The first-to-file rule and the first-to-invent rule are two different principles for determining which applicant is granted a right whenever two or more patent applications are filed for the same invention. Only the first-to-file rule applies in Korea.
Regardless of who invented the invention, the right of invention is given to the person who is the first to file the application at the patent office. If two or more applications for the same invention are filed on the same date, the applicants must consult with one another and try to come to an agreement on who may obtain a patent for the invention. If no agreement is reached or no consultation is possible, none of the applicants can obtain a patent for the invention.
The first-to-file rule is practical because it grants rights for the cost of disclosing the technology and it encourages swift disclosure of inventions.
This rule is in accordance with the purpose of the patent system because it aims to promote industrial advancement through the swift disclosure of inventions.