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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Damages for Material Omissions in Franchise Disclosure Documents in South Korea

In April of 2015, the Supreme Court of Korea ruled that under Article 4; Article (9)(1); and Article 41(1) of the prior version of the Fair Transactions in Franchise Business Act (“Franchise Act”) damages may be obtained, from a franchisor, for all material omissions (Supreme Court 2014 DA 84824,84831, April 9, 2015) within Korean Franchise Disclosure Documents. Monetary damages may be obtained under Article 37(2) of the Franchise Act of Korea and Article 56(1) of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act of Korea for “material omissions” within Franchise Disclosure Documents and other document presented to prospective franchisees. The damages may include the cost of build-out, rental, franchise fees and even, in some cases, lost opportunity costs.  Additional, in some cases fines may be imposed, franchises can be de-registered and criminal charges may be brought against employees and management. The Fair Trade Commission may, additionally, impose a fine, even if

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Is a Bankruptcy in the U.S. “Effective” on Assets in Korea?: Korean Bankruptcy Law Basics

The following article on the interplay between Korean Bankruptcy Law and foreign bankruptcy laws was motivated by a question from a reader from the Korea Times.  The following is from a column I used to write for the Korea Times.  Please note the present Bankruptcy Law in Korea was amended and the present topic, while interesting, shall not apply to present bankruptcy proceedings.  However, take a read – very interesting matter.  I shall be posting some of my old articles from a prior weekly column over the next couple of weeks, since these articles no longer appear online. Legal Ease Column by Sean Hayes from Sept. of 2003 (Korea Times) Dear Sean, I just received notice that a former customer filed bankruptcy in New York. The bankruptcy court attached his assets in the United States, but the assets didn’t cover the entire debt owed to me. He also has assets

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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 shall follow. The following types of transactions are required to be reported and approved, in most cases, by the Fair Trade Commission of Korea (“KFTC”). Purchase of 15% of the shares of a listed domestic company; Purchase of 20% of the shares of a non-listed company; Establishment of a joint venture or increasing shareholdings to meet the thresholds in 1 or 2 above; Merger with a company; or Purchase

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Korean Civil Litigation Pre-Judgment & Post-Judgment Interest Awarded by Korean Courts

So you are suing a defendant in a Korean Court or you won a judgment in a Korea court? How much interest shall you earn on this judgment?  Korea awards different interest rates based in if the judgment is rendered or the judgment is not rendered. Additionally, it is, usually, advisable to include Penalty Damages Clauses to most type of Korean Contractual Agreements. Pre-Judgment Interest in Korea Pre-Judgment interest accrues from the date the payment is due.   Unless otherwise agree upon by the parties, the applicable statutory interest rate is 6% per annum for commercial claims and 5% per annum for most non-commercial civil claims.  Upon judgment, the judgment must be executed.  Get yourself a good English-speaking Korean commercial lawyer with experience executing commercial judgments. Post-Judgment Interest in Korea After a judgment is rendered by a Korean court, the applicable statutory interest rate is 15% per annum and commences

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Liquidated (Penalty) Damages Necessary in Most Korean NDA and Non-Compete Agreements

For any company engaged in negotiations, agreements, pre-M & A due diligence, OEM outsourcing or other activities with a Korean business or individuals that may lead to you disclosing your companies intellectual property, know-how or other proprietary information, always include in your no-competition, non-use, non-circumvention and non-compete agreements a liquidated damages (Penalty Damages) clause.  Without a Penalty Damages Clause – good luck in proving damages when a breach occurs. If the other party refuses to sign the clause, this is good sign that the party will breach. The clause is of course, only triggered when a breach occurs. I, recently, had a client that was very worried about losing “goodwill.” Easy solution, blame the “lawyer.” For companies that are not engaged in active, continuous and substantial business in Korea, the chance of finding evidence of damage, after a breach, is remote – best. The reason stems from proof of market potential in

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Top 10 Law Firms in Seoul, Korea for English-Speaking Foreigners According to 10 Magazine

We are proud to note that 10 Magazine listed us in an article titled 10 Lawyers in Seoul for English-Speaking Expats .  We are listed under the title Large/International Law Firms.  Thanks for the mention 10 Magazine.  We love your work.  We have, also, been rated by other rating services. The article notes: The lawyers of IPG focus on business law, civil litigation, franchise law, and criminal defense. With affiliated offices around the world, they’re a good choice for cross-border issues. One of the partners there, Sean Hayes, runs one of the best English blogs on the Korean legal landscape, The Korean Law Blog. If the constantly-changing legal environment of this country interests you, it will make an excellent resource. The complete list of the 10 Law Firms (the article deleted/omitted one law firm) for English-Speaking Foreigners in Korea is: Large/International Law Firms in Korea IPG Legal Yulchon Lee & Ko Kim

