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Prerequisites for acquiring design rights
To register a design, the design should meet the substantial requirements including i) novelty, ii) creativity, iii) industrial applicability, and iv) non-violation of the enlarged concept of novelty. However, if there are two or more applications which meet the above requirements, only the first application can be registered.

However, a design filed based on the Non-Substantive Examination System (NSES) is not examined for i) novelty, ii) creativity, iii) the enlarged concept of novelty, or iv) the first-to-file system, but is instead examined only for a formality check including i) formal requirements, ii) industrial applicability, and iii) other unregistrable grounds.

To ensure the safety of non-substantive examination design rights, the Act was revised on July 2007 to refuse a design easily created by widely known domestic designs.
Industrial applicability
1. Concept
"Industrial Applicability" refers to articles with the same design that can be produced in large quantities by industrial production methods.
"Industrial Production Methods" include both mechanical and manual production methods.
"Mass production of the articles with the same design is possible" means the articles are not completely identical, but has similarities to the extent that the appearance is seemingly identical.
Therefore, to meet the "Industrial Applicability" requirement, the article related to the design in an application should be reproducible and the subject of intended mass production from the beginning.
2. If there is no industrial applicability
Things for which the design is used as it is and so cannot be produced in large quantities
Works related to pure art
1. Concept
Novelty signifies that the design is not carried by publications or catalogues before application, publicized through sales or exhibition, or exposed to a condition in which someone can identify it.
2. Exception of a loss of novelty
If a design owned by a person entitled to design registration is publicly known, worked, or described in the Republic of Korea or foreign country and the person files the application for the design within six months of the date on which the design was publicly known, worked or published, etc., it is deemed not to lose novelty.
To obtain such benefit, the applicant shall specify the purport of such intention on an application for design registration and submit it to the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office with documentary evidence within 30 days of the filing date of the application for design registration.
1. Concept
The creativeness of a design signifies that a person with ordinary skill in the art cannot easily create a given design by internationally or domestically known designs, by domestically well-known shapes, patterns, colors, or a combination thereof.
2. Design to be easily creatable
(A)Non-creative designs based on widely known shapes or patterns:
When the design uses common shapes like triangles, rectangles, circles, and regular polyhedrons as they are;
When the design simply rearranges common patterns (e.g. checkerboard pattern, polka dots, etc.)
(B)Non-creative designs based on natural objects, famous works, famous buildings, famous landscapes
(C)Non-creative designs based on known designs
When the design illegally uses a design known widely through publications or broadcasts (e.g.TV) in the related industry
When the shape and pattern of famous automobiles are illegally applied to toys
When the shape and pattern of ET dolls are illegally applied to a coin bank
When a known radio shape is combined with a known watch shape
(D)Non-creative design based on the combination of publicized designs
When part of the design components are converted into other designs
When the design is configured into one design by a combination of multiple designs
When the design simply rearranges common design components
3. Unregistrable designs
Even if the aforementioned requirements are satisfied, designs falling under any of the following cannot be registered:
(1) Designs which are identical or similar to national flags, national emblems, military flags, decorations, orders of merit, badges and medals of public organizations, national flags and national emblems of foreign countries or characters or indications of international organizations
(2) Designs which are liable to contravene public order or morality
Designs which are derogatory to specific countries or their people
Designs which are liable to vulgarity, aversion, or contravene public morals
Designs which are contrary to morality
Designs which are liable to contravene other relations of international confidence or fair competitive order
(3) Designs which are liable to create confusion over articles connected with another person's business
Designs which use another person's well-known trademarks, service marks, collective marks, or business emblems (including 3-D trademarks)
Designs which use marks of non-profit corporations
(4) Designs which include only indispensible shapes to secure the function(s) of articles
The function of articles refers to technical function(s) and registration cannot be permitted for i) designs which are composed of shapes (inevitable shapes) designated duly to secure the technical function(s) of articles; or ii) designs which are composed of shapes (semi-inevitable shapes) designated by standardized size to secure the compatibility of articles.
4. First-to-File Rule
Under the first-to-file rule, when two or more applications relating to the same or similar designs are filed on different dates of application, only the applicant with the earlier filing date may obtain registration for the design.
Exclusive rights are granted to the applicant of design rights. Therefore, when two or more applications relating to the same or similar designs are coincidentally created and filed on different dates, the design registration is granted to the first applicant so only that person has exclusive rights.
However, when a design application is revoked or cancelled, it is regarded as being excluded from the first-to-file rule from the beginning.
Also, if abandonment of a design application occurs, a refusal decision is made, or a trial decision for refusal is finalized, it is regarded as being excluded from the first-to-file system from the beginning.
Read more about Korean Patent here :
Korean Design System
What is a Korean Industrial Design?
Information on the Design System
Requirements for a Korean Design Definition
Prerequisites for Acquiring Design Rights in Korea
Korean Design Rights
Application Procedure for Design in Korea
Substantive Examination System
Non-Substantive Examination System
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