STATEMENT BY THE DELEGATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
First of all, on behalf of the Korean Industrial Property Office (KIPO) and the Delegation of the Republic of Korea, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Arpad Bogsch, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and his colleagues for their kindness in putting forward KIPO's request for appointment as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) at this PCT Assembly. We would also like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to the member States of the PCT Committee for Technical Cooperation including Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and Ireland, for their support shown to us at its nineteenth session held in Geneva from May 26 to 30, 1997. And the same thanks go to all other countries and organizations for their support and assistance extended to KIPO with reference to its appointment as a PCT/ISA and an IPEA.
We believe the recent rapid increase in both the number of PCT member States and the number of international applications via PCT procedures in member States including the Republic of Korea is the very proof that the PCT has been recognized worldwide as an easier and more convenient channel for filing patent applications abroad.
Along with a substantial increase in industrial property right applications during the past decade, the awareness of the importance of industrial property rights (IPRs) has been growing remarkably in the Republic of Korea. For instance, the number of patent applications including utility models has increased more than four times from 35,160 in 1986 to 157,480 in 1996. And even the total IPR applications has trebled from 81,922 in 1986 to 274,069 in 1996, thus placing the Republic of Korea fourth in the world in terms of IPR applications. Moreover, international applications under the PCT also have been increasing, following the same trend as national patent applications.
To cope with such a promising trend, upgrading the quality of patent search and examination has become one of the principal priorities for the Korean IPR policies. And KIPO is presently facing an increasing challenge from private companies for KIPO to take measures for a more user-friendly environment for filing PCT applications utilizing PCT procedures. We believe it is high time for KIPO to further strengthen its international role and responsibility corresponding to its status in the field of industrial property rights to bridge the advanced and the developing countries. In this respect, KIPO's becoming a PCT/ISA as well as a PCT/IPEA would be timely and could serve to meet the above demands.
Availing ourselves of this opportunity, we would like to make a brief presentation on KIPO's capability for undertaking the prospective task as a PCT/ISA and as an IPEA, focusing on the minimum requirements prescribed in Article 16(3)(c) of the PCT.
First, with regard to the requirement for patent examination personnel, KIPO has continuously and substantially increased the number of patent examiners in order to effectively cope with the remarkable increase in patent applications, despite the trend of strict control over the increase in the number of staff of the public sector under the "small government" policy. KIPO has presently about 400 fulltime patent examiners with sufficient academic and professional qualifications to carry out international-type searches and examinations.
Almost all examiners have a good command of at least one foreign language. In particular, 120 examiners holding a doctorate degree were recently recruited to undertake examinations with respect to the newly emerging areas of technology including biotechnology and computer-related technology.
Moreover, in order to cope effectively with the ever increasing number of IPR applications, consultations were held with the authorities concerned in the Government of the Republic of Korea with a view to a further increase of more than 200 persons next year, and we are planning to increase the total number of patent examiners to over 800 by the year 2000.
In addition to the increase in the number of patent examiners, KIPO has also made every effort to further enhance the quality of examination through a series of intensive training programs. Before becoming a patent examiner, the prospective examiner must complete a series of intensive training courses to acquire all the necessary professional knowledge and skills including IPR-related laws, patent classification, and the guidelines for patent search and examination. Even after becoming an examiner, he or she is required to take supplementary training courses in the third and the fifth years in order to keep informed of new information and knowledge in the related field of intellectual property as well as the technology concerned.
KIPO has also established and implemented the so-called "Examiner Evaluation System" to ensure high quality of examination by providing incentives to the prominent examiners who obtain high points in the evaluation.
While strengthening the examination staff, KIPO has also made every effort to accelerate and upgrade computerization of patent search and examination with the aim of reducing pendancy time and improving efficiency substantially in IPR processing.
Since the launch of the first comprehensive computerization plan in 1989 with the assistance of WIPO, KIPO's computerization project has successfully progressed. In spite of many difficulties arising from the lack of experienced experts and sufficient funding as well as necessary facilities, concerted efforts have been made to implement the computerization as planned. As a result, a number of computerized subsystems were developed and successfully employed in the area of administrative processing, and patent search and examination.
KIPO will continue to make efforts to further improve computerization, including the continuous upgrading of computer-aided search and examination, so as to ensure efficiency and quality in patent search and examination.
