Trademarks(including Service Marks) may be protected in Korea under the Trademark Act; and for such protection, marks should be registered with the Korean Intellectual Property Office ("KIPO"). The use of a trademark is not a prerequisite for filing an application for the registration of a trademark. Unregistered marks are not protected under the Trademark Act, although the owner of a well-known or famous mark is given some protection under the Trademark Act by way of preventing others from obtaining a trademark registration for an identical or similar mark. There is no course of action against infringement of a well-known or famous unregistered trademark under the Trademark Act, but an action may be brought under the Unfair Competition Prevention Act. The Korean Trademark Law is characterized by : i) First-to-File Rule ; ii) Substantive Examination iii) Pre-grant Opposition
(1) Regardless of whether or not they are registered under the Trademark Act, well-known or famous marks are protected by way of barring the registration of a mark which is identical with, or similar to, such marks. An application for the registration of such mark filed by a person other than the owner of the famous mark will be rejected; and, if the registration is erroneously granted, it will be subject to invalidation. (2) Even if goods and/or service concerning a trademark application are not identical with or similar to those of a well-known trademark, the application shall be refused due to the possibility of misleading the consumers about the origin of goods or services. Furthermore, an interested party may request a trial or invalidation of registration of such a trademark if it has been registered.