South Korea: Domestic

South Korea’s new pro-IP administration continues to transform the country into a global hub for resolving patent disputes. The Patent Court of Korea conducted its first-ever patent litigation in English in July 2017. Following that, the Korean Assembly passed a bill in November to establish an international chamber within the Korean district courts and enable the Patent Court to continue holding IP trials in English. Judges are also becoming more receptive to the use of expert testimonies in patent litigations, especially when provided by foreign experts. For our Korean coverage this year, we have added a Korea: Foreign section to reflect the key players representing Korean entities before US courts and the US International Trade Commission.

Firms: litigation and transactions

Firms: prosecution

AIP Patent and Law Offices

“AIP makes light work of the most complex patent instructions. Although a contentious mastery is ingrained in the firm’s DNA, it also boasts a noteworthy patent prosecution practice.” Having garnered substantial experience before the Korean IP Office (KIPO), the national courts and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, AIP’s team blends valuable field experience with far-reaching technical expertise. Founder Soowan Lee embodies the set’s fighting spirit and delivers stellar performances in the courtroom. Over the last 30 years, he has built up considerable expertise both in private practice and over a lengthy spell adjudicating IP disputes at the Korean Patent Court and the Supreme Court.

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Ascending to the top tier on the back of a glittering client roster and effusive peer feedback, full-service outfit Bae, Kim & Lee provides “superb” prosecution services: “The practice has grown rapidly in recent years, increasing its following of Korean chaebols [family-owned conglomerates].” A major national electronics magnate has entrusted the ensemble with greater portfolio management responsibilities, while LG Chem has also relied on its much-vaunted abilities to force through applications at the European Patent Office. Responding to this growing caseload, the firm has strengthened its line-up; it recently welcomed a new partner, several new patent attorneys and a foreign attorney. “Intelligent IP helmswoman” Catherine Eunkyeong Lee is a source of “timely, insightful, and effective” advice and has a natural affinity for her clients’ requirements: “Taking a highly strategic approach before the KIPO, she presents her arguments so as to maximise the likelihood of a successful grant.” Attorney at law Taeck Soo Kwon is a crucial ally in high-profile litigation and recently won an invalidation of a Novartis patent on appeal for local operation Dongkook. He is one of three former judges in the partnership.

Darae Law & IP Firm

“A top-notch choice for litigation and one-stop shop for patent prosecution”, Darae is a trusted partner for domestic and foreign rights holders alike. With a laser focus on patent work complemented by a strong showing across corporate, finance and tax law, the set provides rights holders with a more sophisticated offering than many of its competitors. Managing partner Seung-Moon Park has abundant judicial experience and leverages this to achieve victory in complex contentious matters. He is ably continuing the legacy of Yong-Sig Cho, who sadly passed away in 2017.

FirstLaw PC 

First Law’s chemical, electronics and mechanical practice groups deliver tailored strategies and solutions for the IP purist’s predominantly foreign client base. A marked increase in the number of mechanical briefs and an influx of Chinese rights holders is driving strong growth as well as earning kudos for founding partner Seong Ku Jang, to whom this success is credited. A shrewd patent prosecutor, Jang incorporates valuable lessons from his 10 years as a KIPO patent examiner into his meticulous drafts. Managing partner and chemical group leader Eun Hwa Choi has brought numerous patents to grant for the world’s leading pharmaceutical and medical device names and contributes her robust technical nous in contentious settings too. Taking point in these – and making her first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000Young Sun Jung helms the litigation practice. Having amassed significant technical experience, she blends this with astute legal knowledge to deliver sage strategic advice in invalidation and infringement proceedings. The practice she runs has been boosted by the recent hire of a trilingual US trial lawyer with a background in electrical engineering. The new addition will bolster the set’s already sought-after capacity to act before the US International Trade Commission.

Kim & Chang 

Embedded within Korea’s biggest law firm, Kim & Chang’s IP practice boasts “a virtually unsurpassed ability in patent filing and litigation and a renowned consumer focus”. Overlapping regulatory and competition teams support the “timely, efficient and pin-precise” contingent of proactive patent professionals, which are entrusted with the multinational clientele’s most important instructions. Patrons in need of an attorney at law are spoilt for choice; with over a decade in-house at telecoms and electronics concerns, licensing and contentious sage Kenneth Cho is an authority in these fields. Another former in-house counsel, Chun Yang has ample experience at the negotiating table and routinely secures the best deal for his clients. Both he and Jay Kim are qualified US patent attorneys. A chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech expert, Jay Kim channels his technical nous into impressive performances in the courtroom. As president of the Seoul Bar Association IP Training Institute, Duck Soon Chang champions the further development of Korea’s IP scene. He occupies a spot in the litigation gold tier alongside Jay (Young-June) Yang, who provides inspiring leadership to the firm’s IP group. Leading the prosecution practice is Man-Gi Paik; the ex-KIPO examiner and former Industrial Technology Policy Division director general is credited with transforming the department into a patent filing hub for a number of major multinationals. From his team, chemical maven Young Kim makes her debut in the guide. She spearheaded a string of successful courtroom skirmishes against 13 separate generic drug manufacturers in a dispute relating to Pfizer’s Lyrica patent. Young Kim’s comrade-in-arms is In Hwan Kim, an outstanding patent attorney who earns his place at the table through the incredible support he offers clients in contentious and non-contentious settings: “A seamless communicator, he identifies potential problems before they arise and offers robust advice on securing and enforcing IP rights.”

