Trademark application South Korea

Trademark registration South Korea

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We have researched availability for more than 150,000 brands and verified that they met all requirements to trademark them.

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Every year we register more than 1500 trademarks in all countries in the world, with objections being lodged in less than 1 percent.

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What are the costs of a trademark registration in South Korea?

The costs of trademark registration in South Korea depend on the number of Nice classes that are relevant to the trademark. Most marks need 1 to 3 classes, but it is possible to get  protection in all of classes 1 through 45 of the Nice classification.


How do you get a trademark registration in South Korea?

South Korea is one of many countries with first-to-file jurisdiction over trademarks. To obtain the exclusive rights over a trademark, you must register it in South Korea. Applications must be submitted to the South Korean Intellectual Property Office. Although active use of a trademark is not necessary to register it, it does contribute to its distinctiveness. Indirectly this means that rejection by the responsible authority is much smaller.


What can you register as a trademark in South Korea?

To register a trademark in South Korea, it can be any sign designed to distinguish goods or services from other goods and services that exist on the market. You can think of words, designs, logos, sounds, smells, 3D shapes, holograms, movements, colors and the combination thereof. For “exotic” or unusual trademarks, a detailed description is required. If your trademark concerns a sound mark, please send an MP3 or WAV file with your application form.


Applying for trademark protection in South Korea: the procedure

It is highly advisable to conduct a thorough trademark search prior to submitting your application. This gives you insight into the possible existence of previously registered, identical trademarks or trademarks that are very similar to the brand you intend to use. As a foreign entrepreneur, you also provide a power of attorney with your application. It does not have to be legalized. The intellectual property office then starts with a formal assessment, followed by a second, substantive assessment.

In South Korea, as in most other countries, third parties are given the opportunity to object to the registration of your trademark. They are informed of this by means of publication in the official trade gazette. Third parties have two months from the date of publication to lodge an objection. Opposition to the brand you want to register in South Korea can be based on the same grounds as the grounds for rejection used by the agency. Is there no objection? Then your trademark will be registered and you will receive a certificate.


Absolute and relative grounds for rejection

If you submit a request to register your trademark in South Korea, it will go through various stages of review. Within these stages, there may be various grounds for rejection. These can be rejections on absolute grounds, but also on relative grounds. Absolute grounds for rejection include a lack of distinctiveness, the use of a well-known geographic name, a commonly used first name, and too generic a name for the goods or services you are offering. Relative grounds for rejection include an excessive resemblance to previously registered trademarks or a misleading nature.


How can you register a combined brand in South Korea?

When you want to apply for a combined trademark in South Korea, you apply for trademark protection for a trademark that consists of both verbal and figurative elements. It is important to realize that the protection only applies to the exact composition of these elements, as you presented it to the Intellectual Property Office. Do you also want to be able to use one of the separate elements and protect them separately? Then it is highly advisable to start a separate registration procedure for this.

If you decide not to switch to a separate registration, third parties can use this element without this having legal consequences for them. This can have far-reaching consequences for the image of your product or service and the turnover you make with it. When a third party offers products or services that are the same as yours, or very similar, you can object based on confusing similarity. In all other cases, your opposition’s chance of success is virtually nil.


The international Nice Classification

If you wish to register, you must clearly identify the goods and/or services in the appropriate list of classes, based on the Nice Classification of Goods and Services for Trademark Registration. The Republic of South Korea adopted this classification system in 1998. It is possible in South Korea to make an application for goods or services that fall into different classes according to this Nice Classification. So you do not have to submit separate applications, but pay additional costs for each additional class.


What is the validity of the trademark protection?

Have you been able to register your trademark in South Korea? This will then have a validity of ten years, starting from the actual registration date and – unlike many other countries – not retroactively to the date of application. Brand protection can be extended indefinitely by submitting an extension request at the end of each protection term. This can be during the last year prior to the maturity date, or in the grace period of six months after the expiration date.


Consequences for inactive trademarks

Despite the fact that South Korea has a registration system, an entrepreneur who applies for trademark protection must have a bona fide intention. Nevertheless, brands that are not (yet) used must also be registered. However, such trademarks may be subject to cancellation if they remain unused for three or more consecutive years after the registration date. To avoid waiver, use of your trademark in South Korea must be on a commercial level.


Priority Registration Requests

The right of priority can be claimed by you as an entrepreneur when your country of origin is a signatory to the Paris Convention. To exercise the right of priority, you must apply for protection of your trademark in South Korea within six months of applying elsewhere. You must submit the priority document to the intellectual property office no more than three months after your application.


International registration

Do you want to register your brand name in South Korea, but do you also plan to enter other international markets with your product or service in the short term? Then you may prefer a registration procedure via the Madrid System. Since South Korea is a member of the Madrid Protocol, extension of international registration is legally valid here. You must submit an international application at WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva.

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