Expiration Versus Termination of a Distribution Agreement in Korea: Korean Distributor Basics

While Korean Law does not specifically detail the differences in treatment in law between the non-renewal (expiration) of a distribution agreement versus the termination, in reality, Korean courts are less likely to rule in favor of distributors in cases where a distribution agreement is not renewed.  Thus, typically, it is advisable to have a distribution agreement based on a specified term of years.  However, even with the expiration of the Korean Distribution Agreement, termination risks exist. In some cases, Korean courts have noted that termination and even non-renewal is a violation of Korean Law since the non-renewal or termination of the Korean distributor was not based on “good faith.”  In many cases, Korean courts have required a showing of “good cause” to terminate or even to not renew a relationship.  Contractual formalities and structural realities often assist in allowing a non-performing distributor from prevailing in court.  Thus, a nuanced and

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Future of Bitcoin in Korea according to FTC: Korean Cryptocurrency Updates

The head of the Korean Fair Trade Commission has noted to local vernaculars that he does not agree with Justice Minister Park Sang-ki’s comment that “cryptocurrency investment is gambling.”  He further noted that: “cryptocurrency recently emerged as an issue in Korea and other laws do not have the exact legal clauses that relate to closing exchanges.”  Thus, indicating, in part, that the Korean government doesn’t have the specific power to close the Korean cryptocurrency exchanges.  Of course, the FTC Chairman’s opinion does not have any legal binding effect, however, his opinions are widely respected by academics and legal practitioners. Many legal practitioners I have spoke to, in Korea, believe that the government shall not have the power, because of the number of traders in Alt Currencies to ban trading in Alt currencies.  This reality may lead to a settling of this issue via the imposing of capital gains tax on

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“Fair Use” Korean Copyright law

Dear Professor Hayes : I am in the process of completing a book on the modern history of the Republic of Korea. A good deal of my work cites news reports, published journals, and first hand reports mentioned in other books, Web sites and personal blogs. My book chronicles the modern developments from the eyes of foreigners who reside or resided in Korea. My publisher wants to confirm that Korea has a “fair use” doctrine, therefore, allowing me to cite the works of others.  Author in Rhode Island Dear Author: In general, the copyright holders, in Korea, may solely economically exploit a copyrighted work for the life of the author of the work plus 50 years. Korean Copyright Law provides that copyright infringers may be held liable in civil court and even punished in criminal court. In recent years, the Korean prosecution has been vigorous in prosecuting copyright infringers and

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Is Bitcoin Banned for Foreigners in Korea? Korean Bitcoin Law Updates

This Law Firm has wrote a few articles on Bitcoin Law in Korea.  This Alt Currency/Bitcoin Law articles may be found at: Court Challenges to Governments Ban on Cryptocurrency in Korea and Will the Korean Government Ban Bitcoin? Other article can be found via searching the Blog.  A Forbes article notes, with one significant caveat, that: “All foreigners, including residents, nonresidents and “kyopo” ethnic Koreans with foreign citizenship, will be banned from trading cryptocurrencies in Korea, the FSC’s foreign media department said by email. Minors are banned after Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon earlier claim the cryptocurrency craze could lead the youth toward crime.” However, the article, additionally notes that: “However, Kang noted a loophole. In the new system, foreigners and minors can’t possibly make investments as it operates on a bank’s real-name account, but they could potentially use corporate accounts to make additional investments. ‘There’s no limit to that for now. We haven’t

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Non-Compete Restrictive Covenant in Employment Contracts in Korea

Korean courts have invalidated numerous, non-compete agreements, reduced the amount of time of the non-compete period and/or have reduced liquidated damage amounts for violation of non-compete agreements.  Courts typically balance the freedom to work (an ability to work outside the specific field) with the significance of the interest in the employer to enforce the covenant not to compete.  The primary factors courts utilize in determining whether to enforce a non-compete agreement are: if compensation was paid in exchange for the covenant not to compete; if the interest being sought protection over includes valuable trade secrets and other valuable intellectual property; if the position of the employee was such that the employee would be able damage the future of the employer; if the employee was terminated for justifiable reasons; if the industry practice is to enforce covenants not to compete; and if the employee is harmed by the covenant not to

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Legality of an Employer Lockout in Korea: Korean Labor & Employment Law Basics

