South Korea updates

Employment & Immigration

Contributed by Lee & Ko
Greater reforms for promoting work-life balance
  • South Korea
  • 06 November 2019

Significant changes to the Gender Equality Employment and Work-Life Balance Support Act, including changes to employees' rights to paternity leave and reduced working hours for child and family care, recently came into effect. Employers are strongly advised to review their existing practices and policies to ensure compliance with the act's latest amendments. Workplace disruptions are expected due to the increased benefits.

Key changes to Labour Standards Act in 2019
  • South Korea
  • 06 February 2019

In 2018 there were major reforms to South Korean employment laws, including the Labour Standards Act. This resulted in many employers struggling to adjust employees' weekly working hours to comply with, for example, the new 52-hour limit. The legislative reforms and amendments proposed in 2018 will take effect in 2019. For example, a duty to prevent workplace harassment will be introduced, as will a uniform standard for termination notice exemptions.

Recent changes to employment law affect business operations
  • South Korea
  • 18 July 2018

South Korea recently overhauled its employment laws. Some of the most significant changes that may have an impact on business operations concern annual paid leave entitlements and fertility treatment leave, eligibility for childcare leave, protection for workplace sexual harassment victims, mandatory disability awareness training and the scope of the anti-discrimination statutes.

Termination for personal use of corporate cards held as wrongful termination
  • South Korea
  • 23 May 2018

The Seoul High Court recently ruled that an employee's repeated personal use of his or her corporate card, in and of itself, may not always constitute sufficient just cause for termination. The court's ruling is an adverse precedent that may have an impact on many businesses as they consider whether to terminate an employee for personal use of corporate cards. However, this case is now pending before the Supreme Court.

Occupational Safety and Health Act amendments
  • South Korea
  • 16 May 2018

In recognition of the hardship faced by emotional labour workers, there have been increasingly audible calls to improve their working environment, which has led to a view that employers must take proactive steps to protect the health and wellbeing of such employees. Although legislative changes have been insubstantial, the National Assembly of Korea recently passed legislative amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act which seek to protect emotional labour workers.


Intellectual Property

Contributed by NAM & NAM
Relying on KIPO to combat infringement
  • South Korea
  • 16 November 2020

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) operates a special judicial police (SJP) unit under which officials belonging to the KIPO can take charge of criminal cases relating to the infringement of IP rights. Over the past decade, the SJP has handled approximately 45,000 cases, close to 3,500 criminal charges have been made and approximately 12 million counterfeit products have been confiscated.

Considerations when establishing South Korean patent portfolios
  • South Korea
  • 09 November 2020

This article compares the patent registration rates by technology field in South Korea with the other IP5 jurisdictions (ie, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China) and also looks at the systems which may be used to establish a patent portfolio, with a comparison with the United States in particular.

Treble damages now available for trademark and design infringement
  • South Korea
  • 09 November 2020

Recent amendments to the Trademark Act and the Design Protection Act have added support for treble damages in certain infringement scenarios. These amendments follow similar changes to the Patent Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act relating to wilful patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation which came into effect in July 2019. This article examines the amendments in detail.

Influence of functional parts when determining design similarity
  • South Korea
  • 26 October 2020

When determining the similarity of designs, how is a court's judgment affected when a design element has commonality with a functional element? A recent Supreme Court decision allows some insight into this question. Per existing precedent, the Supreme Court ruled that where the common parts of compared designs are an intrinsic part of the product, or a basic or functional form of the design, such parts should be given low importance.

IP marking: risks and benefits
  • South Korea
  • 05 October 2020

There is no obligation to mark IP rights on products in South Korea. Whether to do so is at the discretion of the IP owner and no direct negative legal consequences arise from a failure to indicate IP rights. Nevertheless, indicating IP rights does grant some legal benefits. Further, from a practical sense, it may be a useful advertisement or marketing tool. This article examines the risks and benefits of IP marking.


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