There are 11 boards for Trials (Each board consists of three administrative patent judges: The chief administrative patent judge and two administrative patent judges).
The three administrative patent judges in a board make decisions by a majority vote (in case of a matter of gravity, a board may expand into five administrative patent judges including the President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal).
* Patent Trial System
Significance of Patent Trial ‘Patent Trial’ refers to a procedure in which the Intellectual Property Tribunal makes an administrative judgment for the settlement of an applicant/agent’s patent-related disputes or his/her dissatisfaction with an examiner’s decision to reject his/her patent application, etc. A Patent Trial functions as the first-instance trial in the Three-Instance Patent Litigation System.
Only after a trial decision is given from the Intellectual Property Tribunal is an applicant/agent allowed to appeal to a higher court, such as the Patent Court and the Supreme Court.
(Structure of the Patent-related Disputes Trial System)
* Types of Appeals and Trial Examinations
1. Ex Parte Cases
Trial Against Ruling of Refusal or Revocation (Patent Law Article 132ter)
– When a person has received an examiner’s decision of rejection or revocation, that person may demand an appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the examiner’s decision. A provision for exception is established in cases where a person resides in an area that is remote or difficult to access. The President of the Intellectual Property Tribunal may extend the timelimit to 2 months for the benefit of a person in this situation.
Trial Against Decision to Reject Amendment
– When a person receives a decision of rejection on the basis of his amendments, he may demand an appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the decision.
– The 2001 Revised Patent Law abolished the system for requesting a trial against a decision to reject amendment (2001, 7. 1).
– The Revised Patent Law does not provide a way for applicants to demur to a decision to decline amendment, instead it offers a new provision of “Appeal against Examiner’s Decision of Refusal” (Revised Patent Law Article 51, Clause 13).
Trial against a Decision to Dismiss Application for Registration of Utility Model
– The introduction of the Quick Registration System of Utility Model made it possible to register a utility model promptly after basic requirement examination. This system allows applicants to demur to Intellectual Property Tribunal when their application for registration of a utility model has been dismissed as the result of a requirement examination.
2. Inter Parte Cases
Invalidation Trial of Patent (Patent Law Article 133)
– Due to a mistake of an examiner or appeal examiners, some patents which should not have been granted may exist.
In such cases, an interested party or an examiner may demand a trial to invalidate the patent, and for a patent containing two or more claims a demand for an invalidation trial may be made for each claim.
– The reasons for invalidation of the patent are generally the same as reasons for the rejection of a patent application.
– A trial for invalidation of a patent may be demanded even after the expiration of the patent right. Where a trial decision invalidating a patent has become final and conclusive, the patent right shall be deemed never to have existed; however, where a patent is invalidated by any reason that has arisen after the grant of a patent, the patent right is deemed not to have existed from the time when such reason originated.
Trial to Confirm the Scope of a Patent Right(Patent Law Article 135) A patentee or an interested person may demand a trial to confirm the scope of a patent right. When a trial is demanded to confirm the scope of a patent right, the confirmation shall apply to each claim if the patent contains two or more claims.
Trial for Correction (Patent Law Article 136)
– A patent holder may demand a trial for corrections to specifications or drawing for only the following reasons:
① to narrow a claim
② to correct a clerical error
③ to clarify an ambiguous description.
– However, this provision shall not apply where an opposition to the patent is pending.
– This trial is intended to protect an invention by providing the opportunity for a patentee to make corrections on the condition that there are not any unexpected losses or damages incurred upon any third parties.
– When a trial decision stating that the specifications or drawings of a patented invention are to be corrected become final and conclusive, the patent application, the laying-open of the decision and the registration of the establishment of the patent right, shall be deemed to have been made on the basis of such corrected specifications or drawings.
– Under the present provision, a trial for invalidation can be requested independently of a trial for correction.
– With the purpose of making a prompt decision, the 2001 Revised Patent Law prescribes that an applicant under a trial for invalidation should not request a trial for correction simultaneously, instead it provides an opportunity for correction in the course of the trial for invalidation (effective as of July 1, 2001).
Trial for Invalidation of Correction (Patent Law Article 137)
– An interested party or an examiner may demand a trial for an invalidation of a correction, where the specifications or drawings of a patented invention have been corrected in violation of Article 136.
– When a decision that a correction of the specifications or drawings is to be invalidated becomes final and conclusive, the correction shall be deemed never to have been made.
Invalidation Trial of Registration for Extension of Term of Patent Right(Patent Law Article 134)
– Refers to the quasi-judicial administrative procedure to invalidate the registration for extension of the term of a patent right (pursuant to Patent Law Article 134), due to any defect in the registration measure.
Trial for Granting Non-exclusive License(Patent Law Article 138)
– When a later patentee is not able to work his/her patented invention without using the patent right, of a prior patentee,
or when the prior patentee refuses to grant permission to use the patent right without justifiable reasons, the later patentee may request a trial for the grant of a non-exclusive license. To make such a request, it is required that the patented invention, of the later patentee, should constitute a substantial technical advance in comparison with the patented invention or registered utility model of the prior patentee.
* Trial ProcedureEx Parte Cases