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Expedited Examination of Korean Trademark Applications Has Become More Difficult Post-January 1, 2024


Due to an amendment to the Trademark Enforcement Decree that took effect on January 1, 2024, the requirements for requesting expedited examination have changed, and pending applications as well as new applications will be affected. 
Due to a surge in trademark applications in recent years, it generally takes around 14 months for a trademark to be examined these days. If expedited examination is requested, examination is usually completed within three months.
To request expedited examination, the trademark applicant must meet one or more of the criteria specified in the Trademark Acts and/or the Trademark Enforcement Decree. Examples of such criteria include: the applicant is using the applied-for mark on all the goods or is clearly preparing to do so, a third party is using a mark similar or identical to the applied-for mark on similar or identical goods without lawful rights, and the applicant receives a warning from another applicant/registrant in connection with the application. Until last year, expedited examination could also be requested by submitting to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) the results of a prior trademark search conducted by a specialty agency designated by KIPO. This last basis was particularly useful for applicants who had difficulty providing objective evidence of use of the applied-for mark. 

However, starting January 1, 2024, KIPO no longer accepts a prior trademark search conducted through a specialty agency designated by KIPO as a basis for expedited examination.
Consequently, it has become more difficult for those who need to promptly secure trademark rights in Korea but encounter difficulty in meeting the other criteria for requesting expedited examination, making it even more essential to carefully plan suitable filing strategies. 

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#Trademark #2023 Issue 4