Patent protections bolstered in South Korea

Legal protections for pharmaceutical patents registered in South Korea made significant advances in 2018, with rulings by the courts and moves by the legislature to bolster intellectual property rights for foreign firms doing business in the country.

In the most significant step forward for pharmaceutical firms, the country’s Supreme Court recognized the importance of extending patent protection to new therapeutic uses for known active ingredients, known as “second medical use” patents.

And in June, the courts for the first time established a panel specifically designated to review patent applications from foreign firms and entities. The new panel, designed to make trial proceedings more fair and smooth, allows the submission of briefs and evidence in languages other than Korean, and provides English translation of its proceedings.

The improvements to the patent regime should make it easier for businesses to litigate patent infringement claims and to seek damages. They come as the number of medical device and pharmaceutical patent applications submitted in Korea continues to rise, and as the country’s aging population becomes more susceptible to chronic diseases.