Procedures for Registering a Design

Currently, the Design Protection System in the Republic of Korea is in transition from Substantial Examination System (SES) to

Non-Substantial Examination System (NSES).

In response to the request of applicants to expedite the procedure for the registration of designs, KIPO revised the Design Law,

introducing the Non-Substantial Examination System for some short-term life-cycle products as of March 1, 1998.

Under the NSES, applicants may get the registration within 3 months from the filing date and enjoy new procedures such as

Multiple Application, and Post-Grant Opposition for their convenience.

Even though the applications under the NSES are not examined substantially, the requirements for the registration and the

effects of rights are same with those of under the SES. The registrations under the NSES which do not fulfill the requirementsv

will be invalidated through the Post-Grant Opposition or Trial.

Currently, the products applied to the NSES are few. However, KIPO will gradually extend the scope of the products which are

applied to the NSES, if this trial is successful.

Substantial Examination System (SES)
Filing an Application

01. Documents Required

a) The drawings of the design;

b) The description of the design and the abstract of the design;

c) The basic filing date and filing number for the priority application, and certified copy of priority documents. (if any);

d) The name, address and nationality of the creator(s)/applicant(s) and the representative of a company/legal entity;

e) An original Power of Attorney signed by the applicant;

02. Claim of Priority

The right of priority may be claimed for the design application under the Paris Convention or based on a bilateral agreement

or reciprocity. A claim of priority in a design application can be made only if the design application is filed in the Republic of

Korea within 6 months from the claimed priority date.

03. Drawings

Drawings should contain a prospective view, a front view, a rear view, a right side view, a left side view, a top view, a bottom

view and other views(e.g. a sectional view), if necessary or useful in describing the design. where the article representing the

design is of a flat shape, only the top and the rear views need to be included in the drawings.

Formality Examination

Once a design application is submitted to KIPO, it will be checked to ensure that all requirements necessary to accord the

application a filing date have been satisfied.

Once the application has satisfied the requirements, KIPO assigns an application number and examines as to whether or not

other formality requirements under the Design Act have been met.

The procedure dealing with the formality examination of a design application is the same as that of a patent application.

Early Publication per Request

A design application may, upon the request of the applicant, be published in the official gazette entitled "Design Laid-open

Gazette". Such request for publication may not be made once the applicant has received a copy of the first final decision of

approval or rejection of application.

Once a design application has been laid-open to public inspection, any person may submit to KIPO information relevant to the

registrablility of the design concerned together with any supporting evidence.

Substantive Examination

Unlike a patent or utility model application, a request for examination of a design application is not required for the initiation of

substantive examination. Design applications are automatically taken up for examination in the order of the filing date thereof.

It generally takes about one year or so to complete the examination from the filing date. A request for expedited examination

may be made once the design application has been laid-open upon to public inspection the request of the applicant and upon

showing that it is presently being infringed.

To be registerable under the Design Act, a design should be meet the following requirements;

01. It should fall under the definition of a design given in the Design Act;

a design which is eligible for protection under the Design Act is defined as “the shape, pattern, color or any combination

thereof in an article which produces an aesthetic impression on the sense of sight. Therefore, to be protected under the Design

Act, a design should be embodied on an article. The term ”artlcle” is generally considered as a tangible, movable and

independent thing.

02. Industrial applicability;

the designs should be mass-produced in an industrial method.

03. Novelty;

the designs should not be identical or similar to the design which was publicly known or worked or publiched within or outside

the Repulic of Korea before the application for design registration.

04. Creativity;

the designs could not have been easily created by a person having an ordinary skill in the relevant field from the shape, pattern,

color or a combination thereof which was widely known in the Republic of Korea.

05. Furthemore,

it should not be any of the unregistrable designs provided in Article 6 of the Design Act, such as designs which disturb the

public order or good morals and a design which is identical with or similar to the flag, emblem of nation or public


Even if a design was published or known or worked by the applicant himself prior to the filing date of the design application.

Therefor, it is deemed to be novel provided that the design application is filed within 6 months after the disclosure was made.

Any person who desires to have his design be presumed novel must submit a written statement to that effect to KIPO at the

time of filing the design application. Any document substantiating such statement should be also submitted within 30 days

from the filing date.

Rejection and Registration

If a design application falls under any of the grounds for rejection enumerated in the Design Act, the Examiner must issue a

notice of preliminary rejection, stating the reasons for rejection, and give the applicant an opportunity to submit a written

opinion, within the specified time limit.

If the examiner finds no ground for rejection or he is persuaded by the applicant's argument and/or amendment, he will render

a decision to grant registration. There is no publication for opposition of a design application under the SES after the

substantial examination. However, upon the registration, the design registration is published in the official gazette called

"Design Registration under the SES Gazette".

If the examiner considers that the applicant's argument is without merit and the ground for rejection has not been overcome,

the examiner will issue a notice of final rejection of the design application.

Non-Substantial Examination System

01. Multiple Application

Under the NSES, an applicant may file an application for twenty designs or less which fall under single class in accordance with

the Korean Classification of Products for Registration of Designs.

The documents required are same as that of under the Substantial Examination.

02. Formality Examination and Registration

Under the NSES, examiners conduct formality check and examination to deaermine whether the design will disturb the public

order or good morals only.

The formality check on the design application under the NSES is same as that of under the SES.

If the examiner finds a flaw in the formality mentioned above, the examiner must issue a notice of preliminary rejection

stating the reason for rejection and give the applicant an opportunity to submit a written opinion or amendment within the

specified time limit. If the examiner finds no flaw in the formality examination, he will render a desision to grant registration