In Korea, only technically sophisticated inventions are protected under the Patent Act. The Korean Utility Model Act provides protection for inventions requiring a lower degree of technical expertise.
The subject matter protected under the Utility Model Act is an industrially applicable shape and/or a structure of an article, or combinations thereof. Such shape and/or structure of an article should be described specifically by a drawing(s).
Meanwhile, inventions for processes or compositions of matters can only be protected under the Patent Act; protection under the Utility Model Act does not cover inventions for processes and compositions of matters.
Utility model applications must go through their substantive examination and the request for examination should be made within three (3) years from the date the application was filed.
An applicant may convert his utility model application to a patent application, and vice versa, in line with the adoption of the substantive examination system. The conversion application system has now replaced the dual application system of patent and utility model.
A utility model right is protected for a period from the date of registration to the date of ten (10) years from the filing date.