The Korean Utility Model Act ("KUMA") was first enacted
as Law No. 952 on December 31, 1961, and has undergone
sixteen revisions since then. The current version of
the KUMA, which took effect on July 1, 2002 as Law No.
6626, is composed of 11 Chapters and 86 Articles, and
is characterized by the following principles: first-to-file,
dual application, non-substantive examination, technical
evaluation, and post-grant opposition.
As in other jurisdictions adopting a utility model system,
the KUMA provides for the protection of "petty
inventions" ("ko-an," in the Korean language).
The KUMA defines a petty invention as "a creative
result of a technical concept utilizing the laws of
nature." This means that the petty invention requires
a lower standard of inventiveness than that for an invention
under the Korean Patent Act (KPA). Except for the subject
matter and term of protection, and the manner of examination,
most of the provisions under the KPA are mutatis mutandis
applied to utility models, from filing requirements
to penal provisions.
2. Unregistrable Inventions
Inventions which are similar to national flags or decorations,
and inventions which are likely to injure public order
or good morality, public health, are statutorily
3. Basic Differences from Patent
Basic differences between the utility model and the
patent systems are as follows:
(a) Subject Matter to be Protected - The subject matter
to be protected under the KUMA is an industrially applicable
article having a definite shape and/or structure, or
combinations of such articles.
(b) Necessity of Drawings - The invention claimed in
an application for a utility model registration must
always be described with reference to drawings.
(c) Non-Substantive Examination - An application for
a utility model registration is not subject to substantive
examination, except for the fundamental "formality"
(d) Term of Protection-The Term of a utility model registration commences with the date the registration is effected, and expire ten(10)years from the filing date of an application for the registration.