What is trademark in South Korea?

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Trademark in South Korea is the sign that can be reproduced graphically and is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person or entity form another.

Registrable trademarks

The following signs are registrable as trademark:

  • words;
  • names;
  • devices;
  • certain three-dimensional shapes;
  • colors;
  • slogans (in certain circumstances);
  • sounds;
  • smells (olfactory trademarks);
  • holograms;
  • motion;
  • taste;
  • touch;

The followings are not the signs of registrable as trademarks:

–           Marks contrary to moral standards or public order;

–           Generic terms;

–           Names, flags or symbols of states, nations, regions or international organizations;

–           Non-distinctive trademarks, absent a showing of acquired distinctiveness ( secondary meaning)

–           Marks that function principally as surnames;

–           Marks that function principally as geographic location names( but not geographical indications or appellations of origin).

Time frame for obtaining the trademark registration

The approximate time for application to a trademark registration in South Korea is about approximately 12-16 months, including 4 stages:

–           Formality examination: The Trademark Office shall examine application’s formality.

–           Substantive examination: The Trademark Office shall examine trademark’s distinction from others.

–           Publishing the application: The Trademark Office shall publish the application through publication and online. Within two months (non-extendable) since publishing the application, any third parties may fill an opposition against the holder’s trademark if having legitimate reasons

–           Granting certificate: Finally, after the trademark is registered successfully without opposition, the holder is granted a protection certificate and their trademark is protected in 10 years from the time of filling the application.

Why you need to register trademarks in South Korea:

According to Korean law, trademark registration is not mandatory; but having a registered trademarks has helps gain many advantages :

  • The sole ownership of trademark.
  • Providing prima facie evidence of ownership and validity
  • It provides national protection
  • Allows the ownership trademarks to use “ Registered Trademark” or other suitable terms or abbreviations to demonstrate the ownership of the trademark.
  • Helps to prevent others from unlawfully using the trademark
  • Allows the registrant access to bring actions in particular courts;
  • It provides a defense to infringement;
  • Enforcement of an unregistered trademark is more difficult and more costly than enforcement of a registered trademark;
  • It confers the ability to recover maximum monetary damages for infringement;
  • It encourages licensees and provides the opportunity to generate royalties through licensing.

Please click here to know the fee of trademark registration in South Korea. Also, you can visit here to see the procedures and required documents for trademark registration in South Korea.

Fees for registering trademark in South Korea

Required Documents for register TM in South Korea


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