Korean Applications for International Patents and Trademarks Increasing Despite the Global Economic Crisis
- Applications under the PCT increased by 8.0% and the Madrid Protocol by 32.3% last year -

Despite the global economic crisis last year, Korean applications for international patents and trademarks increased, according to recent records.

According to records collected by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner Soo-won Lee), Korean applications for international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) totaled 10,412 in 2011, an 8.0 percent increase year-on-year from 9,639 in 2010.

This shows that Korean companies are enhancing their future-oriented investment in order to consolidate their intellectual property (IP) rights such as patents and trademarks in the global market environment. This is mostly due to increasing competition from patent wars from the uncertainty of the global economy and Europe¡¯s economic crisis.

A look at the types of applicants shows that companies and research institutes applied for 8,454 IP rights making up 81.2 percent of the total and individuals applied for 1,958 IP rights at 18.8 percent of the total. Of the companies and research institutes, LG Electronics had the greatest number of applications at 1,253, followed by Samsung Electronics at 752 and LG Chem at 314.

By application language, the number of international applications in Korean has been steadily increasing since 2009 when Korean was accepted as an official language for international IP applications cutting short the time and cost of translating the applications into English. As a result, the number of applications in Korean reached 8,394 in 2011 or 80.6 percent of the total.

At the same time, foreign applicants applying for international investigation by KIPO under the PCT steadily increased, showing a more active foreign export of Korean examination services.

International investigations requested by foreign applicants reached 15,717 in 2011, a 13.3 percent rise year-on-year from 2010 (13,877 applications). Among them, U.S. companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard comprised 96.5 percent (15,168 applications) of the total, proving that KIPO¡¯s high examination standards are acknowledged internationally.

International trademark applications under the ¡°Madrid Protocol,¡± a system for international trademark applications, increased by 32.3 percent from 405 applications in 2010 to 536 applications in 2011. The designation of states for international applications of trademarks also increased by 14.6 percent from 3,309 applications in 2010 to 3,792 in 2011 (refer to attachment 1).

Among Korean companies that applied for trademarks in foreign countries under the Madrid international trademark application system in 2011, Cell Trion (13) had the most applications, followed by Samsung Electronics (9) and Woongjin Coway (9). Among states designated for international trademark applications, the United States topped the list (343), followed by China (312), Japan (309) and the European Union (215).

In addition, foreign applicants applying in Korea under the Madrid Protocol increased by 30.0 percent from 8,017 in 2010 to 10,420 in 2011. By country, of the total 10,420 applications, those by U.S. citizens topped the list (1,655), followed by the European Union* (1,163), Germany (1,097) and Japan (988). By company, Novartis (medical and pharmaceutical products) of Switzerland was at the top with 62 applications followed by BMW, an automobile manufacturing company of Germany, with 54 applications and Abercrombie & Fitch (clothes, fashion and beauty products) of Switzerland with 49 applications.

Director-General Jae-hyeon Ahn of the KIPO International Cooperation and Customer Support Bureau said, ¡°Despite the global economic crisis, Korean application for international patents and trademarks are steadily increasing because Korean companies are actively making efforts to enhance their international competitiveness by consolidating their development of new technology and superior brands.¡±

<Obtained from the website of KIPO (http://www.kipo.go.kr/kpo/eng); posted on February 9, 2012>