Koran IP Information: Trademarks

Trademark and Service Mark

The concept of trademark encompasses all types of marks identifying a product which are visually recognizable such as a symbol, character, diagram, three-dimensional shape, hologram marks, motion marks, or any combination of these as well as single color or combination of colors with each of these.

And a service mark is an identification mark of a service business referring to a mark used by a person who conducts a service business (advertisement, banking, restaurant etc.) to distinguish his service business from the service business of others.

Requirements for Trademark Registration

Several requirements need to be satisfied in order for a Trademark to register. The most important requirements are noted below.

1. Distinctiveness

A mark should be distinctive such that it distinguishes and identifies itself separate from products of others. Therefore, generic marks, common marks, etc. are not able to be registered.

2. Identical or Similar Marks

Identical or similar marks that are filed or registered by another prior to are unregistrable. However, if the product/service is categorized in a separate specification of goods, the mark may be registrable.

3. Famous Marks

Marks that are identical or similar to marks that are widely known (famous marks) to consumers are unregistrable. This applies irrespective of whether or not the famous mark is registered with the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Moreover, even if the specification of goods is not similar, identical or similar marks are not registrable when it is noticeable that the mark is well known.

4. Marks that may Misconceive as to Quality and Deceptive Marks

Marks that can create a misconception as to quality and as to the product as a whole and that can cause deception to consumers are unregistrable.

5. Misappropriation

Marks that use famous names, title, and likeness, etc., of another or abbreviations are unregistrable. However, if the holder consents, there is an exception and registration is permitted.

Trademark Protection

Trademarks are protected for 10 years from the date of registration. Thereafter, 10 year additional periods of protection are available as long as the request is made within the 9 to 10 year initial protection period.