Extra! Korea

January 16, 2010

Stole someone’s technology? The government will help protect you from lawsuits

Filed under: intellectual property, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 1:48 pm

The Joongang Daily tells us that the Korean government intends to help small- and medium-sized businesses, SMEs, fight overseas patent lawsuits by giving legal advice and providing insurance.

Additionally, the government hopes to nurture “invention capital” aimed at helping local companies buy and commercialize patents from colleges and research institutes. This pre-emptive measure, the ministry said, will help local companies avoid patent lawsuits in the first place.

According to a recent report by the Federation of Korean Industries, the largest business lobby group in Korea, many local firms have been sued or have faced threats of a lawsuit by so-called “patent trolls.” Patent trolls are also called non-performing entities, as they don’t actually use patents in their manufacturing operations but instead look to make money by suing other companies for breach of patent.

The FKI said there are around 220 patent trolls across the world.

I would support SMEs being protected from patent trolls, who seem to be aggressive, nonproductive entities, and having the purchases and commercialization of patents from universities and research institutes facilitated. Korea’s only real resource is its people, who are well-known throughout the world for their hard work. But look at the example that they begin the article with.

A Busan-based business that makes semiconductor parts was embroiled in a lawsuit last year filed by a Japanese firm, which claimed the Korean company breached certain technology patents.

The local company fought the allegation in Japanese court, but it wound up losing the case and eventually withdrew from the Japanese market.

The decision was a solid blow to the company, as its Japan business generated around 10 billion won ($9 million) in annual sales. The company, offered as an example by the government, is just one of numerous small and midsize businesses in Korea that has run into serious issues involving legal disputes by patent holders overseas.

This company doesn’t seem to be a victim. It looks like they stole someone else’s technology, and were caught and punished. If this is their best example of a poster child, then that’s just sad and reminds me of past examples of shameless intellectual property theft (see here, here, and here). Even now, the prevailing idea seems to be: “It’s not stealing if we do it.”

And, of course, let’s not forget about G-Dragon.

MC Mong, I haven’t forgotten you, either.


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