Korea, in the eyes of many domestic and foreign companies, has been lax in the enforcement of the rights of employers to run a business.  One noted cases that lead to a decision by the Supreme Court of Korea comes to mind.  Because of a labor strike at a major automobile parts manufacturer and the physical blocking of the use of replacement workers and employer machinery by the employees, the employer implemented a partial unpaid lockout of certain employees (employees were employed by a unit of the employer), thus disallowing certain workers to enter the workplace in order to prevent further disruption of the manufacturing process.  The employees physically blocked production and thus did not allow certain orders to be fulfilled by the employer, thus affecting the employer’s business. The case is a great case to demonstrate Korea’s Lockout Law. Following the lockout, the locked-out employees, on several occasions, expressed

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IPG’s Korean Employment & Labour Law Chapter in Global Legal Insights 2018

IPG is proud to announce the contribution of the Korean chapter to GLI’s 2018 Edition of Employment & Labour Law.  The publication contains chapters from 29 different countries.  The publication may be found at: Employment & Labor Law, Sixth Edition. Key Issues addressed are, among others,: -General Labour Market Conditions in Korea -Employment Policies under the Moon Administration -Litigation Trends in Korea -Definition of “Ordinary Wage” in Korea -Korean Supreme Court’s Regular Interval Bonus Case -Director as an Employee for Korean Employment Security Purposes -Korean Employee Lockouts -Layoffs and Dismissals Based on Fault of the Employees in Korea -Korean Restrictive Covenants Law -Trade Secrets Protection in Korea -Severance Payments in Korea -Childcare Leave in Korea -Maternity Leave in Korea -Paternity Leave in Korea -Annual Leave in Korea Please see the other articles below and via the Employment Law Tag. [ABTM id=1137] (c) Sean Hayes – SJ IPG. All Rights reserved.

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Part-time Worker Annual Paid Leave Obligations under the Korean Labor Standards Act

Employers, in Korea, are in most cases required to grant annual paid leave to full-time and even part-time workers working in Korea-based companies.  Exceptions to this Korean annual paid leave law exist for Korean workers that work, on average, less than 15 hours per week for these Korean-based companies. Article 18 of the Korean Labor Standards Act notes that: “(1) The terms and conditions of employment of part-time workers shall be determined on the basis of relative ration computed in comparison to those work hours of full-time workers engaged in the same kind of work at the pertinent workplace.” However, annual paid vacation leave and other articles/obligations under the Korean Labor Standards Act do not apply to “workers whose contractual work hours per week on an average of four weeks (in cases where their working periods are less then four weeks, then, based on such period of work) are less

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Korean Cryptocurrency Case Filed to the Korean Constitutional Court: Korean Bitcoin Updates

The author of this blog, formerly worked for the Constitutional Court of Korea and he is excited to see this matter being litigated in Korean courts.  The issue, as I have always noted, is simply if government are willing to protect the freedom of individuals to trade and speculate in asset classes of the choosing of the investor.  While, I am far from sold on Bitcoin (and other Alt Currencies) as a long-term asset class plays – of course any free democracy shall allow its citizens to invest in asset classes the government doesn’t favor.  The key to this issue, seemingly, is just if Alt Currencies shall be considered mere asset classes. As the reader likely knows, various branches of the Korean government have noted that the Korean government shall either ban Bitcoin exchanges in Korea, prohibit banks from linking accounts to exchanges or otherwise prohibit the use of Alt

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Korean National Tax Service Tax Law News Release to Foreign Corporate Taxpayers: Korean Tax Law Updates

The following Korean Tax Law News is a publicly released Korean tax notification that is intended for foreigner companies in Korea.  The notification was not translated or drafted by this law firm.  For any questions on this notification please Contact Us. Korean Tax Law News 【January 2018】 ☞ The following Korean tax information is translated from Korean for foreign-invested companies, and is not legally binding. ※ Year-end tax settlement by foreign workers in Korea □ With the increase in foreigners residing in Korea, the number of foreign workers in Korea has increased every year as well. ○ For the convenience of foreign workers‘ year-end tax settlement in Korea, here are a few tips on year-end tax settlement for foreign workers this year. □ If a foreigner has wage and salary income generated in Korea, he/she should perform year-end tax settlement just like domestic workers, regardless of his/her sojourn period and

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Korean Tax Law Amendment Press Release by Korean Government

