Resources Ministerial Decree.

D. Patent claim

Patent claim is a kind of title of right. An inventor publishes invention by ‘detailed explanation of invention’ in the description and the scope of patent. What the inventor obtains in return is determined by the patent claim. (Article 97) Thus, a patent claim has to include one or more claims stating the protection intended for, and the claims have to meet the following.

Must be supported by detailed explanation of the invention
Must be stated clearly and concisely

The Patent Act revised on January 3, 2007 abolished the requirement that a claim only state indispensable items in the construction of an invention.

3. Drawing

A drawing transfers an invention into picture in order to serve as a better understanding and is a supplement to description. Drawing can only be attached when necessary from the types of invention, so if it is not necessary or not able to be attached, as in a chemical material, it need not be attached. A drawing has to be prepared according to the guidelines prescribed in Attached Form #12 to Article 21 of the Ministerial Decree.

PATENT APPLICATION CHAPTER 4

4. Abstract

A. An abstract attached to a patent application may not be interpreted to define the scope of an invention for which protection is sought but it serves as technical information. (Article 43)

B. Abstract must be prepared in the order ofsummary, representative drawingand reference.

    1. (1) In order to facilitate determining the content of invention, summaryitem shall state the following
      1. Technical area to which invention belong (about 30 Korean characters),
      2. Purpose of invention (about 80 Korean characters),
      3. Construction of invention (about 250 Korean characters),
      4. Effect of invention (about 50 Korean characters)
    2. (2) If drawing is available, one shall be stated in therepresentative drawingitem.
  1. (3) Five to ten main reference terms related to construction of the invention shall be stated in referenceitem and if necessary, terms not included in description can be stated.

PATENT APPLICATION

[Attached Form #10] Patent application form

Documentpatent applicationaddresseeKIPO CommissionerFiling date】【international patent classification】 【Invention in Korean(Stated so that the whole invention can be generally under

stood)Invention in English】 【applicant

Nameapplicant code(Application for applicant code to be attached)

Inventor】【Name in Korean】 【Name in English】 【Resident Registration Number】 【Zip code】【Address

Examination request(Request can be made within five years of application)Early publication(Published after 3 months if requested and after 18 months by default if not)How to receive registration certificate】【IntentPursuant to Article 42 of Patent Act, application is hereby filed.

FeeBase feeExamination feeTotalReduction or exemptionAfter reduction or exemption

Attachment1. Abstract, description, drawing (1 for each)

PATENT APPLICATION CHAPTER 4

[Attached Form #15]25)

Description

Title of invention(device)

Detailed explanation of invention(device)Technical areaBackground technologyContent of invention(device)

Task to be solvedMeans to solve taskEffect

Details to work invention(device) (Example of working) (Industrial applicability)scope of Claim of patent(utility mode registration)】【Claim 1】【Brief explanation of drawing

[Attached Form #12]

Drawing】【drawing 1】【drawing 2

[Attached Form #13]

Abstract】【Summary】【Representative picture】【Reference

25) Taking effect on Jul 1, 2007.

5. Patent application procedure

A. Method of application

In order to file patent application, applicant has to prepare application and file it to KIPO. A method of filing includes written filing and electronic filing using KIPO electronic filing system filing electronic document on line or by floppy disc. However, an invention ordered to maintain confidentiality cannot be filed in electronic document.

B. Applicant Identification Number

A person filing a patent application must apply to KIPO or the Intellectual Property Tribunal (“Tribunal”) for an ‘identification number (applicant code number)’, which shall be provided immediately. If requested by mail, the number shall be returnted by mail. The number shall be used for all documents filed to KIPO or the Tribunal.

C. Application procedure using electronic document

(1)
Notification of electronic document use: A person purporting to apply by electronic document must also register for an electronic document use with the Commissioner of KIPO or the President of the Tribunal, and has to electronically sign the electronic documents submitted to the KIPO or the Tribunal so that he can be identified. (Article 28.4) Applicant must prepare application, description, drawing and abstract by using S/W provided by the KIPO.
(2)
Applying on line: Online application must be done by using S/W provided by KIPO and documents not able to be submitted online such as power of attorney and written proof have to be submitted within three days from the day when the online application number is confirmed, along with an electronic document attachment certificate.
(3)
Applying by floppy disc: Documents not able to be submitted in floppy discs have to be submitted as an attachment to the written floppy disc application.

PATENT APPLICATION

. Claim of Patent

1. Meaning

The modern patent system was first legislated in England and ‘patent claim’ was adopted in 1883 by law. As technology diversified with industrial development, it became difficult to make patent infringement determination by statements in the description. Also, the term ‘patent claim’ went into use in the U.S. in the 1820s, gradually being used as an independent item at the bottom of the description. Even after the term ‘patent claim’ became popularized, it was just for reference and the focus was on the description and the drawing.

