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Any person who creates a design or his successor is entitled to file a design registration Application for the design with KIPO. The applicant may be either a natural person or a juristic person.
Documents required
A person who desires to obtain a design registration must submit to the Commissioner of KIPO the following documents:
- an application stating the name and address of the creator and the applicant (including the name of a representative, if the applicant is a juristic person), the date of submission, the name of the article on which the design is embodied, the claim and the priority data (if the right of priority is claimed);
- drawings of the design;
- if the right of priority is claimed, the priority document which is a certified copy of the priority application together with its Korean translation; and
- a power of attorney, if necessary.Documents (a) and (b) above must be submitted at the time of filing the design application. The name of a representative of the applicant may be supplemented at a later time. The priority document and power of attorney can be later submitted after the filing of the application.
Claim of Priority
The right of priority may be claimed for a design application under the Paris Convention or based on a bilateral agreement or reciprocity. A claim of priority in a design application can be made only if the design application is filed in the Republic of Korea within 6 months from the claimed priority date.
Drawings appended to a design application should contain:
- the name of the article embodying the design; and
- a description of the design and the gist of the design.The description of a design is not as important as the   specification of a patent or utility model application so long as drawings of the design are correctly and   properly prepared. In lieu of drawings, photographs, models or samples of the design may be submitted.   Drawings should contain a prospective view, a front view, a rear view, a right side view, a left side view,   a top view, a bottom view and other views(e.g. a sectional view), if necessary or useful in describing the   design. Where the article representing the design is of a flat shape, only the top and the rear views need   to be included in the drawings.
Initiation of Examination
Unlike a patent or utility model application, a request for examination of a design application is not required for the initiation of substantial examination. Design applications are automatically taken up for examination in the order of the filing date thereof. It generally takes about one year or so to complete the examination from the filing date. A request for expedited examination may be made once the design application has been laid-open upon to public inspection the request of the applicant and upon showing that it is presently being infringed.
Requirement for Registration
To be registerable under the Design Act, a design should be met the following requirements;
- It should fall under the definition of a “design” given in the Design Act ; A design which is eligible for   protection under the Design Act is defined as "the shape, pattern, color or any combination thereof in an   article which produces an aesthetic impression in the sense of sight; the same applies to a part of an   article and typefaces.
- Industrial applicability ; the designs should be mass-produced in an industrial method.
- Novelty ; the designs should not be identical or similar to the design which was publicly known or   worked or published within or outside the Republic of Korea before the application for design registration.
- Creativity ; the design should be a design which could not have been easily created by a person having   an ordinary skill in the relevant field from the shape, pattern, color or a combination thereof which was   widely known in the Republic of Korea.
- Furthermore, it should not be any of the unregistrable designs provided in Article 6 of the Design Act,   such as designs which disturb the public order or good morals and a design which is identical with or   similar to the flag, emblem of nation or public organizations.

Even if a design was published or known or worked by the applicant himself prior to the filing date of the design application therefor, it is deemed to be novel provided that the design application is filed within 6 months after the disclosure was made.
Any person who desire to have his design be presumed novel must submit a written statement to that effect to KIPO at the time of filing the design application. Any document substantiating such statement should be also submitted within 30 days from the filing date.
If a design application falls under any of the grounds for rejection enumerated in the Design Act, the Examiner must issue a notice of preliminary rejection, stating the reasons for rejection, and give the applicant an opportunity to submit a written opinion, within the specified time limit.
An applicant who is notified of the grounds for rejection may submit an Argument with or without an amendment to the specification and/or claims within a time limit designated by the examiner. Such a time limit is extendable one month at a time upon an applicant’s request.
If the examiner finds no ground for rejection or he is persuaded by the applicant's argument and/or amendment, he will render a decision to grant registration. There is no publication for opposition of a design application under the SES after the substantial examination. However, upon the registration, the design registration is published in the official gazette called "Design Registration under the SES Gazette".
If the examiner considers that the argument has not overcome the ground for rejection, he issues a Notice of Final Rejection of the patent application. Against the final rejection, the applicant may file a trial before the Intellectual Property Tribunal(“KIPT”) in KIPO within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the final rejection. The time limit for filing the trial may be extended for extra two months at the applicant’s request.
The Korean Design Law has four types of trials: Trial against Final Rejection, Trial against Decision Dismissing Amendment, Trial to Invalidate Design Registration, and Trial to Confirm Scope of Design Right. Each procedure of the Trials and Appeal against trial decision is same with that of patent
In response to the request of applicants to expedite the procedure for the registration of designs, KIPO introduced the Non-Substantial Examination System (NSES) for some short-term life-cycle products. Under the NSES, applicants may get the registration within 2 or 3 months from the filing date and enjoy new procedures such as Multiple Application, and Post-Grant Opposition for their convenience.

Currently, the NSES is applying to the products such as textiles, wallpapers, clothing, bedclothes and so forth.

Under the NSES, an applicant may file an application for twenty designs or less which fall under single class in accordance with the Korean Classification of Products for the Registration of Designs.
The documents required, such as claim of priority, drawings for the design application under the NSES is same as that of under the Substantial Examination.
However an applicant wishing to make a multiple application should submit a specification of plural designs containing matters such as serial number of designs, and drawings, names and claims of priority of each design.

The rights conferred to the design registration under the NSES in exclusive right are same as that of under SES. If the registration under the NSES is invalidated by an opposition or a trial, the right conferred to the registration under the NSES will retroactively lose effect. Furthermore, if the alleged right holder injures a person by exercising his forged right, he has to compensate for the damages regardless of his design registration under the NSES.
Under the NSES, examiners conduct formality check and examination to determine whether the design will disturb the public order or good morals only.

If the examiner finds defects in the formality mentioned above, the examiner must issue a notice of preliminary rejection stating the reason for rejection and give the applicant an opportunity, time limit to submit a written opinion or amendment within the specified. If the examiner finds no flaw in the formality examination, he will render a decision to grant registration without substantial examination.

KIPO publishes a "design registration gazette under the NSES" after the design applicant pay the registration fee. Once a design has been published in the Registration Gazette any person may file an opposition against the registration of the design under the NSES within 3 months from the publication date. The grounds of opposition are same as that of requirement of registration under the NSES; novelty, creativity, industrial applicability, and other unregistrable designs.

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