Trademarks applications in South Korea are filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). The trademarks are protected under the Korean Trademark Act (KTA), and the latest revision of the KTA became effective in 2020. Usually, the registration process takes around 1 year.
One of the characteristics of trademarks in South Korea is that they follow the first-to-file rule, thus the use of a mark is not a prerequisite for filing an application. The application itself and of course the registration, serve as the applicant’s claim of ownership. Because of this, it is highly recommended that trademark owners register their marks as soon as possible.
Without registration, marks are not protected in Korea under the Trademark Act. However, KTA acknowledges widely known marks and protects them in the way of preventing others from using or applying/registering these marks such as in the case of “APPLE”, “Galaxy”, “CHANEL”, etc which are famous and well recognized by locals. The Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act (UCPA) also allows well-known marks to file an actionable legal claim against an infringer, even if they are not registered. However, the protection is very limited compared to the protection of a registered mark under the Trademark Act.
We've put together some commonly asked questions and good practices to give you more information about trademark registration and our services that you can visit anytime.