Korea tackles online sales of counterfeit goods

South Korea

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) can now request the closure of websites which sell or offer for sale counterfeit goods.

Over the past 10 years, the Korean government has stepped up its efforts in tackling online sales of counterfeit goods. In 1998 KIPO created the IPPC, an online system to report counterfeiting activities. KIPO was notified of 205 counterfeiting cases in 2003 and 1,953 cases in October 2007, 95% of which concerned the sale of counterfeit goods online.

As of November 20 2007, KIPO, in conjunction with the Ministry of Information and Communication, may close websites which sell counterfeit goods. The ministry oversees the content and information provided on the Internet and has the authority to close websites which engage in illegal or inappropriate activities.

Under the Act on the Promotion of the Utilization of Information, Communication Systems and the Projection of Information (as amended on July 27 2007), KIPO may make a request in writing that the ministry remove or close a website which sells or offers for sale counterfeit goods. KIPO must provide substantiating evidence and may contact the owner of the trademark(s) involved to collect relevant documents. The Korea Internet Safety Commission (KISC) must rule on the merits of each case and render a decision within seven days of the receipt of the request. If the KISC finds that a website sells and/or offers for sale counterfeit goods, the ministry will issue a notice to the owner and/or managing agent of the website requesting that the illegal activities be removed from the site. The website owner may submit evidence that the goods offered for sale are not counterfeit in order to avoid closure. If the owner fails to comply with the notice, the ministry will close the website. The owner has a right to appeal before the courts.

This development sends a clear message not only to counterfeiters, but also to website owners and bloggers, that the Korean government is committed to eradicating counterfeiting activities in Korea.

Sun R Kim, Kims and Lees, Seoul

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