Data from the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) show that patent filings, excluding utility models, increased by 7.6%, while trade mark filings grew by 7.1% in 2012.
Utility model filings also increased by 5.2%, though they account for a smaller percentage of patent filings. In 2012, utility models made up just 6.1% of total patent applications, the lowest in seven years. By comparison, 16.5% of all Korean patent filings were utility models in 2006.
This relative decline in utility model filings stands in contrast to China, which despite becoming the world’s leading patent filer, has raised doubts about their patent quality due in part to the large amount of utility model applications.
Industrial design filings also jumped by 11.7% Similar to design patents in other jurisdictions, the increase in industrial design applications may be driven in part by the legal battle between Apple and Samsung over Apple’s iPhone designs.
KIPO has made increasing IP filings one of its main priorities. Speaking with Managing IP last year, Commissioner Kim Ho-Won stressed the importance of IP to Korea’s continuing global competitiveness: “Advanced global companies are pursuing active IP strategies and using IP as a weapon to dominate markets and attack competing companies to create revenue. In the future, only companies armed with strong IP rights will survive in global competition.”