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South Korea Launches Virus-Related Patent, Information Services

March 24, 2020, 5:24 PM

The South Korean government is tracking international patent trends for Covid-19-related technologies and offering quicker patent screening and other incentives to spur innovation research.

The Korean Intellectual Property Office’s online tracking service provides patent information for three categories: Covid-19 treatments or vaccines, diagnostic testing equipment, and prevention-focused face mask technologies.

The KIPO is also making several policy changes to encourage innovation and sped-up supply chains. It will give priority screening for patent applications related to Covid-19 products and may even waive patent application fees, Hyun Jae-yong, an official at KIPO, said.

“The main purpose of this service is to provide information to companies so that they can quickly create goods to respond to the coronavirus,” Hyun said. “The goal is to help domestic companies understand as much technical information as possible.”

The office has partnered with Korean banks to help companies secure IP collateral loans of up to roughly $3,900. Companies also will be able to defer patent maintenance fee payments during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The KIPO’s “patent information navigation” site will include coronavirus-related technologies developed and sold in the U.S., Japan, Europe and China. Useful information will be sent to manufacturing companies. Products being tracked include face masks, protective gloves, hazmat suits, visual body heat monitors, sanitizing equipment and diagnostic test kits for Covid-19.

The public can access the website and submit their Covid-19 product-related ideas.

The KIPO could not confirm the number of new patent applications related to the virus, Hyun said.

The online tracking service, announced March 19, also seeks to combat fake news stories, such as claims that a cure has been found. It is also warning consumers about low-quality products, such as cleaning products and face masks that don’t protect against the virus.

“We thought it was important to deliver fact-based information for companies, but also for people who are anxious about coronavirus,” Hyun said. “We’re going to focus on delivering the right information to the public.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Kasulis in Seoul at kkasulis@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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