Korea 10 May 2017

Changes in the Korean Patent Act

As of March, 1st, 2017, some notable changes have been made in the Korean Patent Act. The changes are aimed to strengthen the patent rights by making the participation of the public easier. By that, it is now easier to prevent poor patent rights from being registered and therefore improve the quality of patent rights. 

The major changes are as follows:

Introduction of Patent Cancellation Proceedings – After the changes in the Korean patent act, the cancellation of a poor patent right becomes more simplified. Anyone can request a cancellation of a registered patent with the Korean Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (KIPTAB) within six months after the publication of the patent. The patent cancellation is limited to prior art grounds based on patents or printed publication which have not been cited during the prosecution. This Ex Parte procedure is a cost-effective way to challenge the validity of a patent. The patent cancellation proceedings are effective for all patents registered on or after March 1, 2017.

Through the existing Inter-parte Invalidation Proceedings, anyone can file an invalidation of a registered patent from the date of registration until three months after the publication of the patent. This process is both complicated and burdensome for the public.

Re-examination by the Patent Office – The examiner can cancel his/her decision to grant a patent and re-open the examination procedure after issuance of Notice of Allowance but before the registration fee has been paid in case he/she finds clear grounds of rejection for the allowed claims (Ex Officio). This Ex Officio re-examination becomes effective for all patent applications for which a notice of allowance is issued on or after March 1, 2017.

Shortened period for requesting a substantial examination – The period for requesting a substantial examination is shortened from 5 years to 3 years from filing date. Three-year period becomes effective for all patent applications including PCT application filed on or after March 1, 2017 at the Korean Intellectual Property Office KIPO.

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