South Korea's IP Experts
16 September 2021
Technology rules South Korea’s cities, and has led to particularly prosperous time for the country since the armistice ending the Korean War was signed nearly 70 years ago. But South Korea is also facing an aging populace, and observers wonder if the country will be able to maintain its perch atop Asia’s tech giants.
A June 2021 report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes that while South Korea today has fewer people ages 65 or older per 100 people of working than the current average of the OECD, those numbers will soon reverse. The ratio is used to indicate the economic burden a country’s workforce faces in supporting an aging population. While the country now scores a healthy 21.5 (compared to the OECD average of 28), the Carnegie report says that the figure “is expected to skyrocket to 88.7 by 2060, well above the projected OECD average of 55.6.”
More importantly than the number itself, the effect, Carnegie says, is that “the trend is poised to be a major drag on economic output as South Korea’s labour force is slowly depleted.”
But technology might just be the saviour South Korea needs, particularly 5G and artificial intelligence.
“As these technologies mature and proliferate, they will open doors for new industries and allow for tremendous productivity gains, creating massive new opportunities for growth that will shape the future of the world,” the Carnegie report said, mentioning an influential 2018 white paper released by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company and the World Economic Forum which estimated that such technologies could add up to US$3.7 trillion to the global economy by 2025. “The consulting firm PwC, meanwhile, claimed that 5G could add upward of US$1.3 trillion to the global economy, while AI could tack on US$15.7 trillion in growth by 2030,” the report said.
All of which suggests that South Korean industry will continue to invest heavily in tech spending, which in turn will keep the countries IP lawyers busy into the foreseeable future.
With this continuing interest in intellectual property protection in South Korea, we turned to IP professionals in the region in order to understand better what clients need today. Asia IP asked a large number of professionals – mostly in-house counsel and corporate legal managers – what they were looking for from their legal service providers. From their answers, we have compiled our list of 50 South Korea IP Experts, those lawyers who understand just what their clients need and are able to provide them with the best practical advice.
Today’s clients are looking for more than just a degree from a top-notch university and a couple of decades of practice. In order to be an outstanding provider of intellectual property advice, a lawyer must also be capable of understanding how intellectual property impacts the rest of his client’s business, and be able to provide practical, real-world, business-savvy advice. She must be able to provide sound advice on the current law, but also needs to be able to understand coming trends which are likely to impact her client’s business.
Unlike days past when she might have played just a bit role, today’s IP Expert is every bit a full-fledged team member.
The South Korean legal market has long been dominated by two firms, and it’s no surprise that lawyers Kim & Chang and Lee & Ko together make up nearly 40 percent of our Top 50 lawyers. Lee & Ko landed nine lawyers on the list, including Choong Jin Oh, Hwang Sung Park, Il Hee Bahn, Jae Hoon Kim, John Kim, Sun Chang, Un Ho Kim, Vera Eun Woo Lee and Young Mo Kwon, while Kim & Chang put eight on the list, including Alex Hyon Cho, Ann Nam-Yeon Kwon, Chun Y. Yang, Duck Soon Chang, Jay Young-June Yang, Man Gi Paik, Sung-Nam Kim and Young Kim.
But things are changing in South Korea, and smaller firms are grabbing an increasingly larger piece of the pie. Lee International IP & Law placed three lawyers on the list (Terry Taehong Kim, Yoon Suk Shin and Jin-Hoe Kim), as did Yulchon (Hyeong Joo Lim, Samuel SungMok Lee and Jeong Yeol Choe). Multiple firms landed two lawyer each on the list: Bae, Kim & Lee; Cho & Partners; Shin & Kim; Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm; You Me Patent & Law Firm; and Y.P. Lee, Mock & Partners.
Most of the lawyers named to our list have multiple practice specialties. Many of them are litigators, while others concentrate on prosecution work or provide strategic advice.
All of them have something in common: they are experts in their fields and, in one way or another, they provide extra value for their clients. They are Asia IP’s South Korea IP Experts. – GREGORY GLASS