Any person who uses or intends to use a trademark in the Republic of Korea may file an application for the registration of a
trademark. Although the Korean Trademark Act adopts a registration system, not a use system, the applicant of a trademark
aplication should have a bona fide intent to use his trademark in the Republic of Korea. Nonetheless, trademarks which will not
actually be used are also registered. Such trademarks, however, will be subject to cancellation if they remain unused for three
or more consecutive years after their registration
02. Documents Required
a) The name, address and nationality of the applicant;
b) Trademark and designated goods/services;
c) The basic filing date and filing number for the priority application, and certified copy of priority documents. (if any);
d) An original Power of Attorney signed by the applicant;
03. Claim of Priority
The right of priority can be claimed in a trademark application for an applicant whose country of origin is a party to the Paris
Convention or under a bilateral agreement between two relevant governments or on a reciprocal basis. In order to enjoy the
priority right, an application should be filed in the Republic of Korea within 6 months from the filing date of the priority
application. The priority document should be submitted to KIPO within 3 months from the filing date of his/her application.
Once the application has satisfied such requirements, KIPO assigns an application number and examines as to whether or not
other formality requirements under the Trademark Act have been met. If anything is found missing or wrong, the
Commissioner of KIPO will issue a notice of amendment requesting the applicant to supplement the missing data or amend it,
and within specified a time limit. If the applicant does not comply with such request, the trademark application will be nullified.
01. Intiation of Examination
Unlike patent or utility model applications, trademark applications are automatically examined in order of their filing date. No
request for examination is needed for the initiation of substantial examination. Furthemore, the Trademark Act does not
provide for the expedited examination system which is available for patent, utility model and design applications. The
examination of a trademark application generally takes about 1 year from its filing date
02. Requirement for Registraion
For a trademark to be registered under the Trademark Act, it should meet the following requirements:
a) It should fall under the definition of a trademark prescribed in the Trademark Act:
b) It should be distinctive so as to serve as an indication of goods or services or, if it is not inherently distinctive, it should have
acquired a secondary meaning;
c) It should not fall into any of the categories of unregistrable trademark prescribed in the Trademark Act.
In addition to the reason for rejection, an opposition against the application can be filed by the owner of a trademark
registered in the territory of a member country of a treaty to which the Republic of Korea has acceded, if both the trademark
and the designated goods of the application are identical with, or similar to, those of the foreign trademark registration and if
the application is filed by a person who is, or used to be, an agent of a representative of the owner of the registered trademark
within 1 year prior to the filing date of the application concerned without obtaining the authorization or consent from the
owner of the registered trademark.
If the examiner finds no ground for rejection of a trademark application, or he considers that the rejection has been overcome
by the applicant's response (argument and/or amendment), he shall render a decision to publish the trademark application.
Once a trademark application is published in the official gazette, called the "Trademark Publication Gazette," any person may
file an opposition within 30 days from the publication date. The thirty-day period cannot be extended. A notice of opposition
containing a brief statement on the grounds for opposition must be submitted within the thirty-day period. Then, the
opponent may amend, add or supplement the grounds for opposition within 30 days after the expiration of the thirty-day
Rejection and registration procedures are same as those of patent.
The duration of the protection of a trademark right is 10 years from the date of registration of the trademark, which may be
renewed every 10 years. For the renewal of a trademark registration, an application for the renewal should be filed with KIPO.
Once a renewal application has been duly filed, the trademark registration is deemed to have been renewed on the expiration
date of the original registration.
Regardless of whether or not they are registered under the Trademark Act, well-known or famous marks are protected in the
way of barring the registration of a mark which is identical with, or similar to, such marks. An application for the registration of
such mark filed by a person other than the owner of the famous mark will be rejected; and, if the registration is erroneously
granted, it will be subject to invalidation.
Even if goods and/or service concerning a trademark application are not identical with or similar to those of a well-known
trademark, the application shall be refused due to the possibility of misleading the consumers about the origin of goods or
services. Furthermore, an interested party may request a trial or invalidation of registration of such a trademark if it has been
It is prescribed in the revised Trademark Act which became effective as of March 1, 1998 that the registration of a trademark
shall be refused when the application is made for unfair purposes, such as the aim of free-riding on the reputation of the marks
which are well-known in the Republic of Korea.
In addition to the Korean Trademark Law, the Unfair Competition Prevention Act also provides the protection of well-known
trademarks. Any person who is, or is likely to be, injured by acts of unfair competition such as acts causing confusion with
another person’s goods or business facilities by using an indication identical with or similar to another person’s name, trade
name or marks, including well-known trademarks, may bring a civill action before the court seeking an injunctive relief,
monetary damage and/or restoration of injured business reputation or goodwill. Furthermore, the Law also set forth criminal