This is to inform you that the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has amended the Korean Trademark Examination Guidelines (“Guidelines”) regarding the goods “software” as of January 1, 2021. According to the amended Guidelines, the goods “software” are required to be specified in terms of its purpose (e.g., “game software” or “software for vehicle navigation”) for all trademark applications filed on and after January 1, 2021. The KIPO announced that the purpose of the amendment is to reflect the market circumstances relating to software, examination practice in foreign countries, and opinions in the relevant industry.
In the past, the KIPO allowed broad descriptions of the goods “software” (such as “recorded computer software” and “software for smartphone applications”), thereby granting trademark rights for software for all purposes. However, given that software is practically used for a limited purpose, allowing the registration of a trademark for the goods “software” excessively restricted competitors from registering trademarks for software for different uses.
The amendment also obligates the examiner to consider the purpose and nature of software when examining the similarity of goods and services relating to software so that confusion with regard to the source of the compared goods and services can be avoided.
According to a KIPO official, trademark applications filed prior to January 1, 2021 will be examined based on the prior Guidelines, and thus it is not necessary to voluntarily amend the goods “software” to describe the purpose for such applications.