Substantial efforts are being made by the South Korean government to turn the country into a regional Asian IP hub. The most recent effort involves creating the International IP Hub Court – a specialised court panel within the Patent Court which will decide patent-related appeals in English.

At present, the ratio of IP disputes involving foreign entities or individuals heard by the Patent Court is over 40%. To further encourage foreign IP owners to use the Patent Court as a hub for international IP disputes, the government is considering fully implementing the International IP Hub Court.

Test case

On June 28 2017 a hearing was conducted in English for the first time in the history of the South Korean courts. The case was an appeal of a final rejection of a patent application pursued by 3M Innovative Properties Company. The respondent was the Korean Intellectual Property Office, and the case was heard by the Patent Court.

During the hearing, both parties gave their presentations in English. Questions from the Patent Court and the parties' responses were also provided in English. Further, the decision was made available in English.

While only the final hearing and decision were in English in the test case, if the International IP Hub Court is fully implemented, English will be used for the entire proceedings. This means that briefs can be submitted in English, and all hearings will be conducted in English.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.

For further information on this topic please contact Duck Soon Chang, John J Kim or Ki Yun Nam at Kim & Chang by telephone (+82 2-3703-1114) or email (ducksoon.chang@kimchang.com, jjhkim@kimchang.com or kynam@kimchang.com). The Kim & Chang website can be accessed at www.kimchang.com.