Prior to marketing products, services or a business in Korea do a thorough search for like trademarks/service marks in Korea, then, have your trademarks/service marks registered in Korea – if you don’t want the added cost of litigating a matter at a Korean court. If you have patents, don’t forget to, also, register your patents and other intellectual property.
The Korea Intellectual Property Organization has a website, in English, that has a decent search system. Regrettably, not all of the information on the site is in English. This search is not the end of the matter. You should, obviously, also hire a professional to assist.
Upon filing, also, make sure you develop at strategy to protect your Intellectual Property. Your strategy should, include, at a minimum:
- Comprehensive Intellectual Property Audit.
Audit all your intellectual property including your patents, trademarks, servicemarks, books, manuals, videos, software, know-how, and trade secrets. The purpose of this IP Audit is to determine if all of your IP is registered and properly safeguarded. This is discussed more at: Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Korea.
- Educate Korean Customs
A few professionals in Korea, including professionals at IPG, do presentations to Customs informing Korean Customs of how to spot counterfeit products.
- Engage Actively Customs and the Prosecution
If you are not on-the-ground in Korea, get a local company to assist.
- Draft a Comprehensive Intellectual Property Protection Plans.
If you don’t have an IP department or have a IP department that is not up to the task in your company the inexpensive way to do this is to outsource the work. Please consult with your in house attorney or a private attorney.
- Track Importers of Counterfeit Products into Korea
The Prosecution, generally, does a decent job. However, often it is advisable to employ a professional to obtain the necessary information and present the information to the Prosecution and Customs.
- Actively Engage your Sales Channels
So much information can be garnered from those that are competing against counterfeiters and pirates.
- Integrate the Office Outside Korea with the Korean entity.
All too often a Korean branch is totally out of the loop and hence unaware of developments at the home office.
- Trade Secrets Matter.
I wrote an article on protecting trade secrets in Korea that may be found at: Protecting your Trade Secrets in Korea: Top 5 Things to Know Before Subjecting your Business to the Korean Market.
- Search the Internet, Government Databases and Portals to Find Violators of Your IP. Get someone to do this, at least, on a monthly basis.
- Get Professional Assistance
Speaks for itself.
The Korea Intellectual Property Trademark/Service Mark search may be found at: Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: [email protected]
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw.
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