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South Korea to Lower Patent Fees for Startups, IP Finance Banks

Sept. 8, 2019, 11:00 PM

South Korea’s intellectual property office is preparing to reduce patent fees for select domestic and multinational businesses later this year.

The office has announced a series of patent rule changes designed to reduce costs for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, as well as banks that provide IP financing for SMEs or public research institutions.

The changes, expected to take effect in December, underscore South Korea’s overall push to support startups and smaller tech businesses and provide incentives for them to protect their inventions. The growth of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises is largely seen as a job creation opportunity in South Korea.

For startups, the changes are meant to “reduce the financial burden of obtaining patents and ensure patent rights are secured quickly,” Park Seong-cheol, deputy director of the Information and Customer Policy Division at the Korean Intellectual Property Office, said.

The changes, which come through an amendment to the nation’s Patent Act, are pending final approval from the Ministry of Government Legislation, which is expected to sign off.

IP-financing banks are targeted for a 50% reduction on annual patent maintenance fees, which banks pay when SMEs offer up their patents as loan collateral.

The halved rates should promote IP financing, which in turn would help SMEs without established credit ratings or other physical assets such as real estate, according to a Sept. 2 statement from the Korean Intellectual Property Office.

Priority screening fees for startups registering new patents are set to drop by 70%, from 200,000 won ($164.65) to 60,000 won ($49.39). Firms paying three or more years of patent maintenance fees at once would get a 10% discount.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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