Amendments to the Korean Trade Mark Act came into force on 1 September 2016. The changes represent the most comprehensive revision of the trade mark law since 1990.
The new law brings about a number of major amendments but one important change to the system is the abolition of the requirement for legal standing to commence cancellation proceedings against a trade mark registration for non-use. Under the Korean Trade Mark Law, a registered mark that has not been used in Korea for 3 consecutive years is vulnerable to cancellation. Under the old law, only an “interested party” had legal standing to file a cancellation action. The applicant for cancellation would need to show, for example, that it owned a trade mark that was the same or similar to the challenged mark or that it was in the same field of business as the proprietor of the challenged mark.
Under the new law, any party may now apply for cancellation of a mark on the basis of non-use, either in relation to the entire specification of goods/services, or in relation to certain designated goods/services. The petitioner can simply state in the application for cancellation that the mark has not been used during the past 3 years.
Since it will now be easier to file cancellation actions for non-use, it is expected that there will be an increase in petitions filed by third parties, who previously would not have had legal standing to challenge a vulnerable registration. We are writing to you as our records indicate that your portfolio includes South Korean trade mark registrations. In light of the change in the law, we recommend a review of your portfolio to assess whether any of your registrations may be vulnerable to cancellation for non-use.
We would be happy to assist you in this exercise, or to discuss any concerns you may have regarding the new Korean Trade Mark Law, or your trade mark portfolio in general.