However, the usefulness of the patent claim was recognized among patent practitioners and U.S. Congress ratified its use by legislating it in 1836. After that, with respect to the scope of claim, the U.S. changed from the center limitation rule to the border limitation rule.

With such background, patent claim is being used as important criteria for interpreting the scope of right. An inventor needs to recognize the importance of the patent claim, which is a title of invention for the patent he obtained in return for his invention.

2. Function of Claim of Patent

Patent claim’s essential and fundamental functions are the protection scope function and the invention defining function.

A. Scope of protection

As may be known from its birth, patent claim is the scope for which an applicant wants protection for his invention, so when someone infringes on the scope, it is patent infringement. In order to clarify this, the Patent Act provides that “the scope of protection conferred by a patented invention is determined by the subject matter described in the claim(s).” (Article 97) Thus, invention stated in the description but not in the claim(s) is not protected.

B. Requirement of construction

Claim(s) must define the invention clearly and concisely. (Article 42.4.2 of the Act)

3. Make up of Claim of Patent

A. Requirements for statement

A patent claim has the purpose of obtaining protection for an invention, so inventors need to state it so they may have maximum protection. Also, since an invention must be completed, everything necessary to specify the invention must be stated clearly.

There has to be one or more claims, which must be supported by a detailed explanation of the invention and that which defines the invention clearly and concisely. (Article 42.4 of the Act) Thus, an application not meeting the above shall be refused and, if the patent has already been granted, the patent shall be cancelled or invalidated.

(1) To be supported by detailed explanation of the invention

(A) A patent claim must only state the invention mentioned in the description because protecting an invention not stated there is against the purpose of the patent system.

(B) Types not supported by detailed explanation of the invention

1) Where items corresponding to the statement of claim is neither clearly stated nor implied in the description of invention.

2) Where the description and the claim have discrepancy in terminology and their correspondence (matching) is unclear.

3) Statement in the patent claim is phrased as ‘means’ to carry out a certain function or ‘work process’ but the description does not clearly state specific technical construction to implement such means or work process.

(2) Invention shall be stated clearly and concisely

Where, in order to broaden the claim, the construction requirement of the invention is not clearly stated with functional expressions, where combination among the elements and thus the invention is unclear, or where the patent is granted for an invention whose statement is not concise, the burden of interpreting protection scope is shifted to a third person, hurting legal stability. Thus, the patent claim has to state the definition clearly and concisely. However, a functional statement, if clear as a whole, is very helpful in stating the claim.

B. Method of statement

(1) On September 1, 1981, the Patent Act abolished the single claim system where only one claim is stated in the patent claim. The multiple claim system was adopted

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where two or more claims are allowed. On the method of stating independent and subordinate claims, Article 5 of the Presidential Decree provides as follows:

(A)
An independent claim is stated first and then a subordinate claim adding or limiting the independent claim can be stated. If necessary, another subordinate claim adding or limiting the former subordinate claim can be stated.
(B)
Independent claims have to be stated in proper numbers depending on the nature of invention.
(C)
In stating subordinate claims, one or more claims have to be cited among independent or other subordinate claims, whose numbers also have to be stated.
(D)
Claims citing two or more claims have to state the number of one of the cited claims.
(E)
Claims citing two or more claims cannot cite other subordinate claim citing two or more claims.
(F) Cited claims have to be stated before citing claims.
(G)
Claims have to be stated so that each claim is stated in a separate line and each claim is numbered in the order of the statement.
(2) Statement of independent claim
(A)
Independent claims are stated in principle without citing other claims. But, where the category of invention is different, it can be stated citing other claims as long as the invention is clearly understood, in order to prevent overlapping statement.
[Example ] 1) Product manufactured with the method of claim # _ 2) Method of manufacturing product of claim #_ by ____ _ 3) Method of ___ by using product manufactured by method of claim # _
(B)
Independent claims citing other claims can cite one or more claims among independent or subordinate claims.
[Example ] 1) Product manufactured with the method of claim #_ or claim # _ 2) Product manufactured with the method stated in claims from #_ to # _
(C)
Claims citing two or more claims cannot cite other claims citing two or more claims.

[Example 1] Examples where claims citing two or more claims cite other claims

citing two or more claims

1) Method of _____

2) Method of _____ in claim #1

3) Method of _____ in claim #1 or #2

4) Product manufactured by Method of claim #2 or #3

[Example 2] Examples where claims citing two or more claims cite other claims

citing claims citing two or more claims

1) Method of _____

2) Method of _____ in claim #1

3) Method of _____ in claim #1 or #2

4) Method of _____ in claim #3

5) Product manufactured by method of claim #2 or #4

(3) Statement of subordinate claim

(A)
Subordinate claims limit or add independent or other subordinate claims cited. The scope of protection is interpreted narrower than cited claims. However, in stating subordinate claims, the following are not allowed.
Limiting only effect or terminology of invention
Reducing elements of cited claim
Replacing elements stated in the cited claim with other elements
(B)
Subordinate claims have to cite one or more claim among independent or other subordinate claims. In such case, numbers of cited claim have to be stated.
(C)
Claims citing two or more claims must state the number of cited claims selectively, and claims citing two or more claims cannot cite other claims essentially citing two or more claims.
(D) Cited claims have to be stated before citing claims.
(E)
Subordinate claims cannot cite and state independent or other subordinate claims of a different category.

[Example]: Prohibited examples (Claim #3 and claim #4) 1) Method of _____

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2) Method of _____ in claim #1 3) Method of _____ in claim #2 4) Method (or Product) of _____ in claim #2 or #3

Meanwhile, revised Patent Act (promulgated January 3, 2007; Effective July 1, 2007) allowed a patent claim to be submitted by request of examination or publication of filing.

V. Singularity of Invention

1. Meaning

As technology becomes advanced and sophisticated, in order to properly protect an invention obtained from technological development, and to allow people to easily check filed inventions and help KIPO to speed up and improve efficiency of examination, the KIPO determines the scope of multiple inventions included in one application, i.e., the scope of patent application. Thus, despite the ‘one invention, one application’ rule, a group of inventions that form a single general inventive concept may be the subject of a patent application. (Article 45) The U.S., Japan and EPC have similar provisions.26)

2. Invention of Group

A group of Inventions can include multiple independent claims of same or different category. Where the category is the same, the following has to be met.

An invention with the same area of industrial application and task, as specified in the invention
An invention which includes the same main part, the essential item for construction, as specified in the invention 27)

A. Invention with the same industrial application area: includes cases where specific a invention and related invention have the same, overlapping or directly related technical areas.

26) Article 121 of the US Patent Act provides that if two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one application, the Director of USPTO may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions, and Article 1.141(a) of the CFR in principle does not allow two or more independent and distinct inventions to be claimed in one application.; Article 82 of EPC (“Unity of invention”); Article 37 of the Patent Act of Japan

27) Article 37.1 of the Patent Act of Japan

B. Invention with the same task: includes the case where a specific invention and related invention have the same or overlapping tasks to solve.

C. Invention with the same main part: main part of claim elementsmeans that the part deemed necessary to specify the invention by task, and the invention with the same main partmeans the case where the related invention has as its main part the main part of specific invention.

3. Requirements for Application #1

A patent application must relate to a single invention only. However, a group of inventions that form a single general inventive concept may be the subject of a patent application (Article 45), with the following requirements. (Article 6 of Presidential Decree)

  1. Inventions shall have a technical relationship with each other.
  2. Inventions shall have the same or corresponding technical feature which shall be an improvement over prior technology as a whole (revised Jun 13, 2003).

4. Legal Effect for Breach

Whether or not the ‘one invention, one application’ rule is violated concerns not substantive requirements but the filing procedure of treating two or more applications as one. Thus, a violation shall be cause of patent refusal (Article 62) but, if the patent has been granted, it shall not be a cause of patent invalidation or a request of reason for the patent. Also, where an applicant is refused a patent for the above violation, the applicant can file divisional application or file an amendment by deletion within a designated period.

VI. Withdrawal and abandonment of application

An applicant can withdraw or abandon his/her patent application during the patent procedure. Withdrawal or abandonment may be caused by events prescribed by law or by the applicant’s own will.

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SECTION 2 AMENDMENT OF APPLICATION

. Amendment system

1. Meaning

Amendment of an application means a procedure which, where the method of application or statement of the description or drawing has flaws. Thus, the applicant cures such flaws during the application procedure while maintaining the identicalness of the original description or drawing. In the firsttofile rule, applicants may be haste in filing in order to secure firsttofile status and thus the description or drawing may have flaws or unexpected problems. The amendment of application is intended to remedy this problem by protecting the applicants by providing opportunities to cure the flaws. However, since an amendment becomes effective retroactively, unlimited amendment is against the firsttofile rule and can hurt thirdparties. Also, unlimited amendments may harm the stability of the patent system and cause problems during the examination procedure.

Therefore, the Patent Act adopts a qualified amendment principle where postapplication amendment is acknowledged with qualification in time and content.

2. Types of amendment

Amendment of patent application is divided into procedural and substantive amendment.

A. Procedural amendment: Where a patent procedure does not meet the method prescribed by law, it can be amended. (Method amendment) Procedural amendment can be done by the applicants will or by an amendment order from the KIPO Commissioner. (Article 46)

B. Substantive amendment: Substantive amendment concerns not the mode of application but the description or drawing in which case their erroneous contents are amended. Substantive amendment can be done by the applicants will or by an amendment order from the KIPO Commissioner. (Article 47)