Searching Trademark & Service Marks in Korea: Register your Trademarks/Service Marks Prior to Doing Business in Korea

Prior to marketing products, services or a business in Korea do a thorough search for like trademarks/service marks in Korea, then, have your trademarks/service marks registered in Korea – if you don’t want the added cost of litigating a matter at a Korean court.  If you have patents, don’t forget to, also, register your patents and other intellectual property.

Korean Trademark Search Attorney
Your U.S. and E.U. trademark, service mark and patent filings are not enough. These “international filings” only gives you a grace period to file outside of these jurisdictions. 

The Korea Intellectual Property Organization has a website, in English, that has a decent search system.  Regrettably, not all of the information on the site is in English.  This search is not the end of the matter.  You should, obviously, also hire a professional to assist.

Upon filing, also, make sure you develop at strategy to protect your Intellectual Property.  Your strategy should, include, at a minimum:

  1. Comprehensive Intellectual Property Audit. 
    Audit all your intellectual property including your patents, trademarks, servicemarks, books, manuals, videos, software, know-how, and trade secrets.  The purpose of this IP Audit is to determine if all of your IP is registered and properly safeguarded.  This is discussed more at: Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Korea.
  2. Educate Korean Customs
    A few professionals in Korea, including professionals at IPG, do presentations to Customs informing Korean Customs of how to spot counterfeit products.
  3. Engage Actively Customs and the Prosecution
    If you are not on-the-ground in Korea, get a local company to assist.
  4.  Draft a Comprehensive Intellectual Property Protection Plans.
     If you don’t have an IP department or have a IP department that is not up to the task in your  company the inexpensive way to do this is to outsource the work.  Please consult with your in house attorney or a private attorney.
  5. Track Importers of Counterfeit Products into Korea
    The Prosecution, generally, does a decent job.  However, often it is advisable to employ a professional to obtain the necessary information and present the information to the Prosecution and Customs.
  6. Actively Engage your Sales Channels
    So much information can be garnered from those that are competing against counterfeiters and pirates. 
  7. Integrate the Office Outside Korea with the Korean entity. 
    All too often a Korean branch is totally out of the loop and hence unaware of developments at the home office.
  8. Trade Secrets Matter. 
    I wrote an article on protecting trade secrets in Korea that may be found at: Protecting your Trade Secrets in Korea: Top 5 Things to Know Before Subjecting your Business to the Korean Market.
  9. Search the Internet, Government Databases and Portals to Find Violators of Your IP. Get someone to do this, at least, on a monthly basis. 
  10. Get Professional Assistance
    Speaks for itself.

The Korea Intellectual Property Trademark/Service Mark search may be found at: Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at:

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw.

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