Patent registration soars in North Korea

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

While public interest in patent registration is growing in North Korea, the Pyongyang IP Center (PIPC) has emerged as a pioneer among the agencies that provide services for patent applications, the Japan-based Choson Sinbo reported from Pyongyang on January 22.

The center was first established as the Pyongyang Patent and Trademark Agency in 1982 and renamed as the PIPC in 2004.

North Korea joined the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1974 and signed the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 1980. Two years later, the PIPC became the first agency in North Korea to specialize in patent and trademark services.

Reportedly, the workload of the Pyongyang Intellectual Resource Exchange Center has been increasing every year. The increased interest in patent registration is due to a policy that requires factories and enterprises to creatively manage their business activities—having the actual right to manage based on the socialist ownership of the means of production under the ‘responsibile management system of socialist enterprises’.

One of the important tasks for them is to develop new products by technological innovation. Factories and enterprises must focus their efforts on producing goods that may represent their production units and would not suffer by comparison with any other product in the market. To develop proprietary indices that are not found in other production units, they have to find technical solutions on their own. Such efforts have led to accomplishments in technological innovation as well as to their continued interest in patent registration and the pursuit of patents.

In 2014, an exhibition hall for intellectual products was built in Pyongyang. Managed by the State Invention Office, the exhibition hall displays various inventions, patents, and scientific and technological achievements, and other intellectual products, which are highly valued and widely circulated in the country. The hall also promotes the diffusion, exchange, and distribution of new technologies through the exhibitions.

As the role of science and technology grows more important in North Korea, inventors are emerging not only from the specialized scientific research institutes but also from the factories and enterprises themselves.

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