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Preparation for Korean Police & Prosecutor Interrogations & Witness/Defendant Questioning at Korean Courts

All good Korean attorneys prepare all clients for witness questioning & suspect interrogations in Korea.  Clients may be subpoenaed to appear in a Korean police office, Korean prosecutors office or to appear as a witness or a criminal defendant in a Korean Court and should be thoroughly prepared by their attorneys. We at IPG, hear of too many issues of lawyers, only, telling clients to “tell the truth and don’t worry.”  This is, obviously, not adequate witness or suspect preparation.  We see this from Korean law firms large and small.  Thus, the following list was prepared as a basic guide to necessaries prior to coming before a Korean Court, prosecutor or police investigator.  Please retain an attorney that has experience preparing clients for witness questionings and suspect interrogations – it is sad to note that few Korean attorneys have experience preparing even criminal defendants for court.   The reality is, however, that all

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Korean Trademark Act Revised: Korean Trademark Act of 2017

The Korean Trademark Act is, often, criticized by scholars and Korean legal practitioners for not being an effective means of enforcing copyrights and for being overly cumbersome.  The new changes are a step in the right direction.  Korea promulgated on September 1, 2017 the revised Korean Trademark Act. The following are the major changes. Any party may file an action to cancel a a trademark for non-use under revised Korean Trademark Law This change shall, likely, increase the number of litigants.  Prior to this change, courts would require litigants to establish that the litigant is an “interested” litigant.  The change may cause an increase in litigation. Effect of Cancellation on the filing date of the non-use action no longer the cancellation decision under revised Korean Trademark Law. Prior to this change, the effect of cancellation was the date of cancellation decision, thus, limiting potential monetary damages for infringement during the

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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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Starting a Company in Korea: Establishing a Foreign Capital-Invested Korean Company, Branch or Liaison Office

Korea, for many business, is an excellent market to enter.  We assist numerous franchisers, tech companies, chemical companies, oil & gas companies, automotive suppliers, defense companies and basic manufacturing companies on compliance and contentious issues related to their business in Korea.  We, also, assist entrepreneurial individuals in establishing and doing business in Korea. To establish a company in Korea, there are, in short, three legal manners for a foreign company or individual to do business in the Korean Market.  A business may enter as a Foreign Capital-Invested Company (Foreign Direct Investment Company)a Branch or Liaison Office.  In most situations, the most suitable manner to enter the Korean market is via the FDI Company route in order to avail of certain favorable tax treatments, not expose the foreign entity to liability, easier remittance of profits and easier processing of visas. However, many exceptions to this general rule do exist.  The basics

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Korea Immigration Deportation, Departure/Exit Orders: Immigration Law Basics

The Korea Immigration Service, a branch of the Ministry of Justice, has in the past few years increased enforcement actions against foreigners committing crimes and even cases of foreigners having charges dismissed by the Korea Prosecution Service.  Korean Exit Orders, Deportation Orders or other actions by Korea Immigration Service are challengeable at the Administrative Court for abuse of discretion. In most cases, it is near impossible to succeed in these challenges without an experienced and proactive attorney.  Because of Korean legal realities, it is advisable to retain, for the administrative court case, a proactive retired Korean court judge that, actually, actively works on cases.  Much said in an article concerning criminal lawyers applies to the hiring of an Immigration Lawyer, thus, it is advisable to read: English-speaking Korean Defense Lawyers The majority of tools needed for criminal defense work are need in challenges of Immigration Orders. Abuse of Discretion by Korean Immigration

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Hiring English-Speaking Korean Labor Lawyers in Korea

In most cases involving employment issues concerning foreign language teachers and hagwons (not company executives), Korean labor lawyers may not be a cost-effective means of handling your dispute. Often a Nomusa (노무사) is an adequate means to resolve the dispute with your employer. A Nomusa is, however, often not adequate for high-net worth individuals, company executives and for complex cases.  These type matters, often, should be filed to a court or shall be, likely, appealed from a Korean Labor Board to a court.  A Nomusa may not handle cases in Korean Courts.  Additionally, often the skills and experience of Korean lawyers are essential in the more complex, unique and many cases concerning foreigners. Simple, a Nomusa is a licensed labor professional (not a “Labor Lawyer”). These individuals, often, market themselves as Korean Labor Attorneys, however, this title is not an accurate title for these individuals.  A Nomusa is not an

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Sean Hayes Invited to Chair Panel for Horasis Foundation

