Technical Evaluation
Filing and Registration
Enforcement of Utility Model Rights
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1. Summary
The Korean Utility Model Act ("KUMA") was first enacted as Law No. 952 on December 31, 1961, and has undergone sixteen revisions since then. The current version of the KUMA, which took effect on July 1, 2002 as Law No. 6626, is composed of 11 Chapters and 86 Articles, and is characterized by the following principles: first-to-file, dual application, non-substantive examination, technical evaluation, and post-grant opposition.

As in other jurisdictions adopting a utility model system, the KUMA provides for the protection of "petty inventions" ("ko-an," in the Korean language). The KUMA defines a petty invention as "a creative result of a technical concept utilizing the laws of nature." This means that the petty invention requires a lower standard of inventiveness than that for an invention under the Korean Patent Act (KPA). Except for the subject matter and term of protection, and the manner of examination, most of the provisions under the KPA are mutatis mutandis applied to utility models, from filing requirements to penal provisions.

2. Unregistrable Inventions
Inventions which are similar to national flags or decorations, and inventions which are likely to injure public order or good morality, public health, are statutorily unregistrable.

3. Basic Differences from Patent System
Basic differences between the utility model and the patent systems are as follows:

(a) Subject Matter to be Protected - The subject matter to be protected under the KUMA is an industrially applicable article having a definite shape and/or structure, or combinations of such articles.

(b) Necessity of Drawings - The invention claimed in an application for a utility model registration must always be described with reference to drawings.

(c) Non-Substantive Examination - An application for a utility model registration is not subject to substantive examination, except for the fundamental "formality" requirements.

(d) Term of Protection-The Term of a utility model registration commences with the date the registration is effected, and expire ten(10)years from the filing date of an application for the registration.

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