And, now pertaining to the requirement for the minimum documentation, KIPO has continued a series of restructuring and has strengthened the function of documentation and information. For instance, the Documentation Division has been operating since 1977 collecting patent documents and non-patent literature, classifying them for easier access by patent examiners and providing an information service to the public. In 1991, KIPO created the Information and Documentation Bureau with the aim of further facilitating the task of systematic collecting, processing and utilizing patent information and documentation, under the envisaged computerization of patent administration.
As a result of systematic and continuous efforts, KIPO has now collected a wide range of information resources from 35 countries and three international organizations. As of September 1997, KIPO is in possession of more than 48 million patent documents in the form of paper, microfilm or other electronic format like CD-ROM.
The collected paper patent documents have been processed and classified complying with the International Patent Classification (IPC) from the early 1980's, replacing the previous Korean Patent Classification into the examiner search files.
The documents in the search files contain the full text of patent specifications of more than 36 million cases of 16 countries including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as of four organizations, namely, ARIPO, the EPO, OAPI and WIPO, together with the patent abstracts of 18 countries.
In addition to the paper documents, KIPO has extensive collections of electronic documents, loaded on microfilms as well as on CD-ROMs. KIPO possesses microfilm documents for more than six million cases of nine countries like Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as of two organizations, that is, the EPO and WIPO. There are also over five million cases on CDROMs of 12 leading countries and three organizations, like the EPO and WIPO.
Furthermore, KIPO operates 56 CD-ROM workstations, together with about 400 personal computers equipped with a CDROM drive. KIPO also plans to provide a PC equipped with a CDROM drive to each examiner by the end of this year, so that the examiners can conduct searches or other work related to examination utilizing CD-ROMs or other electronic formats.
KIPO has also established a database system for the World Patent Index (WPI) and the First Page Data Base (FPDB), and a retrieval system for the patent examiners to utilize the data published by Derwent Information Ltd. and the EPO. The WPI database contains more than six million cases of 35 countries and two organizations going back to 1963, the contents of which are bibliographic data, drawings and abstracts in English, while FPDB encompasses patent documents of the EPO, Japan and the United States of America.
As for non-patent literature, KIPO has so far collected 68 periodicals among the list of 135 established under PCT Rule 34.1(b)(iii). Accordingly, to supplement the gap, KIPO has made arrangements for the patent examiners to have access to the non-patent literature via the retrieval system provided by the Korean Institute of Industry and Technology Information (KINITI). However, as KIPO is scheduled to move in 1998 to Taejon, which is located about 150 kilometers away to the south of Seoul, KIPO is planning to subscribe to 68 additional periodicals next year which are not currently available in order to meet the requirement for the non-patent literature.
We are pleased to inform you that KIPO's plan for obtaining the missing documents listed in Appendix I of document PCT/A/XXIV/4, has been progressing as scheduled, thanks to the kind cooperation of the foreign patent Offices concerned.
With respect to item 1, documents issued by Australia, we will purchase them from the Australian Industrial Property Organisation (AIPO).
And as regards item 2 through item 6, documents issued by Austria, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, the European Patent Office has agreed to provide us with those documents at a reasonable price, which are loaded on the Bacon Numerical System (BNS). We have already contacted the Offices concerned for their formal approval of the delivery of their documents on BNS via the EPO.
Once again, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Australian Industrial Property Organisation and the European Patent Office as well as the patent Offices of Austria, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for their kind cooperation extended to us for obtaining the supplementary documents.
While hoping these Offices will continue to grant assistance by donating or selling to KIPO the missing parts of the minimum documentation they published, we anticipate that we will be able to complete the collection of those documents by the first half of next year.
In conclusion, we would like to assure all of you that KIPO has already established a sufficient qualified examining force and extensive documentation system for meeting almost all of the minimum requirements to be a qualified PCT/ISA and IPEA. The remainder of the documents for the minimum documentation will be secured in the shortest period of time. Encouraged by the recommendation of PCT/CTC for KIPO to be a prospective PCT/ISA and IPEA, as well as the successful progress in our preparations thus far, we sincerely request your full support for KIPO's appointment as a PCT/ISA and an IPEA.
Once again, we would like to express our appreciation to Dr. Bogsch, Director General of WIPO, and the members of the International Bureau for their excellent arrangements and cooperation for this meeting.
[Annex III follows]