Sean Hayes shall chair a panel for the Horasis Foundantion’s Conference in Seoul, Korea.  The Horasis Foundation shall hold the conference on September 22 to the 24th. The Conference is entitled: Entrepreneurship: Balancing Disruption and Consent.  Participants at the conference shall include the Chairman of Hansol, the UN Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction, Chairmen of two leading Indian pharmaceuticals, the Chief Investment Officer for IFC, a Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, a former Prime Minister of Japan, a Former Prime Minister of Korea, the Vice Chairman & CEO of the Federation of Korean Industries, and other dignitaries from industry, government and leading NGOs. More information on this conference can be found at the website of Horasis.  Welcome To Horasis Horasis is a global visions community dedicated to inspiring our future. Together with our members we explore, define, and implement trajectories of sustainable growth. Horasis provides strategic foresight to public

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Korean Commercial Liens versus Korean Civil Liens

Korea, in short, has two major types of liens – Commercial Liens and a Civil Liens.  For example, in a dispute between a contractor and a landowner or developer, a contractor make execute a Commercial Lien or Civil Lien.  A Commercial Lien is governed by the Korean Commercial Code while a Civil Lien is governed by the Korean Civil Code.  I shall for ease, utilize the contractor and landowner (developer) for example purposes only.  For explanation of Korea’s law on attachment please see: Preliminary Attachments in Korea Korean Civil Liens Korean Civil Liens are governed by the Korean Civil Code.  The code mandates that the contractor, to execute the lien, must be in possession of the subject property and the monetary claim must have a nexus to the subject property.  It is interesting to note that the subject property does not need to be owned by the debtor. Korean Commercial

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Korean Real Estate Acquisition Taxes for Purchase of Real Estate in Korea

The following are the Korean real estate acquisition taxes for the purchase of real estate in Korea. These acquisition taxes are applicable to the purchase of an apartment, land or a commercial property. Taxes in Korea change, often, when new administrations come into office.  Thus, these taxes may change, thus, please consult with your real estate agent and/or accountant. Foreigner may purchase property in Korea, certain restrictions do apply to the purchase of property by foreigners. Basic Taxes Related to the Acquisition of Property in Korea.  Acquisition Tax (with surtax):     4.6% of Purchase Price Recording Tax:                        Zero. Presently, incorporated into Acquisition Tax under recent                                                        amendments to Real Estate Tax Law. Stamp Duty:  

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Can a Foreign Company be Deemed a Domestic Company for Tax Purposes and Taxed on Worldwide Income?

If Korea deems a foreign incorporated company a Domestic Corporation, the company shall be taxed on its worldwide income.  The relevant law, this determination is made under, is the Corporate Tax Act of Korea (“CTA”).  In the typical case, the National Tax Service of Korea designates the foreign-incorporated company a Domestic Corporation and requests details on overseas earnings in order to impose taxes on overseas earnings.  Of course this leads, invariable, to your Korean tax lawyer challenging the determination to the Korean courts. Domestic Company Tax Residency Test in Korea The Korean Corporate Tax Act defines a Domestic Corporation as a corporation with: Headquarters within Korea; or  Actual Business Management Place in Korea.  Disputes, normally, concern the definition of Actual Business Management Place after an imposition of a tax on worldwide income (often based on funds being forwarded to the parent company by the Korean company – E.g. license fees) and

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Provisional Attachments of Assets in Pending Litigation in Korea Courts

A party attempting to collect on a debt or potential liability based on breach of contract or torts in Korea may obtain a Provisional Attachment of an Asset. Another useful tool to expedite proceeding in a Korean civil matter is to Obtain a Payment Order from a Korean Court.  A provisional attachment is considered provisional, since the attachment is executed prior to the final judgement. The, facial, purpose of a provisional attachment is to secure assets necessary for enforcement in cases where a defendant may conceal or dispose of assets. However, a provisional attachment, often, encourages settlement. We advise most creditors attempting to enforce a debt or potential debt against a debtor is to obtain a provisional attachment if the debtor is a company or individual without significant tangible assets.  Companies with significant assets are likely to pay debts after a judgement and, normally, are not significantly harmed by the attachment.   Courts

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Does Korea have Common Law Marriage?: Korean Common Law Marriage (De Facto Marriage) Basics

While the concept of a Korean Common Law Marriage (since Korea has no concept of a Common Law) does not exist, Korea has a similar law than the laws, in the States, often referred to as Common Law marriage.  FYI – few U.S. States recognize common law marriage. In Korea, the concept of Common Law Marriage is referred to as De Facto Marriage.  In Korea, all “legal marriages” are marriages that are registered at the local town office or recognized via marriage abroad (comity).  The De Facto Marriage is a limited exception to this “legal marriage” concept.  The following is a basic explanation of the major relevant aspects of Korea’s De Facto Marriage Law. Korean Common Law Marriage (De Facto Marriage in Korea) Situations A De Facto Marriage is recognized by a Korean Court, typically, in three different basic situations: The couple has publicized, announced or otherwise outwardly showed their

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