South Korea

Despite the covid-19 pandemic, South Korea is on track to break last year’s record, with filing numbers up by 16% in mid-2020. This could be partly attributed to the growing popularity of Korean beauty and K-pop. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has noticed a substantial rise of 40% in trademark filings by local cosmetic companies over the past few years, dominated by LG Household & Health Care Ltd and Amorepacific Corporation, which are also among the top three filers in South Korea. Further, the local IP landscape has improved, with KIPO working tirelessly to educate and train global IP experts with WIPO for the past decade. Not only have authorities cracked down on South Korean copycats, KIPO has made expedited examinations of trademark filings easier to request.

Firms: enforcement and litigation

  • Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • Cho & Partners 
  • Kim & Chang
  • Lee & Ko
  • Yulchon LLC
  • Yoon & Yang IP LLC
  • DARAE LAW & IP LLC
  • Lee International IP & Law Group

Firms: prosecution and strategy

  • Cho & Partners 
  • FirstLaw PC 
  • Kim & Chang
  • YP Lee Mock & Partners
  • Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • Lee International IP & Law Group
  • YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
  • DAE-A International IP & Law Firm
  • DARAE LAW & IP LLC
  • HanYang International
  • KBK & Associates
  • Lee & Ko
  • Muhann Patent & Law Firm
  • SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm
  • Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm 
  • Yoon & Yang IP LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

On behalf of blue-chip multinationals, Bae, Kim & Lee LLC regularly executes multi-jurisdictional and complex mandates. A one-stop shop for IP services, the country’s second largest law firm can tackle domestic and cross-border disputes by drawing on the expertise of its team of foreign attorneys, former examiners and judges. Leading the IP department is former judge Taeck Soo Kwon, who is also the first president of the newly established Korean Intellectual Property Lawyers Association. IP litigator Jihyun Kim is equally adept in both contentious and transactional IP matters.

Cho & Partners 

Under the leadership of founding partners Tae-Yeon Cho and Ik-Hyun Seo, Cho & Partners has blossomed into “a strong team of talented, effective and responsive associates, who are always responsive and consistently achieve practical business results with their legal wins”. Acknowledged for its “strong expertise in the trademark field”, the IP boutique regularly serves up a well-balanced diet of forward-thinking prosecution advisory and registrations, supported by a strong contentious unit active in anti-counterfeiting and enforcement programmes. Its recent highlights include representing Louis Vuitton in a trademark infringement matter at the High Court against LG Household & Health Care Ltd and obtaining W70 million in damages and defending Red Bull in a large-scale trademark dispute with Bulls One. “Pre-eminent” IP litigator Cho and “trusted legal partner” Seo were the masterminds behind these successes. “Ik-Hyun is a creative and tenacious analyst and problem-solver. Coupling great legal expertise with a results-oriented and practical business approach, he has great insights into the needs and objectives of US business clients, including the high-tech industry.” Another patron cannot help but gush about Seo: “I have worked with Ik-Hyun for over a decade and he consistently ranks among the top five attorneys out of the hundreds that I work with globally. Not only is he considerate of a brand’s need to ensure value for money and always finds the most efficient and cost-effective approach, but also he takes the time to know the brand and the individuals with which he is working. By treating every client as a VIP and a partner, he immediately becomes a part of the team. He also makes himself available whenever needed, as he understands and appreciates a brand’s sense of urgency. His interactions and communications are always clear and concise too, leaving no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. It is a true pleasure working with Ik-Hyun and his firm.” An invaluable member of the team, Kathryn Lee manages day-to-day enforcement matters for famous companies, such as Apple, Hasbro, BMW and LVMH.

DAE-A International IP & Law Firm

A rising IP boutique in South Korea, DAE-A International IP & Law Firm takes a second bow in the WTR 1000. Its team of trademark and ex-KIPO attorneys assists a largely domestic clientele with protecting their trademark rights from search and monitoring to prosecution and dispute settlement. So-Jung Lee is a name for the address book.

DARAE LAW & IP LLC

For over two decades, DARAE Law & IP LLC has assisted mostly Korean companies with every IP matter under the sun. Established by former patent court judges and examiners, the one-stop shop combines legal and technical expertise to deliver comprehensive solutions to IP conundrums. A peer acknowledges that the outfit is “good for difficult cases, especially ones on appeal that involve important decisions”. Keumho Lee leads the team in non-contentious matters, while Young Sun Chung aids South Korean companies entering the Chinese market.

FirstLaw PC 

Thanks to a solid group, FirstLaw PC has won the mandate to handle an array of trademark and design work of famous domestic and foreign entities, including one of South Korea’s most famous entertainment companies. Besides continued investment in foreign language studies, the IP boutique recently added two paralegals to assist with trademark matters. Armed with more than two decades of experience in the trademark field, Jeong Won Lee is familiar with everything in trademark prosecution and “enjoys sharing her knowledge and insights with others in the IP profession”.

