The Supreme Court recently ruled en banc that the AMERICAN UNIVERSITY trademark was sufficiently distinctive among South Korean consumers to be registered in connection with university education services, instruction services and other designated services. The court's reasoning is notable because it appears to hold that consumer awareness evidence can be used to prove the inherent distinctiveness of a mark in South Korea.
An important amendment to the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act will come into effect in July 2018. This amendment specifies the protection to be given to trade dress belonging to service providers in South Korea and introduces a new type of prohibited unfair competitive activity.
Amendments to the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act have expanded the South Korean Intellectual Property Office's (KIPO's) enforcement authority to include dead copy violations. The KIPO recently exercised its new powers for the first time, ordering that Mother Love Inc cease the manufacture and sales of its home meal replacement product. The amendments should benefit small companies which lack sufficient resources to seek effective legal remedies.
Several amendments to the Design Protection Act were recently published, including an extended grace period for applications, eased requirements for providing proof of priority and increased penalties for perjury before the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board, falsely indicating that a design has been registered or applied for and fraudulently obtaining a design registration. The amendments will come into effect on September 22 2017.
An important amendment to the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act was recently published. Under the new amendment, infringers that violate the 'dead copy' provision of the act may be subject to imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to KRW30 million. By introducing criminal penalties for violations of the dead copy provision, this amendment will make it less arduous and expensive for parties to enforce their rights against infringing products.
The Intellectual Property Office recently amended the Design Examination Guidelines, effective as of January 1 2017. The most notable of the amendments is that the creativity threshold for design registrations has been substantially lowered. Among other things, the amended guidelines make clear that if a product design is composed in a manner that has never been seen in the relevant field, it can be deemed as creative – regardless of whether it is composed of basic shapes or patterns.
New amendments to the Trademark Act recently came into force. Among other things, these comprehensive amendments eliminate the need to have legal standing to file a non-use cancellation action, remove the one-year bar against registering marks similar to expunged marks and clarify the limitations on trademark rights.
The National Assembly recently approved a major amendment to the Trademark Act which will take effect on September 1 2016. This is the first comprehensive amendment to the act in 26 years and includes changes to filing restrictions, official fees and grounds for rejection.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) recently proposed a number of significant changes to the Trademark Act. KIPO hopes that, if passed by the National Assembly, the proposed amendments will take effect in mid-2015. Of the many changes suggested by KIPO, the more notable refer to electronic use, trademark registration, cancellation actions, invalidation actions and trademarks not in use.
An amendment to the Trademark Act recently came into force to reflect provisions of the free trade agreement between Korea and the United States. The most notable changes introduced into the act focus on sound and scent marks, certification marks, exclusive licences and statutory damages. Furthermore, the act allows for the rejection of a trademark registration based on a lack of intent to use.
An amendment to the Korean Design Protection Act was recently announced. The key objectives of the amendment include the adoption of a re-examination procedure, the introduction of a sliding scale for the payment of late fees and the increase of penalties for divulging design secrets.