Koreana Patent Firm (Patent Attorneys & Counselors At Law)

“A formidable player in the patent prosecution market, which enjoys the loyalty of a substantial domestic following and which is increasingly in-demand among foreign companies”, Koreana’s watchword is quality. With over 60 patent fee earners on board, the firm amasses significant technical faculties while capably extending its reach into licensing and other transactional instructions. An ongoing formal association between the team and full-service operation Shin & Kim serves to strengthen its appeal to prospective customers. For these entities, senior managing partner Hae-Sun Park is a good name to remember.

Lee & Ko 

Loaded with top-notch talent and regularly litigating on behalf of a glittering client roster, Lee & Ko has a distinct edge in big-ticket disputes. Chemical engineering sage Young Mo Kwon and Un Ho Kim form the basis of a team catering to Samsung Heavy Industries – one of two units in the firm dedicated to a single major client. With a chemical engineering background, Kwon is an eloquent advocate and a guru in technology licensing. Kim has 15 years’ experience presiding over the Seoul High Court IP Division and knows the ins and outs of successful IP enforcement. John Kim is a tenacious litigator whose abilities are crucial to the set’s continued contentious success. The former Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner and Samsung Electronics in-house counsel boasts expertise in both Korean and US litigation and strong ties with US associates. Outside the courtroom, the unit operates a burgeoning prosecution practice that rivals those of many more well-established offerings. Bolstered by the arrival of five patent attorneys, this acts as one of Alibaba Group’s preferred partners. Former patent examiner Seong-Ki Kim co-chairs the IP department. He channels decades of national and international experience into his robust practice. Ably overseeing everything is managing partner Jae Hoon Kim; he has amassed significant expertise in IP and commercial law and offers holistic advice to illustrious devotees.

Lee International IP & Law Group 

Drawing on its technically accomplished team of 70 attorneys, Lee International is a multilingual dispensary of sage legal advice for reams of US and international clients. A favourite among electronics concerns, it also counts among its payroll specialists in chemistry, biotech and mechanics. A spritely contentious arm is both sword and shield in invalidation proceedings and infringement suits. Focused and incredibly able, patent department head Terry Taehong Kim counsels his following through all aspects of prosecution. His 24 years of advising innovators from myriad industries has enshrined in him an appreciation of how to protect any invention.

Nam & Nam World Patent & Law Firm

Storming its way onto the prosecution table this year, Nam & Nam has become a “prominent player” on Korea’s patent scene in recent years. “A prolific filer, it also manages the portfolios of notable devotees including Qualcomm.” The 55-year old outfit exhibits a high degree of finesse across electrical, mechanical and life sciences instructions. Although prosecution is its forte, the set rounds out its offering with proficient litigation and corporate management practices. Overseeing the whole operation, managing partner Sang-sun Nam is well placed to answer initial enquires.

Shin & Kim

An all-encompassing technical team and a strategic alliance with Koreana Patent Firm enables Shin & Kim to deliver cradle-to-grave patent services, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceutical instructions. Careful supervision from several former KIPO patent examiners ensures that prosecution is seamlessly and swiftly executed, but it is in court that the set truly distinguishes itself. High-profile battles against major multinationals are dispatched with vim and vigour on behalf of a primarily domestic client base. In the process, the set has won a number of far-reaching judgments with broad industry repercussions. Qualified both as a patent attorney and lawyer, IT aficionado Bo Kyung Lim is a natural pick to secure and enforce valuable patents.

Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm

Boasting sophisticated prosecution abilities that are “a magnet for Korean enterprises”, boutique Yoon & Lee puts to work a roster of eminently qualified technical experts whose talents for chemistry, electronics and cosmetics briefs more than make up for whatever the set lacks in size. “A mentor to the IP community”, Dong Yol Yoon demonstrates “a burning passion” for his work. “His devotion to improving the Korean IP system must be admired.” The Intellectual Property Forum president is a fount of insight and analysis for all things chemistry related.