HanYang International

Making its sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000, HanYang International boasts a team of former in-house professionals from multinational corporations and a former patent examiner from KIPO. For the past 25 years, the IP boutique has served clients, big and small, in the full spectrum of trademark matters with the principles of being fast, economical and accurate as central to their services. Managing partner James Yeon-Soo Kim leads the trademark group.

KBK & Associates

Renowned among peers for serving Korean businesses, especially those in the household and health industries, KBK & Associates excels in domestic and outbound trademark and design prosecution. The IP boutique counts among its clientele the country’s top filers, LG Electronics and other LG divisions. After spending nearly two decades with the firm, In-Gyung Baek is a senior trademark attorney who “commands much respect among Korean attorneys”.

Kim & Chang

The only firm in South Korea to dominate both the prosecution and enforcement tables for years, Kim & Chang stands head and shoulders above its peers. Setting the gold standard for trademark portfolio management and enforcement, the largest full-service firm in South Korea also boasts the biggest IP practice, acting as primary IP counsel for the most famous companies in the world. As a foreign associate gushes, “Kim & Chang is a star firm and we gladly entrust it with trademark-related work for our most important clients. We have cooperated with it over decades for our firm’s international work and its level of service is of the highest grade. It is one of the most professional and reliable counsel in the Asian region.” Managing partner Jay (Young-June) Yang holds the reins of the IP and entertainment groups. “Jay is a great attorney and a very nice person to work with. He is highly professional, with extremely deep knowledge and understanding of the practical aspects of IP rights protection. His experience and broad expertise in numerous industries make him an invaluable counsel.” Gold-rated trademark guru Sung-Nam Kim straddles the contentious and non-contentious divide. “Sung-Nam is very responsive and provides practical business advice. I can rely on her to weigh the legal and business aspects of a matter to provide a reasonable recommendation. She is a pleasure to work with.” The trusted partner of global giants such as Apple, LVMH and Hermes, Ann Nam-Yeon Kwon is “often sought out for her excellent client care”. “Ann is a perfect lawyer and I can only confirm her great professionalism. She can obtain complex trademark registrations and act against counterfeiters with ingenious and effective actions.” Riding a wave of effusive client praise, Canadian lawyer Angela Kim makes her debut in the WTR 1000. “Angela has been a valued and trusted advisor for years. Her knowledge of trademark law is impeccable. She is also very business savvy, appreciating her clients’ business, time and resources.” “Kwon and Kim provide the best legal advice, advocacy and service on IP matters in Korea to obtain excellent results. We were most impressed with their willingness to think outside the box and work with us to develop innovative solutions, both on the strategy and client relations. We have since moved all our trademark portfolio to them and we are very pleased with the results.” A legion of diverse foreign-qualified lawyers certainly makes the IP group stand out, with Quebec attorney Alexandra Bélec and California attorney Alex Hyon Cho bringing an international perspective to the full spectrum of trademark work.

Lee & Ko

Revered for its top-notch trademark offering, Lee & Ko is “not just a run-of-the-mill shop”. “The firm boasts a very high-calibre group of professionals, including several former judges from the Korean judicial court. Attorneys who are well-versed in non-Korean culture also add high value to their ability to support foreign clients.” It recently expanded with four Korean IP litigators and nine trademark and patent attorneys. “Not only is the team always punctual and professional, they are eager and willing to help clients. I can easily feel that the partners do really care about their clients, even for trivial matters.” “They are diligent, responsive and highly competent. I cannot imagine using a different firm for our work.” Managing partner Jae Hoon Kim captains by example, leading Big Hit Entertainment (the exclusive agent for Korean boy band BTS) in a high-profile IP dispute at the Seoul High Court, alongside former IP judge Un Ho Kim. On the non-contentious front, Vera Eun Woo Lee is “obviously well-seasoned in her practice with very sharp legal skills and ability to communicate at a very high level with US clients” while the “responsive and extremely helpful” Il Hee Bahn makes a point to “directly answer all our questions”. Working closely together with trial lawyer John Kim, Lee and Bahn successfully represented Giorgio Armani in opposition proceedings. They also support other famous brands such as eBay Korea LLC and C B Fleet Company in their trademark prosecution strategy in South Korea. Besides advising Samsung Welstory on its prosecution strategy, Sun Chang is busy reviewing trademark licences for Emart Inc in its joint venture with Starbucks Corporation and drafting licence agreements for Inter IKEA Systems. Tae Hyung Kim is another standout trademark professional: “He spent many years residing and studying in the United States, and his fluency and ability to translate Korean matters for non-Korean clients is unparalleled.”