The following is a Press Release by the Korean Government on recent Korean Tax Law enforcement decrees.  We shall update the reader when more is known.  The following press release was not proofread or translated by this firm.  The Press Release was published by the Ministry of Strategy & Finance in the English language and copied, in its entirety, below. Decree Focuses on Boosting Investment and Broadening Tax Base The government announced a revision to a total of 17 tax enforcement decrees, including ones to help create jobs, improve income and broaden the tax base.  Major revisions to the 2017 tax enforcement decrees are as follows. – Expand the angel investment tax incentives (30 to 100 percent income tax deduction):  Include crowdfunding investment in companies run for less than 7 years, or investment in companies run for less than 3 years if they are qualified by credit rating agencies –

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Doing Business in Korea: The Korea labor market under the Moon administration

The election of progressive President Jae-in Moon, after the impeachment and imprisonment of the conservative former President, led to, among other progressive proposals, pledges from the President Moon Administration of sweeping changes to Korea’s Labor & Employment Law.  The following appears in a publication supported by the Korean Government.  The complete publication may be found at: Discovering Business in Korea.  The following changes are the major changes proposed by the Moon Administration. The changes may have a significant affect on companies doing business in Korea and may lead to an increase in taxes as a percentage of GDP. 810,000 new jobs via expanding Korea’s public sector President Moon vowed to create over 340,000 new government social service jobs and over 140,000 new government jobs in public safety and security, while converting 300,000 non-regular workers to permanent workers.  A non-regular worker, in Korea, is a worker without employment security. Thus, the conversion of

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Korean Tax Risk of Foreign Corporation Deemed “Actual Business Management Locale” within Korea: Korea Tax Law Basics

Foreign corporations, doing business in Korea, may be deemed local corporations subject to taxation on worldwide income if the foreign-incorporated company is deemed a Korean “domestic corporation” for Korean tax purposes.  This liaison-office Korean Tax Risk can, thus, lead to taxes on worldwide income, a tax audit and even criminal sanctions against those operating in Korea.  We have dealt with matters were employees, even, received exit bans. Thus, in most cases the establishment of a local Korean corporation is essential in assisting in shielding your foreign corporation from tax and other liabilities unless substantial reasons exist to not establish a local Korean corporate entity. One of the most significant risks of foreign companies doing business in Korea without a local entity is being deemed a local corporation subject to tax on worldwide income.  A domestic corporation under the Corporate Tax Act of Korea is a company with its “actual business

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Trade Dress Law in Korea. The Copycat May Catch the Mouse

A blog I just, recently, ran into posted an interesting post on Hermes trouble with copycats in Korea. The blog may be found at: Fashion Law Blog. Hermes lost, recently, a High Court case in Korea.  Hermes argued, in part, that: ” [Defendant’s] bags – which bear a striking resemblance to its famed Birkin and Kelly styles – run afoul of the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act, which prohibits, ‘causing confusion with another person’s goods by using signs identical or similar to another person’s name, trade name, trademark, container or package of goods or any other sign widely known in the Republic of Korea as an indication of goods, or by selling, distributing, importing or exporting goods with such signs.’” Hermes, in short, specifically argued that: “. . . that in recreating the trade dress in its most famous bags – namely, the distinctive three lobed flap

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Korean Defense Policy under Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Administration

Because of the recent tensions on the Korean peninsula, caused by the actions of the Kim Regime in the North of the Korean Peninsular, the Korean government under the President Jae-in Moon Administration has vowed to, among other things, increase the defense budget and enhance the 3-Axis System.  Opportunities, thus, abound for proactive companies in the defense industry. Korea’s Major Defense Priorities Increase the Korean defense budget from 2.4% to around 3.0% of GDP; Maintain the strong relationship with the United States; Procure advance weapon systems domestically and from abroad; Enhance and further develop the 3-Axis System; Expedite the takeover of wartime control of the Korean military (and all troops in Korea) to the Korean military; and Expedite the procurement and build out of purchased and in development defense systems. 3-Axis System The understanding of the 3-Axis System and the major specific priorities of the Korean Administration demonstrates the opportunities

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Abuse of Market Dominance in Korea: Competition Law in Korea

