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Top 5 IP offices gather in Seoul for trademark, industrial design system innovation talks

Representatives of the world’s top five IP offices have gathered in Seoul this week for their annual meetings on trademarks and industrial designs, as they aim to align the conventional trademark and industrial design system with the “fourth industrial revolution.”

The Korean Intellectual Property Office said Wednesday the TM5-ID5 Annual Meetings are being held at Imperial Palace Seoul from Thursday to Tuesday, attended by KIPO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Japan Patent Office, China National Intellectual Property Administration and European Union Intellectual Property Office.

South Korea, the US, EU, Japan and China, accounting for over 70 percent of the world’s trademark and industrial patent applications, are referred to as the TM5 and ID5 partners. In last year’s annual meeting, held in Alicante, Spain, KIPO was named to host this year’s meeting and affiliated forums.


Korean Intellectual Property Office Commissioner Park Won-joo (fourth from left) poses with VIPs at the Seoul International Trademark and Design Forum held Tuesday at Imperial Palace Seoul. (KIPO)
Korean Intellectual Property Office Commissioner Park Won-joo (fourth from left) poses with VIPs at the Seoul International Trademark and Design Forum held Tuesday at Imperial Palace Seoul. (KIPO)

“This year’s meeting will focus on promoting the cooperation of the TM5-ID5 partners so that they may play a pivotal role in protecting trademarks and industrial designs amid the fourth industrial revolution era,” said KIPO Commissioner Park Won-joo.

At the TM5 meetings, Thursday and Friday, participating IP offices will discuss 16 cooperative projects, including USPTO’s suggestion to facilitate overseas trademark registration by creating a common list of acceptable goods and services and KIPO-led proposal on providing information on how TM5 members describe goods and services.

During the ID5 meeting next week, 15 items will be on the agenda for discussion, including KIPO’s analysis on eligibility for industrial design protection.

This year’s annual event will especially be marked by a joint statement, in which participant states will confirm their shared vision to expand cooperation to innovative products and services that arise from the fourth industrial revolution, officials explained.


Korean Intellectual Property Office Commissioner Park Won-joo delivers a welcoming address at the Seoul International Trademark and Design Forum held Tuesday at Imperial Palace Seoul. (KIPO)
Korean Intellectual Property Office Commissioner Park Won-joo delivers a welcoming address at the Seoul International Trademark and Design Forum held Tuesday at Imperial Palace Seoul. (KIPO)

“Trademarks and industrial designs often serve as powerful economic moats for companies by creating an emotional bond with customers and thus contributing to the brand’s public trust,” Park said.

The role of intangible knowledge assets will continue to increase in this age of advanced technology and integrated platform, he added.

For instance, digital goods with no tangible shape and volume will assume exchange market value, while virtual and augmented reality will involve an unprecedented trademark issue, according to Park.

“The rights over design works by artificial intelligence bring forward a new point of debate, to which no definite answer yet exists,” he added.

As one of the world’s technology pioneers, South Korea is working on various plans to revise the incumbent legal framework on trademarks and industrial designs in order to flexibly adapt to the upcoming technological innovation, according to KIPO.

“Starting next year, we will kick off the development of an AI-based patent information system. Also, we have recently begun the discussion on how to expand the range of legal protection for technology-initiated industrial designs,” Park said.

On the sidelines of the TM5 and ID5 annual meetings, Korea’s IP office will also hold the Korea Trademark and Design Week, which began Tuesday and runs to Nov. 7, officials said.

The week started off with the Seoul International Trademark and Design Forum, under the joint sponsorship of KIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, International Trademark Association and Korea Trademark & Design Association.

In line with the theme “The Future of Brand and Design in the Era of Fourth Industrial Revolution,” local and global IP experts shared their knowledge and experience on how technological innovation has been changing design and brand strategies.

This was followed by an anti-counterfeit symposium, organized by KIPO and INTA, to discuss ways to protect trademarks and industrial designs from evolving fake items and services.

Jointly with WIPO, KIPO will also hold conferences on the Madrid Application System and Hague System -- respectively leading international systems on trademarks and industrial designs.

Korea’s IP headquarters was first established in 1949 as an external bureau of the then-Ministry of Commerce and Industry, under the name Patent Bureau and later established into its current name KIPO in 1977.

Since signing in WIPO in 1979, KIPO has joined in key international IP frameworks such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and Patent Cooperation Treaty, as well as the Madrid System and Hague System.

Having paced swiftly ahead in intellectual assets, Asia’s fourth-largest economy ranked No. 1 in the number of patent applications by population and per gross domestic product in 2016, according to WIPO’s annual report in 2017.

In actual numbers, Korea ranked fourth, behind China, the US and Japan, with 209,000 applications out of 3.13 million worldwide, data showed.

Also, the number of Madrid System-based trademark applications in Korea has climbed at a yearly average of 17.9 percent over the past 15 years, outrunning by far the global average of 6.4 percent and indicating Korea’s quick advancement in the trademark sector, according to KIPO.

By Bae Hyun-jung and Lee Kwon-hyung
(tellme@heraldcorp.com) (kwonhl@heraldcorp.com)
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