Gyuwan Choi, the Director General of the Trademark and Design Examination Bureau told the INTA Daily News that KIPO is prioritizing increasing efficiency and reducing pendency times. In 2014, the average time to first action was 6.4 months, down from 7.7 months in 2013. KIPO intends to reduce first action pendency further to three months by 2017.
KIPO has achieved these reductions even with trademark applications increasing every year this decade; for example, in 2014 it received approximately 200,000 applications, 10,000 more than 2013.
Choi explained that the planned reduction in first action pendency times will come from hiring more trademark examiners, promoting use of the expedited examination system as well as further outsourcing aspects of the examination procedure such as searches.
In addition to increasing the speed of procedures, Choi said that there are plans to further leverage Korea’s advanced IT infrastructure to make the system more user-friendly. Mobile is a big part of this plan. KIPO is developing a system to allow trademark filers to make payments with their smartphones. Similarly, it is building systems for filers to process things such as general powers of attorney by mobile.
KIPO’s mobile services for users is part of the related trend toward increasing use of backend IT technologies to help bolster efficiency, a development seen at many other IP offices. He noted that KIPO’s use of technology is what allows it to handle 200,000 applications a year, so it makes sense that these technologies can also make services more convenient for the public.
“We are using our IT capabilities to enhance customer satisfaction,” he explained.