Amendment to Korea’s Intellectual Property Registration System: Korea IP Law Updates

South Korean organizations, companies and startups will, likely, in the near future experience a quicker and increasingly more efficient Patent and Intellectual Property Registration System in Korea and internationally based on developments within the IP5. Top IP officials in Korea are gearing up, in order to help South Korean organizations, companies and startups register their Intellectual Property more efficiently.  It seems like the effort is a serious attempt to expedite approvals and lesson application burdens for those doing business in

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Korea Establishes Legal Grounds for the Commercialization of Autonomous Vehicles – A New Act for 2020

Proposed by the Chair of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee on April 4, 2019, the Act on Promotion and Support of the Commercialization of Autonomous Vehicles (hereinafter as “Korean Act on Autonomous Vehicles”) aims to set forward legal grounds and a legal framework for projects of domestic and foreign companies, who focus on the development of autonomous or self-driving vehicles with the goal of the successful commercialization in Korea and abroad. The aforementioned Act shall become effective one year

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Terminate/Layoff an Employee in Korea: Terminating an Employee in Korea

The Korean Labor Standards Act mandates that employees under “contract” or “regular employees” may only be terminated for “justifiable reason attributable” to the employee or “urgent managerial necessity” after the completion of the employee’s probationary period. Both Korean employment law standards are, often, difficult for an employer to meet without the professional structuring of HR policies and procedures and a nuanced approach to termination of employees in Korea. We strongly recommend, prior to even considering firing or laying off Korean

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Amendment to the Korean Foreign Investment Promotion Act 2019 – Investment Incentives in Korea

The Korean Foreign Investment Promotion Act (hereinafter as “FIPA”) is intended to support foreign investment in Korea by providing investment incentives to investors in the Korea market. The Korean National Assembly amended the FIPA this year. Key-facts about the Korean FIPA The Korean FIPA shall “…promote foreign investment in Korea by providing necessary support and benefit and to contribute to the sound development of the nation’s economy.” (FIPA Art. 1). FIPA may benefit foreign investors, including, individual investors, companies established

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Korea Fully Legalizes the Usage of LPG as a Fuel for Vehicular Transportation

The Amendment to the Korean Safety Control and Business of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Act (“Liquefied Petroleum Gas Act” or “Act”) was proposed by the Korean Chair of the Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs and Startups Committee on March 13, 2019 and shall become effective upon promulgation. The aforementioned Amendment enables the use of liquefied petroleum gas (“LPG”) as a fuel for vehicular transportation in the Republic of Korea via elimination of the restrictions on the use of LPG in vehicles. The

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“Fine Dust” as Socially-Generated Natural Disaster – Amendment to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety 2019

As a further reaction to the fine dust-issue in Korea, the Chair of Korea’s Public Administration and Security Committee proposed an Amendment to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety (hereinafter a “Act on Management of Disasters”) on March 13, 2019. The regulation shall become effective upon promulgation. The major legal change is the “damages caused by fine dust” as a being defined as a “socially-generated natural disaster.” Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety

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Tax Breaks for Korean Landlords: Real Estate Taxation Basics

Proposed by the Chairman of the Strategy and Finance Committee of the Republic of Korea on September 20, 2018, the Amendment to the Korean Restriction of Special Taxation Act came into force on January 1, 2019. The amendment has decreased the taxation burden of some landlords. The Act was amended in favor of Korean landlords who renew long-term rentals with tenants by charging a lower increase of rent by a percentage lower than a percentage set by Presidential Decree. This

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Release of an Arrested Vessel in Korea: Maritime Liens in Korea

We wrote an article about the Arrest of Vessels in Korean waters in a post last week.  The article is a useful guide for those considering arresting a ship in Korean waters.  The post may be found at: Arrest/Attachment of Vessels in Korean Waters: Maritime Liens for Creditors in Korea. This post describes how you may obtain the release of a vessel arrested in Korea waters.  The Korean Courts have put in place an efficient post-arrest procedure that, often, quickly

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Korean Patent Law’s Trade Secret Protection: Amendment to Trade Secret Law in Korea

The amended Patent Act of Korea (“Korean Patent Act”) and the amended Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act (“Korean Trade Secret Protection Act”) of Korea shall enter into force on July 9, 2019. The most important key developments are great criminal penalties for trade secret misappropriations; damage awards up to three times of the actual damage regarding infringements of patent rights or trade secret rights; eased litigation requirements for the claimants; and revised basis for calculating royalty damages.

