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Patents are an important IP asset to drive technological innovations, so it’s no wonder that South Korea, with its leading status in innovation, has made remarkable progress in developing patents. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Organization (KIPO), compared to five years ago, patent applications related to “computer technology, media and telecoms” and “pharma, biotech and life sciences” have increased by 24 percent and 11 percent respectively. Perhaps in response to the importance of developing pharmaceutical patents, the KIPO officially discussed that claims directed to a method of treating or preventing a disease in a human being should be considered industrially applicable. Under the current patent practice in South Korea, such claims are not patentable and need to be changed into the format of composition claims. 

On the other hand, some provisions of the Korea Patent Law have been amended recently. One important amendment is the introduction of a new divisional application system. It allows applicants to file a divisional application for some claims or claimed features of the parent case which have not been rejected by the examiner, even after a trial board dismisses the appeal against a final rejection.  

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AIP Patent & Law Firm was founded by Soowan Lee when he retired from his judgeship at the Korean Supreme Court. The firm’s patent attorneys have in-depth experience in various technical fields, including mechanics, electronics, electricity, telecommunications, information technology, chemistry and biotechnology.  

Based in Seoul, AJU Kim Chang & Lee handles various IP matters related to the fields of chemical and bio, mechanical, electronics, and trademark and design. The firm also takes care of IP and business litigation as well as corporate and other matters. Patent attorney He-lin Lee is a key contact.  

Headed by Hoodong Lee, Bae, Kim & Lee’s IP practice provides services such as mediation, arbitration, litigation, invalidation and revocation of trial decisions relating to patents, utility models, trademarks, designs, copyright and trade secrets. Partners Junghi Park and Myungkyu Lee are key contacts.  

Barun IP & Law provides a one-stop IP shop for clients, and a strategic alliance with full-service sister firm Barun Law. Ho-Hyun Nahm is the firm’s lead partner; he has worked to protect some of the world’s best-known brands, including Nike, Esprit, Jimmy Choo, Elégance, Lady Gaga and the British Royal Chief Designer’s brand Hardy Armies. He helped Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki protect lyrical and allusive works. The firm also boasts solid relations with government executives at KIPO, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) and others.  

Won Son, Seung-Yun Yeom and Eui-Hoon Lee are managing partners at C&S Patent and Law Office. The firm has been in existence since 1969; today, it has about 50 patent attorneys and 100 professional staff members. The firm handles contentious and non-contentious work, including applications and registrations, patent search and analysis, and IP consulting.  

Central Intellectual Property & Law, formerly Central International Law, is led by president Hoon Chang. Chang leads an experienced team of attorneys-at-law, patent and trademark attorneys, US-licensed attorneys, former KIPO examiners and judges as well as foreign consultants who provide advice on prosecution, registration, enforcement, maintenance, litigation and technology transactions, among others.  

Cho & Partners is a favourite among luxury fashion and high-end retail brands; it also has top clients in the electronics industry. Tae-Yeon Cho is one of Asia’s leading IP lawyers, and Ik-Hyun Seo is experienced in both American and Korean IP litigation and prosecution work. Attorney-at-law Yoon-Kyung Anne Kim, is recommended for negotiating and drafting licensing, franchising, joint venture and distribution agreements as well as overseeing the development of internet and e-commerce initiatives. 

Dentons Lee possesses long experience in handling IP matters in the jurisdiction. The firm consists of former judges, prosecutors and senior foreign attorneys and they are supported by a large number of advisors who are former high-level government officials and industry leaders. In early 2023, the firm’s IP trial group notched a win before the Korea Supreme Court, which upheld an earlier decision of the Patent Court in favour of their client, overturning a prior decision of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, which found that the client’s product is within the scope of the registered design relating to a latch for fastening quick connectors. Earlier this year, Nicholas Park was named chair of the Dentons Global Board.  

Darae Law & IP Group’s top practitioners include managing partners Jeong-Youl Yoon and Seung-Moon Park, who lead a strong team to provide both prosecution and contentious services such as patent, design, technology, trademark and copyright applications and registrations; opposition; invalidation; cancellation; and damages.  

FirstLaw is noted for its prosecution work, especially in patents. The firm boasts experts in chemistry, including organic and inorganic chemistry, chemical engineering, textile engineering and cutting-edge technology including polymers, nanotechnology and semiconductors; electronics and information technology; and mechanics. The firm is led by president Changse Leon Kim, who has a PhD in chemical engineering and has represented companies including Procter & Gamble and SKC in patent infringement actions. 

Founded in 2001, Hanol IP & Law is highly regarded for its work in the fields of life sciences and chemistry. President Min Son brings an “entrepreneurial spirit” to work, one client says. She previously worked as a patent examiner at KIPO, and as a patent attorney at a leading law firm in Seoul. The firm is divided into several practice groups: life sciences and biologics, chemistry and pharmaceutical, engineering, trademarks and legal. 

