DAEJEON, Sept. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – The Korean Intellectual Property Office’s “Chinese Trademark Brokerages Early Warning Service” is providing a big boost to South Korean companies who have struggled from trademark theft.
Since its inception last year, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has requested the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China to run security checks on the monthly submissions of Korean language trademark applications to confirm whether they have been unlawfully appropriated by a Chinese company. If some are discovered to have been stolen, the KIPO has immediately shared the information with the relevant South Korean company.
The service also encourages early application submissions for trademarks (to the SIPO) and assists companies with filing their grievances against intellectual property theft.
The proportion of South Korean companies that registered objections to the trademark applications of Chinese companies prior to the establishment of the service was 36.5 percent. The proportion of companies that registered objections skyrocketed to 98.2 percent after the service was implemented.
As objections must be registered within three months of a Chinese company’s trademark application submission, the KIPO’s monthly communications with the SIPO have played a part in increasing the awareness of South Korean companies on the status of their trademarks.
The KIPO found last year that through 46 Chinese trademark brokerage firms, 1,232 South Korean companies had seen their trademarks stolen. The office informed the companies of their losses and presented them with a number of options, including applying for an invalidation of trademark registration, registering an objection, and arranging for negotiations on sharing trademark rights with the Chinese companies responsible.
However, there have been some downsides. A South Korean public policy research institute that analyzed the expenditures of 98 companies that had unsuccessfully demanded reparations from Chinese companies calculated said companies’ total accumulated outlays to be 3.4 billion won, 13 times the 260 million won spent for the same reasons last year.
The KIPO estimated the amount of financial damages incurred through the illegal appropriation of trademarks was 174 billion won.
An official from the KIPO said, “There were many cases where [South Korean companies] were not able to realize in time that their trademarks had been illegally appropriated, which led to these companies wasting a great deal of time and resources in responding to the situation. Through the Chinese Trademark Brokerages Early Warning Service, the damages to our companies will be reduced by strengthening their capacity for early responses to such situations.”