Posted : 2017-11-05 16:18
Updated : 2017-11-05 18:28

Attorneys call 'patent attorney' a misnomer in Korea

The Korea Patent Attorneys Association (KPAA) refers to the profession as "patent attorney" on its website. / Screen capture from the association's website

By Rha Hae-sung

Korean lawyers are in disagreement over the English title of "patent attorney," saying it should be "patent agent."

The Korean Bar Association (KBA) claimed that referring to the profession as "patent attorney" was inappropriate because the term "attorney" is used to designate lawyers specifically.

The KBA filed a complaint with the Korean Intellectual Property Office on Oct. 23, demanding that the Korea Patent Attorneys Association (KPAA) replace its English title with "patent agent."

"The English version of Korean legislation has been calling the profession ‘patent attorney' to date," the KBA said in its petition to the property office.

"Such a misnomer can induce misunderstanding and chaos for both foreign and domestic legal services consumers. Because the professionals' legal works is limited to certain areas, the term ‘agent' is more suitable for the title. It should be corrected on behalf of consumers in this global era."

But the KPAA disagreed, saying its current English title left no room for controversy.

In a press release on Friday, the KPAA said the KBA's assertion was "attributable to its misunderstanding of the term ‘attorney'."

"The United Kingdom, where the English language originates, uses the title ‘patent attorney' and so do Europe and Japan. The appropriate title is thus ‘patent attorney'."

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