Revisions to the Korean Patent Act - Effective as of January 1, 2015
Amendments to the Korean Patent Act were promulgated on June 11, 2014, after 4 years of research and planning by a task force team that had been set up to implement the Patent Law Treaty (PLT). Accordingly, major changes have been introduced to the revised Korean Patent Act to comply with global standards, and will be effective as of January 1, 2015.

Summaries of the major changes to the Korean Patent Act are explained below.

I. Relaxation of Requirements for a Specification and Claims when filing a Patent Application - Article 42(2)
  • Relaxation of Formalities for a Specification: Under the revised Korean Patent Act, any forms of a description of an invention, such as a thesis, papers, or any other publications, may be accepted at the time of filing a patent application in Korea. Thereafter, a specification and claims that meet the formality requirements can be submitted within 14 months of the earliest priority date. If they are not submitted within this period, the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.
  • Relaxation of Languages: Under the revised Korean Patent Act, a patent application may be filed either in Korean or English. Foreign languages other than English are also expected to be accepted in the future. For a foreign-language application, its Korean translation should be filed within 14 months of the earliest priority date. If such a translation is not submitted within this period, the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.
  • These provisions may be applied to Korean patent applications that are filed in Korea on or after January 1, 2015. Accordingly, Korean national phase entry applications for PCT applications having their international filing dates of January 1, 2015, or after, will benefit from these revisions.

II. Change in Basis of Amendment to a Korean Patent Application filed in a Foreign Language - Articles 47 & 208
  • Under the newly adopted foreign-language patent application system, it will be possible to correct a Korean translation of a foreign-language patent application within the scope of its foreign-language document originally filed with KIPO. Under the current Korean Patent Act, a basis of an amendment is a Korean translation, and thus, it is not possible to correct a mistranslation. Now, under the revised Korean Patent Act, the correction of any typographical or translation error made during the process of translation is possible based on the original foreign-language document.
  • This provision may be applied to Korean Patent Applications filed in foreign languages, on or after January 1, 2015. Accordingly, Korean national phase entry applications for PCT applications having their international filing dates of January 1, 2015, or after, will benefit from this revision.

III. Extensions of Time to Submit Korean Translations in cases of PCT Applications - Article 201
  • Under the revised Korean Patent Act, in the case of a PCT application, it is possible to request a one-month extension of time to submit a Korean translation for a national phase application. Accordingly, the Korean translation of the PCT application may be submitted within 32 months from the priority date, upon request of the applicant. Under the current Korean Patent Act, Korean translations should be filed within 31 months from the priority date.
  • This provision will be applied to Korean national phase applications for PCT applications filed on or after January 1, 2015.

IV. Relaxation of Requirements for the Restoration of Patent Rights due to Non-payment of Annuities - Article 81 (3)
    Patent rights that have been abandoned due to the failure to pay annuities can now be restored more easily than before. As of June 11, 2014, if original annuities are paid in double the amount for any abandoned patents (triple under the old law), such patent rights can be revived regardless of whether or not the patents are currently being worked in Korea. In this regard, there is no need to submit evidencing materials of use in Korea when filing a request for the restoration of a patent right.