1. Overview
Characteristics of the Korean System
(1) First-to-File Rule (2) Publication of Unexamined Application (3) Request for Examination
2. Filing an Application
(1) Applicant
Either the inventor of an invention or his assignee can file a patent application for the invention with KIPO. The applicant may be either a natural person or a juristic person.

(2) Documents Required
(a) an application stating the name and address of the inventor and the applicant the title of the invention, and priority data (if the right of priority is claimed);
(b) a specification setting forth the following matters: the title of the invention; a brief description of drawings (if any); a detailed description of the invention; and claim(s);
(c) drawing(s), if any;
(d) an abstract;
(e) if the right of priority is claimed, the priority document which is a certified copy of the priority application together with its Korean translation(whenever an applicant is requested to submit a Korean translation of a priority document) ; and
(f) a power of attorney, if necessary.

(3) Claim of Priority
In order to enjoy the priority right, an application should be filed in the Republic of Korea within 1 year from the filing date of the priority application. The priority document above mentioned may be submitted within one year and four months from the priority date.
3. Formality Examination
When a patent application is submitted to KIPO, it is checked to ensure that all requirements necessary to accord the application a filing date have been satisfied.
4. Laying open of Publication for Public Inspection
Applications that have not yet been published will be automatically laid-open in the official gazette called "Patent Laid-open Gazette" after 18 months from the filing date in the Republic of Korea or, if the right of priority is claimed from an earlier foreign filing, from the priority date.

The laid-open publication may be made, upon the request of the applicant, prior to the eighteen month period. This will provide an earlier protection to a patent application which is being infringed.

Once a patent application has been laid-open, any documents relating to the application are made available for public inspection. Any person may submit to the Commissioner of KIPO information relevant to the patentability of the invention concerned together with any supporting evidence. (Information can be provided before a patent application is laid-open)
5. Substantial Examination
(1) Request for Examination
A patent application will be taken up for examination only if a request for examination is made either by the applicant or by any interested party within 5 years (3 years in case of an utility model application) from the filing date of the application. If no request for examination is made within this five-year period (3 years in case of an utility model application), the patent application is deemed to have been withdrawn. Once a request for examination has been duly filed, it cannot be withdrawn. A patent application is taken up for examination in the order of filing the request for examination thereof.

(2) Requirement for Registration
For a patent to be registered under the Patent Law, it should meet the following requirements;
(a) the definition of invention under the Patent Act
(b) It should have Novelty, Industrial Applicability, and Inventive Step
(c) It should not fall into any of the categories of unregistrable patent prescribed in Article 32 of Patent Act.

6. Accelerated Examination
According to Article 61 of the Patent Act, the Commissioner of KIPO may have a particular category of patent application examined ahead of other patent applications.
7. Decision as to grant a patent right
If the examiner finds a ground for rejection of a patent application, a notice of preliminary rejection will be issued; and the applicant will be given an opportunity to submit a response to the preliminary rejection within a time limit designated by the examiner. Such time limit is extendable upon the request for an extension by the applicant.

In responding to the preliminary rejection, the applicant may file an argument with or without an amendment to the specification and/or claims. If the examiner determines that the argument is without merit and the ground for rejection has not been overcome, he will issue a notice of final rejection of the patent application.

If no grounds are found for rejecting a patent application, the examiner shall grant a patent right.
8. Re-examination
Where a person has received a decision to refuse a patent, the person may request re-examination with the amended description or drawing(s) attached to a patent application within the thirty-day period immediately after the date on which the certified copy of the decision was received.
9. Registration
When a patent applicant receives a notice of decision to grant a patent he should pay, as a registration fee, the first 3 years' annuities within 3 months from the date of receipt of such notice.
10. Appeal and Trial
The applicant may lodge an appeal against the examiner's final rejection within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice of final rejection. Any party which doubts the validity of a right may request a trial for invalidation of patent.

Such appeal and trial procedure are conducted in the Industrial Property Tribunal which was established by merging the former Trial Board and Appeal Board as of March 1, 1998 in KIPO.

The Industrial Property Tribunal's decision may be appealed to the Patent Court which was also established as an appellate level court and has been operating from March 1, 1998.

An appeal against the Patent Court's decision may be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
11. International Application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty
The Republic of Korea Joined the Patent Cooperation Treaty ("PCT"), Chapter I in 1984 and Chapter II in 1990. Therefore, an international application under the PCT can be filed directly with KIPO or the International Bureau of WIPO.

(1) Filing of International Application in the Republic of Korea
An international application can be filed with KIPO by a national of the Republic of Korea or a foreigner having an address or a place of business in the Republic of Korea. The applicant must submit to the Commissioner of KIPO a request form, description, claims, drawings (if any) and abstract which are to be prepared in Korean or English or Japanese.

(2) Entry into the National Phase for the Republic of Korea (KR)
In order for an international application filed under the PCT designating the Republic of Korea ("KR") to enter into the national phase, the following documents must be submitted to KIPO within 31 months, from the priority date.

(a) an application stating the name and address of the applicant, the name and residential or business address of inventor and the agent(if any), the international filing date and the international application number, the title of the invention, and priority data (if the right of priority is claimed);
(b) a Korean translation of the description, claims, text matter of drawings and the abstract of the international application as filed on the international filing date;
(c) drawing(s), if they contain translated text matte; and
(d) a power of attorney, if necessary.

If any amendment to the international application has been added with the International Bureau of WIPO or with the International Preliminary Examining Authority during the international phase, a Korean translation of the amendment should also be submitted at the time of entering into the national phase in the Republic of Korea.

According to patent practice in the Republic of Korea, the national phase must be entered with an exact Korean translation of the original international application as initially filed. Therefore, an amendment which has not been formally effected during the international phase cannot be filed at the time of entering into the national phase. It can, however, be submitted at a later time, after national fees have been paid, a translation of the application has been submitted and the relevant date (31 months from the priority date or the date of the request for an examination, whichever occurs first.) has passed.