Lee International IP & Law Group

Trademark prosecution powerhouse Lee International IP & Law Group is also “fairly active in anti-counterfeiting activities”. For nearly sixty years, the IP boutique has drawn on the expertise of senior IP professionals, including a former Korea Supreme Court Justice and senior judges, to provide the full spectrum of trademark services. After spending over four decades in the IP industry, Young-Hwan Na has become a familiar face at the outfit.

Muhann Patent & Law Firm

“Known to provide fast and highly efficient solutions for big Korean conglomerates”, Muhann Patent & Law firm makes its sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000. Established in 2002, the IP boutique has expanded its services to trademark valuation, while maintaining a high volume of trademark applications. Through an extensive network of foreign associates, the trademark department of 18 handles 3,000 matters in the trademark space annually under the watchful eye of managing partner Kee-Wan Koo.

SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm

Riding the wave of effusive praise from foreign associates, WTR 1000 newcomer SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm joins its peers in the prosecution and strategy table. Noted for its “tenacity, diplomacy and commercial acumen”, the “go-to” IP boutique for law practices all around the world offers “excellent communication skills, quick response times and reasonable fees” for its trademark services. “When we provide instructions, we know that they will be followed, and strategic advice will be provided on an as-needed basis. The team is also extremely dedicated to clients, willing to go the extra mile when required.” Little wonder, then, that domestic giants such as Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom seek the 18-strong trademark team for its efficient services as well as “cost-effective, clear and detailed advice” to file domestic and foreign trademark applications. “Their dedication to their clientele and ability to handle complex matters quickly clearly sets them apart from their competitors.” “Of all the firms we have worked with in Korea, SungAm is the best.” A thrilled patron reports: “I am impressed and satisfied with their work. They listen carefully to client’s requests and provide the best advice after serious consideration of client needs and possible scenarios. I highly appreciate their expertise.”  Described by a foreign associate as “responsive, proactive and knowledgeable”, managing partner Matthew Kyung Min Suh is a “fantastic” trademark practitioner. An “excellent and hardworking trademark lawyer” who recently represented Hyundai Motors in a non-use cancellation trial against Genesis BBQ, WTR 1000 debutante Sookhyun Jeon takes charge of the trademark group. “She is also extremely nice and fun!”

Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm 

Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm makes its first entry in the WTR 1000 this year. Making its way into the prosecution and strategy table, the IP boutique primarily focuses on filing trademark applications for a largely domestic clientele, but with the recent addition of a Korean attorney to the compact trademark team of six, it has expanded its services to include infringement matters. Armed with more than 25 years of experience, Sang-Yong Lee has seen it all during his tenure as trademark examiner and trial examiner at the Korean Patent Tribunal for trademark and design disputes. Jaewon Yoon deserves a mention too: “I select a counsel based on their high standing in relation to a trademark matter, their deep knowledge of trademark law and open-minded approach. Jaewon satisfies all these criteria perfectly. I also appreciate her great ability to find the best solution to problems, her responsiveness and capacity to maintain a global standpoint and approach.”

Yoon & Yang IP LLC

For over half a century, Yoon & Yang IP LLC has served clients of all stripes on every trademark matter under the sun. “The best in Korea” boasts a particularly “strong European clientele”, for which it provides “prompt and quick responses” through “very impressive and excellent teamwork”. From prosecuting trademarks to enforcing IP rights, “it always goes beyond what I ask for”. With his “broad knowledge of intellectual property” and “outstanding ability and sincerity”, patrons praise managing partner DJ (Doug Jay) Lee for being “the best attorney in Korea”, as well as his “proactive and speedy” services. “With a specialty in writing and logical thinking, his written submissions are very logical and detailed. He always tries to think about the clients’ needs. I fully trust him – when he says he will put in his best efforts and win the case, he always comes through.”  Fluent in English and Chinese, YoungJoo Song is “eager and engaged” in all her work. “Responsive and proactive, she has a good understanding of our business model too.” “Besides providing accurate work quickly, she has good oral and written communication skills.” “She has never disappointed me in any instruction. She is accurate and speedy in providing opinions, even within a short time frame. I deeply trust Young Joo’s professional skills and dedications.” “Young Joo stands out as one of the most efficient, organised and effective IP lawyers I have worked with – she is an excellent communicator who is adept at understanding a client’s real objectives and offering a practicable solution without overcomplicating.” Lee and Song make a formidable duo – they recently represented the likes of Honda Sangyo, Beijing Sogou Technology and Line Friends Corporation at KIPO and the IP Trial and Appeal Board. Ted Kwon heads the trademark practice.

YOU ME Patent & Law Firm

Known for the prolific trademark filing services, YOU ME Patent & Law Firm has “a fairly good reputation among Korean clients for prosecuting trademarks”. Growing from strength to strength, the IP boutique recently added an outpost in Bundang to further enhance the services provided by 56 trademark professionals and eight foreign-qualified lawyers, who file IP applications in more than 130 countries. Sunghwan Kim represents domestic giants such as Samsung and SK Group in contentious matters, while Kyungsook Lee covers non-contentious cases, including opposition and cancellation proceedings.

