Judicial Administration Structure for IP Disputes: Republic of Korea

Information provided by:
The International IP Law Research Center of the IP High Court

Supreme Court
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IP High Court     image High Courts (6)   Appellate Divisions of District Courts (19)
image   image   Appeals on preliminary injunctions   image   image
Intellectual Property Trial and Appeals Board (IPTAB)
(administrative instance)
  District Courts (6)1 image     District Courts (58)
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Administrative Jurisdiction
Validity of patent, trademark, and design cases, such as: refusal, invalidation confirmation of the scope of rights, correction, cancellation
  Civil Jurisdiction
Civil infringement of patent, trademark, and design cases, including: damages, preliminary injunction, permanent injunction
  Civil Jurisdiction
Civil infringement of copyright
  Criminal Jurisdiction
Criminal infringement of patent, trademark, copyright and design cases
1 District Courts with exclusive jurisdiction: Daejeon, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Suwon and Seoul Central (concurrent jurisdiction)

The Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (IPTAB) of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) reviews administrative cases on patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks, among others. The administrative cases include appeals from decisions of refusal by KIPO examiners, cases to invalidate registered rights or to confirm the scope of rights, or cases seeking correction (amendment) of specifications or drawings. Judicial proceedings to revoke the resulting IPTAB decisions fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the IP High Court of Korea.

Before 2016, the exclusive jurisdiction of the IP High Court of Korea was limited to the cases seeking revocation of IPTAB decisions whereas the jurisdiction for first- and second-instance civil cases was respectively vested in district and high courts across the country. From January 1, 2016, following the amendment of the Civil Procedure Act and the Court Organization Act, jurisdiction for disputes relating to certain intellectual property rights, referred to as "patent and other IP rights (patents, utility models, designs, trademarks, and plant varieties)" is concentrated as follows: As for the first-instance cases in civil lawsuits, six district courts (Seoul Central, Daejeon, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju and Suwon) exercise exclusive jurisdiction, with the Seoul Central District Court having concurrent jurisdiction. The appeals from the main proceedings thereof now fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the IP High Court of Korea, whereas the appeals from preliminary injunction cases still go to the high courts. Meanwhile, all copyright cases, and criminal cases concerning patent, trademark or design rights, are not subject to the above jurisdictional concentration but follow the regular track of ordinary civil and criminal procedures. These cases are filed with one of the 58 district courts in the first instance. As for appeals, copyright cases are appealed to high courts, while criminal cases on patent, trademark, or design rights are appealed to appellate divisions of the district courts. In all cases, the Supreme Court of Korea serves as the court of last resort.

The administrative cases before the IPTAB and the revocation cases before the courts are not interlinked, as the first- and second-instance cases in the judicial proceedings are. Therefore, the arguments or evidence submitted to the IPTAB are not deemed as filed in the judicial proceedings and the parties must submit them in the litigation anew.

For well-grounded judgments, backed by technological expertise, the IP High Court of Korea and the Seoul Central District Court employ full-time technical examiners and maintain a pool of advisors in each technical field. Moreover, the IP High Court of Korea and the Seoul Central District Court have International Divisions that allow the parties to argue their cases in the permitted foreign language, and use court-provided interpretation services, or submit briefs and evidence in the foreign language without translation. An application to bring the case to the International Division may be filed when: a party to the lawsuit is a foreigner or a foreign company; there is a need to examine material evidence in a foreign language; or there are other circumstances with equivalent international implications. Mutual consent of the parties and the permission by the International Division must be obtained.

The webpage of the Supreme Court of Korea publishes statistics concerning the various judicial bodies, including those in the area of industrial property.


The most recent yearly figures for revocation cases and civil appeals received and handled by the IP High Court of Korea are the following: