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Whether you’re an inventor or a patent practitioner needing an overview of the Korean patent system, or a translator looking for help with patent terminology, there will be times when you need to find good information about the Korean patent system in English.

But finding that information is easier said than done. And finding reliable, up-to-date information in English on Korean patents and patent law is somewhere between challenging and impossible.

Almost as impossible as this cube.


Here are six of the best online resources for researching Korean patents and patent law that I have found, along with some notes on their completeness and currentness.

(Obligatory note: if you actually want to file a patent in Korea, or have some other Korean patent-related issue, you should of course secure the services of an experienced Korean patent professional. The Korean Patent Attorneys Association is a good place to start.)


Six Key English-Language Resources on the Korean Patent System



1. Country Q&A for South Korea from Thomson-Reuters

A good place to start. Covers only the basics of the Korean patent system, but covers them well. Best of all, it’s current as of August 2014. So if this has the answer to your question, you’re in pretty good shape.






2. AIPLA Patent Handbook entry for South Korea

Based on the author’s reference to the last date of amendment of the Patent Act being in 2003, this appears not to have been updated since 2005. Which is a real shame, since this is by far the most straightforward, at-a-glance view of the Korean patent system that I have encountered in any language. (And I’m happy to say that it comes from an organization of which I am a member.)

Definitely worth a look, but keep in mind that even if it answers your question, the answer may no longer be correct.






3. EPO Korea FAQ

Last updated in 2011. Thus, some information is now flatly wrong (for example, the question about software patentability does not reflect the revolutionary change to the examining guidelines that took effect in July 2014). And for that matter, some information was wrong even in 2011 — for instance, the Computer Programs Protection Act was repealed in 2009, although much of its effect has been retained by adding new provisions to the Copyright Act.

Still, despite the inevitable limitations, this is a very comprehensive set of questions and answers, with some very useful links. It can be a good place to start your inquiry. (Just don’t put your weight on it.)






4. WIPOLex Profile of South Korea

An extraordinary collection of translated Korean laws and regulations related to intellectual property. Note, however, that most of these are not the current version.

Also, if you take a close look, you’ll find that many of the less prominent laws and regulations are actually available only as machine translations. Thus, any resemblance to intelligible English is likely to be purely coincidental. And a few aren’t even available as machine translations from this page — although I suppose there’s nothing to prevent you from feeding the Korean text into Gurgle Translate.






5. English website of the Korean Intellectual Property Office

A wealth of information on the Korean patent system and procedures. Much as for all Korean government websites, however, the quality of translation may be quite uneven, and the information may be substantially (but unpredictably) out of date.







If you’re looking for information on a specific Korean patent, this is where you want to go. If you’re armed with a patent application or publication number in “10-yyyy-ddddddd” format, you can get the full Korean text, prosecution history, and English title, as well as the litigation history if applicable. KIPRIS also offers machine translation of a fairly decent quality.

If the interface confuses you, you may find this guide helpful.