Skip Navigation

Additional Protection for "Secret" Designs


The Design Protection Act permits an applicant for a design registration to request that the design be kept secret (i.e., defer publication of the design) for a period of up to three years from the date of the design registration (for example, if the applicant wishes to keep the design secret from competitors until it is commercially released). If granted secrecy, the design publication will exclude (i) a picture or drawing, (ii) a summary of the creative portions, and (iii) a description of the design.

Recently, the Enforcement Decree of the Design Protection Act was amended to increase protection of so-called "secret designs," by providing that additional information regarding the design may be temporarily excluded from publication. Pursuant to the amendment, the design publication now also excludes the article and class (category) of the design, in addition to the contents described above. The amendment went into effect on April 1, 2021.

In order to be granted such secrecy over a design, a petition requesting secrecy can be filed any time before the applicant pays the design registration fee. The applicant or registrant of a secret design may also reduce or extend the secrecy period, subject to the maximum three year period from the registration date. In the case of Hague applications, a petition requesting secrecy should be filed at the same time the application is filed, and publication can be deferred up to 30 months from the application date (if priority is claimed, the starting date of this period shall be the priority date). 

Secret designs are fully enforceable, but only after sending the alleged infringer a warning letter that includes a certified copy from the Korean Intellectual Property Office indicating the details of the design.  

Related Topics

#Design #2021 Issue 2