Trademark Search in South Korea

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Frequently Asked Questions
Should I file my trademark in local characters?

Yes, for a broader and stronger protection in South Korea, we recommend registering your trademark in local characters.

If the trademark is registered only in its original version (Latin characters), the protection does not always properly protect its equivalent in the local language. This means that a third party could use or register the same trademark (or a similar one) in local characters.

In additional to the legal benefits, the registration and use of the trademark in local characters can also have commercial benefits. The public in South Korea will recognize your brand more easily if they are able to read and correctly pronounce the mark.

Registering your trademark in its original version, as well as local transliteration/translation, will provide a greater protection from any possible infringements.

Is there a time frame for filing for a trademark registration?

It takes 12 – 16 months to complete the trademark application process in South Korea. It can take longer than that if there are obstacles to registration such as opposition from third parties or absolute grounds for rejection.

If I register my trademark in South Korea, do I have protection in other territories?

No. The mark will be protected only in South Korea.

Do I need to sign a Power of Attorney?

Yes. A power of attorney is needed to complete the process of trademark application.

Are there any benefits from a pre-filing use of the trademark?

Pre-filing use has minimal benefits since rights are primarily established through registration. However, it will help the applicant demonstrate distinctive qualities of the mark and win over objections on the basis of non-distinctiveness.

Will there be problems in case I don’t use my trademark after registration?

Yes. Third parties may possibly appeal for the cancellation of the trademark on the ground of non-use.

What are the types of trademark that can be registered in South Korea?

Any mark that can be replicated graphically, capable of making a good/service distinguishable from others, and can be represented visually, is accepted for registration. 

  • Names
  • Slogans
  • Words
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Sound
  • Color
  • Hologram
  • Shape (three-dimensional)
  • Device
  • Smell
  • Motion
What are the phases of application after a trademark has been filed in South Korea?

The sequence of the trademark application is as follows: 

  1. Examination – Several elements will be examined and the mark being applied for should comply in terms of:
    1. Formalities
    2. Classifications
    3. Clarity
    4. Descriptiveness
    5. Distinctiveness
    6. Deceptiveness
    7. Conflict with earlier registrations
  2. Publication – The following details will be posted online so that third parties will have the chance to file for an opposition case:
    1. Mark
    2. Name and address of applicant
    3. State/country of incorporation of applicant
    4. Citizenship of applicant
    5. Goods/services
    6. Date and number of application
    7. Information on priority claim
    8. Trademark representation
  3. Registration – The registration certificate will be issued once opposition cases are resolved and won.
What type of trademark is non-registrable?

These marks are against the trademark law of South Korea: 

  • Generic marks/terms
  • Non-distinctive marks
  • Surnames
  • Name of a geographic location
  • Use of names or flags or symbols of international organizations, states, regions and nations. Note. It can be registered if the international organization is famous
Does South Korea use the "Nice Classification" system?

Yes. South Korea applies the Nice Classification system. For trademarks that will be used for multiple classes of goods/services, a single application would suffice but multiple applications are also permitted.

Is there any possibility to claim priority in South Korea?

Yes. The home filing date can be accepted as the filing date in South Korea if: 

  • The home country is a Paris Convention signatory
  • The home filing date does not exceed 6 months prior to the date of filing in South Korea
  • If the international registration can be based in South Korea
What do I need to do to satisfy the use requirement?

To satisfy the requirement, the mark must be used within 3 years from the date it was registered or within 3 years preceding the date when the petition to cancel was filed. It must be used for commercial purposes and must occur in this jurisdiction.

Once my trademark has been registered, for how many years will be valid?

A registered mark in South Korea is valid for 10 years which is counted from the date of its registration.

What will be the renewal date of my trademark?

The renewal date is counted 10 years from the date the mark was registered.

Is it legal to use my trademark even if it is not yet registered?

Yes. It is legal to use an unregistered mark for any good or service.

Does having a registered trademark in South Korea afford me any right?

Owners must register their trademarks in order to secure rights.

What is the web address of the trademark national office?

The web address of South Korea’s national trademark office is available at:  http://www.kipo.go.kr/

Is there any need to use my trademark before I apply for registration?

It is not necessary for the applicants to use the mark or to intend to use it before applying for registration.

What are the grounds for a Trademark Application to be opposed?

A trademark application can be challenged on the following grounds: 

  • Mark is misleading, disparaging, deceptive, function, not distinctive, descriptive, or generic
  • Proprietary rights
  • Conflict with famous marks
  • Conflict with trade names
  • Conflict with a personal name
  • Conflict with a company name (applicable only if the company is well-known)
  • Registration under a different name (agent or representative) instead of the mark’s proprietor
  • Conflict with principles of morality
  • Against public order
  • Unauthorized use of national insignia and protected emblems
  • Unauthorized use of protected armorial bearing, state emblems or flags
Who can contest my trademark registration?

Anyone can contest a trademark registration.

Is it possible to cancel a registration?

Yes. The following grounds make it possible for a registration to be cancelled: 

  • Proprietary rights
  • Descriptive, not distinctive, misleading, disparaging, deceptive, functional, or generic marks
  • Conflict with famous a trade name
  • Conflict with a famous personal name
  • Use of geographical indication
  • Conflict with morality or public order
Are there any rights established by having a registered trademark?

Yes. Owners of a registered mark in this jurisdiction establish these rights: 

  • Exclusive right to use the mark
  • Right to challenge later conflicting applications
  • Right to appeal for the cancellation of a later conflicting registration
  • Right to file an infringement case against third parties that use a confusingly similar mark
  • Right to authorize and give license to third parties to use the mark
  • Right to appeal for the confiscation of fake goods bearing the mark
  • Right to receive payment from parties that infringed the mark
  • Right to file an infringement case against third parties that use the transliterated version of the mark
  • Right to object to applications that use the transliterated version of the mark
How long is the opposition period?

The opposition period starts on the date the application was published and ends two months after that date.

Is South Korea a member of the Madrid System?

South Korea is a signatory of the Madrid Protocol.

Do I need to present periodic statement of use?

No, it is not a requirement to present any filing that would set forth the owner’s use of the mark.

When should I renew my trademark?

Renewals are made every 10 years after the expiration date of the registration.

What will be the renewal date of my trademark?

The renewal date is counted 10 years from the date the mark was registered.

Is there any documentation that should be presented when renewing a trademark?

A power of attorney is necessary to renew a mark.

If my trademark expires, do I have a grace period?

A 6-month grace period is available after the mark’s expiration date.

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