YP Lee Mock & Partners

Praised by peers for its “good reputation among domestic businesses for its trademark prosecution practice”, it is little wonder that YP Lee Mock & Partners sits atop the prosecution and strategy table for its gold-rated service. With more than 180 IP attorneys on hand, the largest IP practice in South Korea works tirelessly on the full spectrum of IP matters. Yong Lee is the vice president of the Korea Patent Attorney Association, whereas Yoon-Kyung Cho specialises in assisting European companies. IP expert Younggi Hong knows all about managing IP portfolios.

Yulchon LLC

“Always working with passion and empathy for their clients, Yulchon provides us with the legal services we need.” “The team presents their opinions clearly and confidently, on top of giving advice beyond the trademark dispute at hand by solving problems as a whole and taking the time to thoroughly understand our business. In one of our cases, the firm carried out strategies and necessary tasks to defend us efficiently at a low cost, while also delivering key legal knowledge to new companies through very useful seminars on intellectual property and trade secrets. They are very active and trustworthy, doing their best for their clients regardless of the results. They have exceeded our expectations, and we are very grateful.” Often working with South Korean conglomerates on all sorts of legal matters and instructed for big-ticket IP disputes, the full-service law group has the full range of IP services covered. Besides overseeing 26 lawyers in the IP department – including former judges and in-house counsel – IP veteran Jeong Yeol Choe recently represented the Glaxo Group and GSK Korea against a domestic pharmaceutical company in a multijurisdictional dispute. New entries in the WTR 1000 this year are IP partners Hyeong Joo Lim and Yong Min Lee. Experienced in patent, trade secrets and compliance matters, Lim assisted with MS Co’s customs and border protection enforcement programme. With Choe, Lee successfully obtained a favourable ruling for Aekyung Industrial in an invalidation proceeding against LG Household & Heath Care.

Other recommended experts

A well-respected authority on anti-counterfeiting and domain name disputes, Ho-Hyun Nahm provides “reliable and effective advice”. Nahm leads Barun IP & Law, where he is supported by Bae, Kim & Lee alumnus Seo-Young Im.

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

  • Tae-Yeon Cho - Cho & Partners
  • Jeong Yeol Choe - Yulchon LLC
  • Un Ho Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Vera Eun Woo Lee - Lee & Ko
  • Ik-Hyun Seo - Cho & Partners
  • Alexandra Bélec - Kim & Chang
  • Sun Chang - Lee & Ko
  • Young Sun Chung - DARAE LAW & IP LLC
  • Jae Hoon Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Jihyun Kim - Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • John Kim - Lee & Ko
  • Sung-Nam Kim - Kim & Chang
  • Ann Nam-Yeon Kwon - Kim & Chang
  • Taeck Soo Kwon - Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
  • Doug Jay Lee - KAI International IP Law Firm  
  • Kyungsook Lee - YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
  • Young-Hwan Na - Lee International IP & Law Group
  • Ho-Hyun Nahm - Barun IP & Law
  • YoungJoo Song - KAI International IP Law Firm  

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

  • Sung-Woo Choi - Wooin Patent & Law Firm
  • Sung-Nam Kim - Kim & Chang
  • S Ted Kwon - Yoon & Yang IP LLC
  • Doug Jay Lee - KAI International IP Law Firm  
  • Jeong Won Lee - FirstLaw PC
  • Ho-Hyun Nahm - Barun IP & Law
  • Ik-Hyun Seo - Cho & Partners
  • In-Gyung Baek - KBK & Associates
  • Alexandra Bélec - Kim & Chang
  • Alex Hyon Cho - Kim & Chang
  • Yoon-Kyung Cho - YP Lee Mock & Partners
  • Younggi Hong - YP Lee Mock & Partners
  • Seo-Young Im - Barun IP & Law
  • Sookhyun Jeon - SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm
  • Sunghwan Kim - YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
  • Kee-Wan Koo - Muhann Patent & Law Firm
  • S Yong Lee - YP Lee Mock & Partners
  • Sang-Yong Lee - Yoon & Lee International Patent & Law Firm
  • YoungJoo Song - KAI International IP Law Firm  
  • Jay (Young-June) Yang - Kim & Chang
  • Il Hee Bahn - Lee & Ko
  • Angela Kim - Kim & Chang
  • James Yeon-Soo Kim - HanYang International
  • Jeonghyun Kim - Hanol Law Offices
  • Keumho Lee - DARAE LAW & IP LLC
  • Matthew Kyung Min Suh - SungAm Suh International Patent & Law Firm

Individuals: transactions