Hanyang International Patent and Law Firm is a boutique firm that specializes mostly in IP law, including prosecution, complex litigation and appeals, technology transactions, licensing counseling and arbitration. Yeon-Soo Kim is chief managing partner; his primary practice consists of worldwide trademark clearance, prosecution, enforcement, litigation, and other matters concerning trademarks and licensing. The firm has patent attorneys who are experts in mechanical, electrical and computer technologies, and biotechnology and chemistry. 

Jipyong was founded in 2000 and is today a full-service South Korean law firm focusing on cross-border work in a variety of practice areas, including intellectual property and litigation. The firm boasts more overseas offices than any other South Korean law firm, including in Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Yangon and Moscow, plus offices in Seoul, Suncheon and Busan. The IP practice coordinates closely with the firm’s tax, M&A, fair trade and international arbitration practices. The firm is also an excellent source of information about legal issues in North Korea. 

KBK & Associates in Seoul has more than 140 specialists, each assigned to a professional team for each practice area. The firm works in both contentious and non-contentious IP.  

Based in Seoul and headed by Jay Yang, Kim & Chang’s IP practice is one of the largest in the jurisdiction, with about 150 partners and 210 associates. Recently the firm represented AstraZeneca for a patent litigation case, in which for the first time the Patent Court of South Korea confirmed that a pharmaceutical compound patent covers generic prodrugs. The firm was named Asia IP trademark firm of the year for South Korea in 2023. Duck Soon Chang, Monica Leeu, Chun Y. Yang and Jay J. Kim are key contacts.  

Koreana Patent Firm offers services for patents and utility models, designs, trademarks and service marks, internet-related businesses, petitions for cancellation of trail decision, license registrations and contracts, searches and consulting. Managing partners Sung-jin Hong and Seung-Yeon Han are key contacts.  

With offices in Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Lee & Ko is a full-service law firm headquartered in Seoul; it offers IP services in the fields of electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, genetic technology, mechanical, telecommunications, computer software and semiconductors. The IP team comprises former judges specializing in IP laws at the Supreme Court and Patent Court, as well as former KIPO examiners. Hyeon Gil Ryoo and Vera Lee are key contacts. It recently opened a new office in Pangyo, dubbed as the Silicon Valley of South Korea. Jiwoo Jeong, a former judge at the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board, has joined the IP practice group of the firm. The firm was named South Korea copyright firm of the year at the 2023 Asia IP Awards. 

Since 1961, Lee International IP & Law Group has been a leader in Korean IP with one of the largest and most active domestic practices, advising on patent prosecution, trademark registration, and a wide range of IP disputes, including patent and trademark litigation, anti-counterfeiting and infringement matters, domain name and copyright disputes as well as trade secret enforcement. Key contacts include managing partner Terry Taehong Kim as well as senior partners Jin-Hoe Kim and Yoon Suk Shin.  

Muhann Patent & Law Firm – the word muhann means “infinite” in Korean – handles IP work from application through portfolio management and commercialization. Managing partner Chad (ChangHoon) Lee is regarded for his work in broadband and wireless communications, microwave and radar technology, satellite systems, IP networks, software and semiconductors. Managing partner Eric (KeeWan) Koo has significant experience in trademark and design prosecution and litigation. Peter (SungJin) Chun and Alex (YoungGun) Song round out the firm’s roster of managing partners.   

Based in Seoul since 1952, Nam & Nam is one of the oldest IP law firms in the jurisdiction. The team comprises patent attorneys as well as Korean and American attorneys-at-law. The clientele includes MNCs, NPOs, universities, SMEs and individual inventors. Ben Yuu, who was previously vice president and patent counsel at Samsung Electronics’ IP Centre, is the managing partner; Hyung-joong Kwon and Sang-ki Park are also partners. 

Park, Kim & Partner handles litigation, including oppositions, trials and appeals, as well as a host of non-contentious services, including registrations; licensing; annuity servicing; searching, watch and monitoring services; and rendering opinions and advice on IP matters. Jerry J. Chung is a U.S.-registered patent agent noted for his work in biochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology. Sarah S. Chung is a U.S.-licensed attorney at law who has worked in South Korea since 2005; both received high marks from clients for their personal approach to work. 

PI IP LAW was established in 2013 by managing partner Daeho Lee and founding partner Gunhong Park. The firm offers services such as prosecution, trademark, design, landscape, recordal, litigation, portfolio management, anti-counterfeiting and licensing. Specialized in handling technical cases in AI and software, the firm consists of attorneys and engineers who have an academic background and extensive industry experience in fields such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science and biology. Partner Jaeyoon Kim has strong IP expertise in IP portfolio construction, at his former firm, he built IP portfolios for domestic clients including SK Telecom, LG Innotek, Seoul National University, Hongik University and others. 

