One question that comes up often when I am teaching a PCT class is “how do I send money to ISA/KR?” The usual way that this question comes up is that you might select ISA/KR and then receive an Invitation to pay additional fees (“ITPAF”). This blog article describes a quite easy and inexpensive way to send money to ISA/KR.
An ITPAF is the PCT counterpart to a Restriction Requirement in a US patent application. One of the nicest things about the PCT is that it permits the filer to pay the additional fees, and then the ISA will examine all of the inventions. No matter what the amount of the additional fees might be, it is still cheaper than the legacy approach of filing one divisional after another in the USPTO until all of the inventions have been examined.
So as a general matter I think it is almost always a smart business decision for any PCT applicant, when invited to pay additional fees, to pay the additional fees.
A similar question might arise if a PCT filer were to file a Demand to IPEA/KR, namely how may one send money to IPEA/KR? And just as with ISA/KR, I suggest that in general it is probably a good idea to pay the additional fees if one were to receive an ITPAF from IPEA/KR.
Which is all fine and good but as many people have pointed out to me over the years, it is not necessarily easy or inexpensive to pay those additional fees. In this modern world of fintech startups and internet apps that try to bypass banks, there are many ways to send money back and forth that did not exist just a few years ago.
Yes many US people are by now accustomed to Zelle and Venmo as ways of transferring money. But Zelle cannot be used to send money out of the US.
And some US people are accustomed to smart-phone-app-based systems that can be used to send small sums of money internationally. But most of those systems are not capable of being used to send money to corporations or government entities.
Legacy wire-transfer companies like Western Union and Afex make it possible to send bank wires around the world and the money can be (and usually is) being sent to businesses. But opening an account with either of these companies can take weeks and requires dozens of pages of intrusive paperwork, copies of tax returns, and waiting and waiting to hear back during the account-opening process.
Western Union charges eye-wateringly unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates in its bank wires. In a recent comparison of ways to send ten thousand Swiss Francs to WIPO, I found that Western Union charged $700 more than Afex.
ISA/KR and IPEA/KR are, of course, the same as the Korean Intellectual Property Office (“KIPO”). So the general question is, how may a PCT filer conveniently and inexpensively send money to KIPO?
It would be nice if some way could be found to send money overseas that would satisfy many goals:
- only minimal paperwork to open an account
- no charge to open the account
- fast turnaround when opening the account
- able to send money to businesses and government entities such as patent offices
- favorable foreign currency exchange rates
- modest bank fees
One option that seems to satisfy all of these goals is TransferWise. I heard about TransferWise from alert listserv member Dov Rosenfeld, and prompted by his suggestion, I tried it out. It took only about 48 hours to open a TransferWise account with both personal and law firm profiles, with almost no paperwork required. Yes I had to send in a scan of my passport. Yes I had to go back and find the exact date that I set up the LLC for the law firm. But it was a breeze compared with the dozens of pages of paperwork required to open an account with Western Union or Afex. And it was fast (just 48 hours or so) compared with the 10-20 days required for Western Union or Afex.
It turns out to be super easy to send money to KIPO through TransferWise.
The first step is to set up what TransferWise calls a “recipient”. (This is what Western Union or Afex would call a “beneficiary”.) In TransferWise you click on “add recipient”. Then answer a few questions:
- currency: KRW
- recipient type: business
- their email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- name of the business: Korean Intellectual Property Office
- Recipient Bank Name: NongHyup Bank (농협은행) 
- Account number: 67601011484
- click “confirm”
That’s it. Now you can easily and inexpensively send money to KIPO, while sitting at home in your pajamas.
It is also super easy to set up TransferWise to send money to WIPO:
- to send Swiss francs, use IBAN CH51 0483 5048 7080 8100 0
- to send €, use IBAN CH33 0483 5048 7080 8200 3
Have you used TransferWise to send money to a patent office? Have you used TransferWise to pay a foreign agent? How did it go? Please post a comment below.