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Amendment to Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act in 2019

The amended Occupational Safety and Health Act of Korea (hereinafter as “OSHA”) entered into force on January 15, 2019. One major aspect of the revision is that it has raised the risk of liability of representatives of institutions and companies and companies for workplace industries in Korea. The amended Korean OSHA law is expected to increase the risk to company management, increase liability of companies and increase options for employees that are perceived to have been harmed because of the

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Succeeding in Business in Korea

Since 1977, I have observed the rise and fall of many foreign companies in South Korea. I have witnessed the trials and tribulations as a bank employee, a high-tech salesman, a country manager and as a business consultant of foreign and Korean companies doing business in Korea . Bluntly speaking, while some foreign ventures have had some unlucky breaks, those companies that have succeeded in the Korean market have done so for good reasons.  And those who have failed have done

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Licensee has Standing to Challenge the Validity of a Patent in Korea. Korean Licensing & Royalty Law Updates

Prior to a recent holding by the Supreme Court of Korea, the Korean Supreme Court had conflicting holdings on the definition of an “interested party” under Korean Patent Law. In order for a party to challenge the validity of a patent, in Korea, a party challenging the patent must be an “interested party.” Until this year, it was not clear whether a licensee of the patent in question is an “interested party” with standing to challenge the patent in Korea.

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Korean Act on Special Cases Concerning the Establishment and Operation of Internet Banks

In September 2018 the Korean National Assembly passed the Korean Act on Special Cases Concerning the Establishment and Operation of Internet Banks (hereinafter as “Act on Internet-Only Banks”), which is in force since January 2019. The major facial intent of the Act on Internet-Only Banks is to “…encourage innovative enterprises to enter the financial market while laying the legal framework for the convergence of information and communications technologies (ICT) with financial services, and the creation of new economic growth drivers.”

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Sean Hayes attended the Korea Business Forum

The Korean Business Forum is one of the leading private groups of senior executives in leading companies doing business in Korea. The group meets, at least, monthly to discuss major issues affecting businesses in Korea. I, highly, recommend applying for membership in the Korean Business Forum. This month’s meeting addressed issues facing the Korean economy, the new labor policy of the Moon Administration, and major reasons why Korea is still important for international businesses. Some interesting takeaways: Korea is the

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Corruption in Korea: What is the Crux of the Problem? by Tom Coyner

Whenever I read a news item regarding Korean corruption, I have mixed feelings. Usually the article is based on the latest finding by a well-meaning NGO that focuses on corrupting influence of big business on government without adequately addressing the root causes or even the breadth of corruption. Korean corruption doesn’t limit itself to envelopes and car trunks of cash being paid by business people to government officers. *The following article is a re-posting of an article by Tom Coyner. 

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Piercing the Corporate Veil in Korea: Suing Shareholders of a Corporation

It is possible, in some situations, for shareholders to be sued for the acts of a corporation.  The concept is called “piercing the corporate veil.” The Supreme Court of Korea has noted that the corporate veil may be pierced and a shareholder may be sued: “Where a company maintains the external appearance of a juristic person while it merely takes the form of a juristic person and, in substance, it is equivalent to other person’s private enterprise behind the corporate

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Using Korea as a Test Bed for Asian Expansion: Look to Facebook

I have advised, on many occasions, clients to look to Korea for their Asian expansion prior to entering more expensive and difficult Asian markets.  Hey Facebook seems to agree in an article entitled: Facebook uses Korea as Test Bed. This is a repost of article from nearly five years ago.  China is becoming even more difficult and much of SE Asia is not becoming anymore transparent – Korea is an excellent place to test the Asian waters. The Korea Herald

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“Probationary Periods” in Korean Employment Contracts for Newly-Hired Workers

Korean companies should consider negotiating stipulations to create “probationary periods” at the start of employment to train and assess newly-hired Korean workers. Often companies wish to evaluate workers over a set period of time after concluding a labor contract to assess the worker’s abilities and intelligence, and to allow the worker time to gain familiarity with the work.  This period of employment is called a “probationary period.” The practice is relatively unregulated by the government. The Labor Standards Act of

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Korean Merger Control and the Korean FTC

The Monopoly Regulation & Fair Trade Act of Korea (Fair Trade Act of Korea) is the main regulation governing mergers and acquisitions in Korea.  In the majority of cases, reporting and approval is not required for a target company with a yearly turnover of less than KRW 20 billion. The specific jurisdictional thresholds shall be addressed in a followup article.  This article is intended to, simply, provide a list of the main Merger Control issues .  A more substantive article

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Korea’s Improper Solicitation & Graft Act?: Scope of Application

The Scope of Application of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act of Korea (“Graft Act”) was a hotly contested issue that led to Korean court challenges.  The Constitutional Court of Korea has upheld the Graft Act of Korea.  More details, including a list of articles on the Graft Law of Korea, may be found at: Improper Solicitation & Graft Act of Korea. The Scope of Application is defined in Article 2 & Article 11 of the Bribery Act.  The Act

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