|Kim Jong-gyun, trademark examiner of the Trademark and Design Examination Bureau of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, talks about design patent to designers in a lecture held during the Herald Design Week 2013 at Blue Square, Hannam-dong, Seoul. (Chae Seung/Herald Design Week)|
When a singer makes a song from the melody of a stranger’s humming, is he infringing the copyright of the original creator?
Yes, says Kim Jong-gyun, trademark examiner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office.
“Let’s say K-pop star G-Dragon was sitting next to you when you were humming the melody and he creates a song out of it. That could be copyright infringement,” said Kim at a lecture on intellectual property for young designers on Friday, during Herald Design Week 2013. “Singing karaoke is also copyright infringement.”
Kim stressed that designers should study intellectual property in order to protect their creations.
“Copyright is applied to creations that are expressions of ideas and emotions of human beings. If a creation is the result of one’s unique idea and emotion, it can be protected by copyright law,” Kim explained.
Kim, the author of “Design War,” a comprehensive guide to intellectual property, said Korean people were beginning to realize the importance of intellectual property through the patent war between Samsung and Apple.
“It definitely raised awareness of intellectual property, but many designers still struggle to understand it,” Kim said.
Kim raised concerns that designers’ idea of copyright protection was something automatically given to them upon creation.
“There are so many ways your creation cannot be subject to copyright protection. It should be studied because there are so many exceptions,” he said.
Kim explained many forms of intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks, and presented examples of creations not granted copyright.
“Features that are functional or universal cannot be protected,” Kim said.
Artist Kim Tschang-yeul’s signature painting feature “waterdrops” cannot be granted copyright as the act of drawing waterdrops is not an exclusive form of act; clothes are not protected because they are rather functional products that come in the same forms ― in shirts, pants and skirts.
Kim took the case of Hodori, the official mascot of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, to detail which parts are subject to protection.
“First of all, the tiger is a common cultural asset of humanity ―- it’s something that all mankind can draw and see. The pose is universal, therefore any feature related to a tiger is not granted for protection. But the parts that are granted copyright are the traditional Korean hat and the Olympic flag-themed necklace because they are unique,” Kim said. The gobal sports event was where Korea started to practice intellectual property law after signing onto the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property.
“Still Korean designers do not realize the importance of intellectual property. They should learn and study laws so that they can manage and protect their creation and lead a successful career,” Kim noted.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org