Friday, November 4, 2016

Jeong on Criminal Patent Cases in South Korea

As I discuss in my book, criminal sanctions for patent infringement are available in some countries (though not the U.S.), but they tend not be used very much.  (For discussion in my book, see pages 76, 176, 275 & n.205, 302 n.62, 347-48, and 367-68; for previous discussion on this blog, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  In South Korea, criminal sanctions for willful or intentional patent infringement are available, and are sometimes initiated by patent owners as a means for obtaining evidence (see book p.368, citing Patrick Yangoh Kim, Patents, in Intellectual Property in Korea 49, 50-51 (Christopher Heath ed., 2003)).  Recently Gibong Jeong published a short article titled Why Does Korea Have So Few Criminal Patent Cases?, 30 Bloomberg BNA World Intellectual Property Report 37 (Nov. 1, 2016) (available here, but behind a paywall)  Mr. Jeong presents statistics from the Korean Prosecutors' Office comparing the number of criminal trademark and patent infringement cases from 2010-14.  As you might imagine, there are a lot more criminal trademark than patent cases; and only 139 of the latter (3.7%) have resulted in indictments and 1% in convictions.  Mr. Jeong discusses several reasons why there are so few criminal patent cases, among them a relatively short statute of limitations and a high rate of invalidation for challenged patents.  He notes, however, that "efforts are being made to address systemic deficiencies," including the Korean Supreme Prosecutors' Office recent hiring of three patent consultants.

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