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Copyright, design right violators to face up to threefold damage compensation: KIPO




South Korea will impose punitive statutory damages of up to three times upon breaches of trademark righs and design rights, starting in April 2021, in continued efforts to enhance knowledge-based intangible assets, the country’s intellectual property office said Friday.

The revision bills of the Trademark Act, Design Protection Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act have been approved by the National Assembly, the Korean Intellectual Property Office said in a release.

The core change is to introduce a statutory damage compensation that obligates breachers of copyright or design rights to pay up to three times the given damage. Conventionally, only patent rights and trade secrets were subject to such protections.

Generally in damage compensation, the right holder is required to prove the violation and the amount of damages. Statutory compensation, however, alleviates such burden of proof and allows the holder of rights to claim for compensation within the legal cap.

Also, the damage compensation cap in the copyright law was raised to 100 million won ($85,400) from 50 million won, considering inflation and market expansion since 2011 when the current ceiling was introduced.

The definition of “damages” has been revised in favor of the right holder.

The conventional clause stated that the damages should be assessed by the “generally expected” amount of profits, which frequently restricted the range of damages to the average royalty. Under the revised rules, the right holder may claim for a “reasonably expectable amount.”

Should a trade secret leaker fail to abide by the corrective recommendation, authorities are entitled to make a public announcement of the violation, adding pressure for compliance.

“With these latest revisions, we have laid the foundation to an improved market environment in which intellectual assets may be traded at a fair price,” said KIPO Gov. Kim Young-rae.

As a follow-up action, the intellectual property office vowed to soon introduce enhanced protective rules for patent-holding small and medium-sized enterprises.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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