The Seoul Central District Court ruled earlier this year that Namyang Dairy Products Co. (“Namyang”) was in violation of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act of Korea by abusing its market dominance and “unfairly taking advantage” of retailers. For more Antitrust/Competition Law articles please click on the labels noted Antitrust Law on the right. Namyang, a major Korean dairy company, was accused by retailers of, among other things, forcing retailers to purchase expired or soon to expire products and purchase unpopular products.  The Seoul Central District Court in 2014GaHab592238 ruled the company was in violation of Article 23 of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act of Korea and awarded damages to the plaintiffs. Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act of Korea Article 23(1), no. 4 prohibits a company or individual from: “Trading with a certain transacting partner by unfairly taking advantage of his/her position in trade.” The Court

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Korean Franchisors’ Obligations in Korea to File Annual Report to Korean FTC

Korea’s Franchise Law imposes an obligation to report to the Fair Trade Commission of Korea, yearly, specific information relating to your franchise business worldwide.  A franchisor’s disclosure document may be de-registered or a fine may be imposed if this Yearly Franchise Report is not accepted by the Korean Fair Trade Commission within 120 days of the closing of the year. The Yearly Franchise Report, in Korea, is intended to notify franchisees and prospective franchisees of changes in the operations of the franchisor.   Don’t forget – file the update yearly. Other articles on Franchise Law that may be of interest: Enforcement of Sales Promotions by Franchisors in Korea Distribution Agreements in Korea: Crawl before you Walk Dispute Resolution Clauses in Franchise, Joint Venture, Partnership Agreements in Korea Korean Franchising Law Basics: Korea’s Act on Fairness in Franchise Transactions Covenants Against Competition in Franchise Agreement [ABTM id=1137] (c) Sean Hayes – SJ

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A “Tasty” Exclusive Agent Agreement for Artists & Entertainers in Korea: Entertainment Law Basics in Korea

The Fair Trade Commission of Korea (FTC) created a sample standard-form Exclusive Agent Agreement for Entertainment Agreements, in Korea, that was, recently, challenged by the Chinese Band Twin Duo “Tasty.” The Chinese band filed a lawsuit against the Korean entertainment company – SM C&C – in order to invalidate a 7-year exclusive agent agreement – claiming that because of major differences with the Korean entertainment company, the relationship between the parties was frustrated.  SM utilized a standard-form agency agreement that was developed by the FTC. In 2015GaHab19327, the Seoul Central District Court ruled, among other things, that: The FTCs standard-form agency agreement is presumptively valid in the entertainment business in Korea. The Seoul Central District Court, further, noted that the intent of this exclusive agreement was not to bind the entertainers to long terms, thus, the FTC made the standard-form exclusive agency agreement term at seven years in order to

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Publicity Rights/Portrait Rights in Korea: Entertainment Law Basics in Korea

The Seoul Central District Court delivered, in mid 2016, a decision ruling that an individual’s publicity rights (portrait rights) were violated by a person sharing an image on a public social media site.  The violators were sharing the images for commercial purposes and shared the images without the publisher’s consent (Seoul Central District Court 2015GaDan5324874). FACTS Mr. A posted photos of himself on his Instagram Page.  Mr. B utilzed those photos on Naver’s Band without Mr. A’s consent. Band is a Korean social media site. C company, also, posted the photos on Facebook without Mr. A’s consent.  Thus, Mr. A’s photos were re-posted from Mr. A’s Instagram Page and posted on Naver’s Band by an individual and posted on Facebook by a company.  Seemingly, the purpose of the re-posting was to promote the pages and products of Mr. B and Company C.  The attorneys for Mr. B and Company C

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Korean Governmental Regulations Stifle Innovations and the Role of Korean Law Firms

The Korea Joonang Daily has a good piece concerning the effect of over-regulation on Korean innovation. The article brings to my mind the important role Korean Law Firms should play in preserving economic and individual liberties (basic rights). The reality is without a strong push in the National Assembly (which seems hopeless) the, only option is the courts.  As many readers may know, I formerly worked for the Constitutional Court of Korea.  The Constitutional Court can be a useful tool in fighting the numerous useless, unnecessary, peculiar and often simply non-nonsensical Korean regulations. The answer to this issue, thus, may be to encourage the few proactive, unconflicted and experience Korean Law Firms with experience with complex contentious litigation to take these type cases to the Court.  Korean Law should grant the right to courts to award attorney fees to prevailing lawyers for a sum that is commensurate with the actual cost of

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