Ropes & Gray was the first international law firm in South Korea to have its foreign legal consultant office application approved by the Korean Bar Association. David Chun, one of the founding partners of the firm’s Seoul office, is highly regarded for his work litigating patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation and copyright infringement matters in district and appellate courts and in connection with government enforcement actions. Chun divides his time between Seoul and Silicon Valley. The firm represents global and regional private equity sponsors, Korean MNCs and their U.S. subsidiaries and major South Korean tech firms. 

SEUM Law Firm is a tech boutique law firm in Seoul, where it handles work in the startup, tech and blockchain sectors, as well as general corporate legal matters. The firm works with local and international clients, ranging from large corporations such as Hanwha, Naver, WeMakePrice, and Kakao Mobility, to startup companies such as Zipdoc, Fly & Company, MangoPlate and Stradivision. The firm represents the largest Korean investors in the crypto space, including Hashed. The firm’s practice areas have recently been expanded to include biotechnology and pharmaceutics. Partner Seungmin Lee focuses on civil and criminal litigation and on advisory services related to blockchain, cryptocurrency, finance, securities, corporate and other matters. He is a former employee of Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service, where he worked at the Enforcement Review Office, the insurance team, the micro-credit team and the IT and Financial Information Protection Department on various financial company-related matters. 

Headquartered in Seoul with offices in Pangyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and a desk in Jakarta, Shin & Kim offers a broad range of experience in IP transactional and advisory work, both in a domestic and cross-border context. It advises companies of all sizes across a broad variety of industries. Many of the lawyers have technical backgrounds, which allow them to handle patent, trademark, design and copyright prosecution as well as litigation. Patent attorney Yong Mi Lee and Jeong Sik Kim are key contacts.  

Sojong Partners handles research, preemption searches, and applications for patents, trademarks, and other IPRs. Its entertainment, telecommunications, healthcare, and other teams regularly counsel clients completing copyright, knowhow and other licensing deals. In litigation, top practitioners such as James Jeon have brought and defended validation, construction, license interpretation and damage valuation proceedings within KIPO, the Patent Court, and other courts of law.  

SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm has more than 60 professionals, including patent and trademark attorneys and U.S. attorneys at law. The firm scores points for being extremely dedicated to its clients, which include heavyweights such as SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics on the trademark side. Since 1986, the firm has filed more than 27,000 domestic trademark applications and more than 25,000 foreign trademark applications. The firm is strong on the patent side as well, boasting a high registration ratio throughout the years. Kyung-Min (Matthew) Suh is the firm’s managing partner. Sook-Hyun (Jennifer) Jeon is a partner and trademark team leader. 

Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm provides a comprehensive range of IP services, including work on patents and trademarks as well as consultation services for the management and enforcement of IP rights. The firm offers an efficient and effective combination of patent attorneys, former KIPO examiners, foreign attorneys and technical advisors with advanced degrees. Dong-Yol Yoon is the firm’s chief executive partner. He is well-respected in the chemical field, in particular, and has been extensively published on the doctrine of equivalents and other legal aspects of IP. 

Yoon & Yang’s IP practice comprises an IP practice group and a separate patent prosecution group. Both of the patent and IP attorneys are experienced in many technical disciplines, which allow them to offer services from securing, protecting and defending IP to advising on IP transactions in a wide range of technologies. Partner Wonil Kim is a key contact; his main areas of practice are IP, antitrust, broadcasting, information and telecommunications, and bioindustry. 

Specializing in the fields of electronic, mechanical and biochemicals, You Me Patent & Law Firm delivers both prosecution and contentious services of patent, trademark and licensing in Seoul. Partner Jiwon Kwon is a key contact; she is a member of the patent department, where her practice focuses on patent prosecution and appeals related to medical devices, semiconductors, business models, computers and telecommunications, in particular, CDMA communcations. 

Led by representative patent attorney YoungPil Lee, Y.P. Lee, Mock & Partners offers services in technology fields including electronic engineering, IT, nanotechnology, computer hardware and software, semiconductors, mechanical engineering, biotechnology and healthcare. 

Yulchon was founded in 1997 with offices in Seoul, Moscow, Shanghai, Yangon, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Jakarta. The IP practice comprises more than 50 individuals solely dedicated to IP matters, including former Patent Court judges and Supreme Court research judges. They are experienced in all aspects of IP including patent/utility model, trademark, design, copyright, trade secret, unfair competition, entertainment, privacy, as well as international IP dispute management (US discovery), IP compliance, and digital forensics. The firm has a strategic alliance with Y.P. Lee, Mock & Partners, to utilize additional resources to effectively handle any IP matters in virtually all technical fields. Senior patent attorney Kyung Ae Yoon is a key contact. 

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