Government reinforces IP rights protection and border control

South Korea

In a Korea-Britain conference held on March 18 2008, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that Korea is stepping up its fight against the production, distribution, import and export of counterfeit goods.

Although the number of counterfeit goods manufactured in Korea and exported to the United States, the European Union and Japan decreased dramatically in 2007, counterfeiting is still a significant problem in Korea. In order to tackle the issue, the government proposed to implement several measures, including:

  • the monitoring of counterfeiters, manufacturers, distributors, sellers and buyers; and

  • the collecting of information on the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit goods.

The public's participation is sought through various schemes. Under the 'reward system', for example, individuals are rewarded for reporting the presence of counterfeit goods; the amount of the reward depends on the volume of the goods. Currently, an individual will be rewarded if he or she reports the existence of counterfeit goods worth W100 million; however, this amount is to be reduced to W20 million.

KIPO is also strengthening the fight against the sale of counterfeit goods online. Websites, cybercafés and blogs will be monitored tightly. In order to shut down a website for selling counterfeit goods, KIPO must report the case to the Korean Internet Safety Commission (for further details please see "Korea tackles online sales of counterfeit goods").

With regard to border control, the Korean Customs Service currently offers a re-registration procedure for trademarks but not copyright, as re-registration of copyright is more complex. However, the service is planning to strengthen the protection of IP rights by introducing a copyright re-registration procedure.

Border control includes the following measures:

  • a ban on the export and import of counterfeit goods;

  • the customs clearance procedure; and

  • the reporting of infringing goods to the competent authorities.

In addition, the Customs Service now has the authority to control goods that are suspected of being counterfeit.

Currently, exporters and importers may request customs clearance of infringing goods if they provide collateral security. However, in the future customs clearance will not be permitted where the goods are proven to be counterfeit.

Yoon Bae Kim, Kims & Lees, Seoul

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