With its vibrant arts, culture, and scientific industries, the protection for intellectual property in South Korea is a non-negotiable. Especially since thousands of local trademarks have already been pirated abroad in recent years, bolstering the local laws is a natural response from the government.
A good example of how South Korea protects trademarks is in the case between the luxury brand Louis Vuitton and a local fried chicken restaurant called Louis Vuiton Dak. The luxury brand filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement as not only does the name of the chicken restaurant sound like theirs but their famous monogrammed design was also replicated by the eatery for their chicken packaging.
The Supreme Court of South Korea took the side of the luxury brand as the evidence is hard to deny. However, instead of following the court’s orders, the restaurant decided to change their name to LouiVui TonDak. This earned them a fine of 14.5 million won for non-compliance.
With these said, you can be guaranteed that your trademark will be protected in South Korea. If you wish to file and maintain one, follow the guide below for the steps.
Originally, a simple and straightforward definition for trademark was used in this Asian country where the trademark had its birth in 1908.
Today, the definition is basically similar to those of other countries except that it refers to “all sensible methods of expression” to differentiate one’s good or services from those of others. The the quoted phrase is quite interesting and intriguing at the same time.
Interesting and intriguing because, presently, an application for trademark for sound and smell may be approved to the applicant. Along with these, three-dimensional shapes, colors, holograms, and motions may also be submitted for trademarks.
In applying for a trademark in South Korea, it is highly essential for the applicant to understand the rules that govern such application. In doing so, a clear and comprehensible roadmap will come to mind.
After applying and successfully registering a trademark, a diligence will have to be observed by the trademark owner in maintaining that trademark which, gratefully, is a bit simpler than the application process.
The validity of a trademark is in effect for ten (10) years and can be renewed after every ten (10) years. If the trademark owner, for whatever inconceivable reason, forgets the business of his trademark before it is a decade, he stands to lose that trademark which will then be extinguished.
It is in practice and by requirement by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), which regulates all trademark matters among others, that the year before the termination of the trademark validity should the owner renew.
Lenient as it can be, KIPO will allow the trademark owner to renew even if the decade has passed as long as renewal will be done immediately within the six months after the tenth year. This accommodation by KIPO will come with an additional fine for negligence.
Knowing beforehand that trademarks can outlive the owner in some cases, KIPO has placed a condition that defers the office from extinguishing the trademark. Firstly, the successor must be named by the original owner to legally comply with the transfer.
The successor is then given three (3) years to apply for transfer that starts from the day after the death of the original owner of the trademark. If successor is unable to comply, the extinguishment of the trademark will be executed on the day right after the three years given to the successor.
Transfer of trademark right replaces the owner but not the content. This transfer right may also be restricted on the new owner by law.
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