Yoon & Yang LLC

With offices dotted across Asia, commercial law troupe Yoon & Yang dispenses the full suite of IP services over an impressively broad geographical footprint. With an initial focus on the IT and entertainment sectors – in which it has significant expertise – the prosecution practice is now undergoing a market shift towards the biotech and chemistry areas, so as to improve its appeal to multinational pharmaceutical outfits. The approach is paying off, with the firm recently acting for Merck Sharp & Dohme in a dispute with Pfizer relating to pneumonia vaccine products worth $7 billion. Dong Oh Hong is a name for the address book.

YOU ME Patent & Law Firm

Adept at tailoring the group’s comprehensive patent services to the particular needs of any buyer, YOU ME’s commercially focused professionals have earned the firm an ardent domestic following. Boasting experience obtaining patents across 50 jurisdictions, the capable individuals are split over electronics, mechanical and biochemistry groups, a China desk and an articulate translation department that is home to Korean, Chinese, English and Japanese speakers. With a background in microbiology and time spent in several top firms in Korea and the United States, life sciences whizz Sukheum Kwon is in high demand. Splitting his time between the Seoul and Washington DC offices, David Hunjoon Kim’s busy practice encompasses the prosecution of US patents and enforcement of patents in Korea. He is also a trusted source of infringement opinions.

YP Lee, Mock & Partners 

There is something for everyone at YP Lee, Mock & Partners; A-to-Z prosecution services are a potent draw for patent-hungry patrons, while a hard-fighting litigation division is the cherry on top. The firm shines brightest when filing, prosecuting and enforcing patents; the technical and legal prowess on offer combines with unwavering consumer focus to cement its status as a preferred choice for Fortune 500 multinationals and powerful domestic entities alike. Aerospace engineer Jehyun Kim confidently straddles the contentious/non-contentious divide. He currently serves as president of the Korean Chapter of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property.

Yulchon LLC 

Accumulating a host of prodigious legal talent within its ranks, including 50 years of judicial experience, Yulchon is routinely entrusted with go-for-broke patent cases by world-leading multinational players. No sector is out of reach for the technical team, although it is deployed to particularly superb effect in the electronics and healthcare arenas. The group recently invalidated AbbVie’s method-of-use patent for Humira, enabling its client Samsung Bioepis to launch its biosimilar version of the blockbuster drug on the Korean market; it also successfully appealed a decision by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission that Qualcomm had abused its market position. Winning $87.3 million in damages for the telecoms giant, the ensemble also showcased its profound mastery of licensing, technology and antitrust issues in the case. Instrumental in both victories were Samuel SungMok Lee and Jeong Yeol Choe. Formerly in-house with Samsung Electronics, Lee is now a vital contributor to both contentious and transactional success. Current vice president of the Korean IP Law Association, Choe heads the IP department with verve. He is also a former judge – a qualification he shares with colleagues Cheol Hwan Kim and Dong Soo Han. Kim recently secured wins for Amorepacific and Yuhan while Han frequently teaches at top-ranking Korean universities.

Other recommended experts

Cho & Partners’ Tae-Yeon Cho is qualified to practise in both Korea and the United States and is fluent in Korean, English and Japanese. Having ridden the surge of the domestic IP market since its beginnings, he continues to hold considerable influence on the national stage. An authority on domain names, Ho-Hyun Nahm also maintains a broad patent practice at Barun IP & Law.

Individuals: litigation

  • Duck Soon Chang - Kim & Chang
  • Jae Hoon Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Young Mo Kwon - Lee & Ko
  • Jay (Young-June) Yang - Kim & Chang
  • Kenneth K Cho - Kim & Chang
  • Tae-Yeon Cho - Cho & Partners 
  • Jeong Yeol Choe - Yulchon LLC 
  • Dong Soo Han - Yulchon LLC
  • Cheol Hwan Kim - Yulchon LLC
  • Young Sun Jung - FirstLaw PC
  • David Hunjoon Kim - YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
  • In Hwan Kim - Kim & Chang
  • Jay J Kim - Kim & Chang
  • John Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Un Ho Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Young Kim - Kim & Chang
  • Taeck Soo Kwon - Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • Samuel SungMok Lee - Yulchon LLC
  • Soowan Lee - AIP Patent and Law Offices
  • Bo Kyung Lim - Shin & Kim
  • Ho-Hyun Nahm - Barun IP & Law
  • Seung-Moon Park - Darae Law & IP Firm
  • Chun Y Yang - Kim & Chang

Individuals: prosecution

  • Eun Hwa Choi - FirstLaw PC
  • Jehyun Kim - YP Lee, Mock & Partners
  • Seong-Ki Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Terry Taehong Kim - Lee International IP & Law Group
  • Seong Ku Jang - FirstLaw PC
  • Sukheum Kwon - YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
  • Catherine Eunkyeong Lee - Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • Man-Gi Paik - Kim & Chang
  • Dong Yol Yoon - Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm