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SMEs step up patent suit strategies in overseas market: data

South Korea’s small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly taking aggressive legal measures to defend their patents in the US market, according to the Korean Intellectual Property Office and the Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency.

The 2017 IP Trend Annual Report showed Monday that the number of patent litigations filed by Korean companies in the United States, which had been on a steady decline since 2013, took an upturn last year and stood at 182 cases, up 38 from the previous year. 

The number of suits filed by Korean SMEs took the steepest climb during this period, from six cases in 2016 to 19 in 2017, reflecting a change in the SMEs’ overseas business trend.

The corresponding figure for this year is to be much higher, as the quarterly figure as of the end of March had already reached 23, data showed.

In contrast, conglomerates remained mostly on the defense, posing as defendants in 138 cases out of the total 140 last year.

A 68 percent majority of the litigations involved telecommunications and electric and electronic businesses, while 66 percent of the defensive suits for Korean companies were filed by nonpracticing entities such as Uniloc.

Uniloc is known for its frequent lawsuits against tech giants across the world. Last year, the company filed 14 litigations against South Korea’s top market players, including Samsung Electronics and game publisher Nexon.

Seeking to assist domestic companies in their overseas patent battle, KOIPA is providing users with IP strategies and news updates through its dispute-related information portal (, officials also said.

“This aggressive patent strategy adopted by SMEs could lead to a new business model,” said Park Seong-joon, intellectual property protection director at KIPO.

“We encourage (SMEs) to make the best use of KIPO’s IP protection programs when practicing their patents, trademarks and other IP rights in overseas markets.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (
Korea Herald daum