The fee for a US PCT filer to choose the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) as an International Searching Authority (ISA) is presently $1219. On October 1, 2015 it will drop to $1125.
The ISAs from which a US PCT filer may now choose include Australia, EPO, Israel, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the USPTO. Many factors might influence a client’s selection of ISA, and there is no reason that one client would always reach the same choice as the next client.
To the extent that price might be a factor for some clients, this price change for ISA/KR will not change the ranking of searching authorities by price:
- ISA/EP – $2125
- ISA/US – $2080 (large entity)
- ISA/AU – $1789
- ISA/KR – $1219 and then $1125
- ISA/US – $1040 (small entity)
- ISA/IL – $909
- ISA/JP – $577
- ISA/RU – $525
- ISA/US – $520 (micro entity)
Of course what must be kept in mind is that these are the prices for the first invention. If the PCT application contains two or more inventions then more search fees will need to be paid if those additional inventions are to be searched. And this is where ISA/KR really shines. In most of the ISAs, if you have (say) four inventions you will need to pay four times the search fee for one invention. At the EPO, for example, this would be 4 times $2125 or $8500. This situation is communicated in an Invitation to Pay Additional Fees.
But at KIPO, the second through nth inventions cost less than the first invention. They cost ₩225000 or about $192.
So if you have a case that is likely to trigger an Invitation, there is much to be said for picking Korea as your ISA. Ask yourself, by the way, if you have multiple inventions, how else would you find out which ones are patentable and which are not? Filing divisional patent applications? $192 is an extraordinary bargain compared to filing divisional patent applications.
Indeed this reminds us that there are many situations where it can make good sense to file a PCT application even if the client is quite convinced that it will never need any patent coverage other than in the US. For a patent application that is likely to get restricted multiple ways, as was just mentioned, $192 is an extraordinary bargain compared to filing divisional patent applications. And the client gets the results very early in the application process. If the client has four inventions, and this $192 investment reveals that (say) invention number three is not patentable, then the client can forgo the (non-negligible) expense of filing a US divisional application for invention number three.