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Lee & Ko News

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Awards Ranking
Lee & Ko Wins the Most Awards by Category and “Law Firm of the Year” at ABLJ Korea Law Awards 2023


Lee & Ko was selected as the only “Law Firm of the Year” in Korea at the Korea Law Awards 2023 hosted by the Asia Business Law Journal (ABLJ). In addition, Lee & Ko was honored with the most awards among Korean law firms as the firm was selected as one of the “Best overall law firms”, an award awarded to law firms with excellent reviews in all categories out of a total of 34 categories evaluated by ABLJ, and was awarded in a total of 25 categories including practice areas such as Corporate & Commercial, M&A, Banking & Finance, Litigation, In/Outbound Investment, Patent, Taxation, TMT, Fintech etc. 

The Asia Business Law Journal selected Lee & Ko as the law firm of the year, highlighting its success in a USD 700 million ICC arbitration case and in critical cases involving KEPCO, KHNP and Westinghouse which established Lee & Ko’s renowned position as the leading arbitration firm in the nuclear sector. 

According to ABLJ, one of Lee & ko's clients also evaluated that “Lee & Ko adeptly identified the key issues in the case, elucidated the loopholes in the opposing party’s argument, and effectively persuaded the court through compelling written and verbal articulations”.

Asia Business Law Journal, a regional law journal in Asia, has been conducting surveys on lawyers from domestic and foreign law firms and companies, and has been evaluating domestic law firms since 2021 based on performance data by category submitted by domestic law firms.
2024.02.28
Seminar/Event
Seminar with the Department of Healthcare of the Korea In-House Counsel Association
Lee & Ko held a seminar in collaboration with the Department of Healthcare of the Korea In-House Counsel Association on 22 February 2024.

In the first session, Ms. Young Eun Son presented countermeasures against search and seizure based on her 25 years of experience as an expert in various fields related to criminal cases, including adjunct professor at the Ewha Womans University and University of Seoul Law School and assistant special prosecutor at the special prosecution on master sergeant Ye Ram Lee’s death. She explained in detail various matters that require particular attention based on the Criminal Procedure Act revised in 2011 and 2016 and the latest precedents related to search and seizure.

In the second session, Mr. Seung Ho Choi gave a presentation on “Responding to KFTC Dawn Raids.” Since 2012, he has used his vast experience in responding to KFTC dawn raids and conducting compliance projects to give presentations that help practitioners with important practical issues related to dawn raids.

In the third session, Mr. Yuseok Kim, a partner of Lee & Ko, presented "2023 M&A Trends in the Healthcare Market". He shared useful reports and analysis on 2023 M&A trends in the healthcare sector, predicted the recovery of the M&A market in 2024, and explained various legal issues that are important to consider in healthcare M&A transactions from the perspective of a healthcare M&A expert.

In the fourth session, Ms. Soo Yeon Oh gave a presentation on “The trend of Food Technology Regulations”. She shared overseas trends and current status of regulations on culture meat(cell culture food ingredients) and MediFood (special medical food) among the food tech business fields, and suggested future tasks and presented prospects from a healthcare expert perspective.
2024.02.22
Awards Ranking
Band 1 in 7 Practice Areas by "Chambers Global 2024"


Lee & Ko has been recognized once again for its exceptional capabilities in legal service in 2024 by Chambers Global. The firm was ranked as a top leading law firm (Band 1) in seven practice areas by the Chambers Global in its latest 2024 edition. As for the individual rankings, the firm’s 32 attorneys has been recognized as Ranked Lawyers for their remarkable performance in their respective practice areas.


Banking & Finance
Capital Markets
Corporate/M&A
Dispute Resolution: Litigation
Intellectual Property
International & cross Border Capabilities: South Korean Firms
North Korea: General Business Law


Banking & Finance: Yeo Kyoon Yoon, Woo Young Jung, Yong-Jae Chang, Myoung Chul Kwak
Capital Markets: Hyunjoo Oh, Seunga Hyun
Capital Markets: Securitisation: Jin Hong Kwon, Hyunjoo Oh
Corporate/M&A: Kyu Wha Lee, Sanggon Kim, Hyeong Gun Lee, Ho Joon Moon, Yong Joon Yoon
Dispute Resolution: Arbitration: Robert Wachter, Sean(Sungwoo) Lim, Saemee Kim, Sanghoon Han, Grace Yoon
Dispute Resolution: Litigation: Won Seok Ko, Pyoung Keun Song, Seong Won Chang
Intellectual Property: Jae Hoon Kim, Un Ho Kim, Choong Jin Oh, Keum Nang Park, Hyeon Gil Ryoo, Vera Eun Woo Lee
International Trade: Kichang Chung, Young Gee Park, Young Jae Cho, Hyunsoo Joo
North Korea: General Business Law (Foreign Expertise based abroad in South Korea): Hyung Sub Lim
2024.02.19
Seminar/Event
[Chosun Biz] Lee & Ko Volunteers at the Bread of Love Sharing Center
On January 23, 2024, Chosun Biz reported Lee & Ko’s pro bono activity. About 30 people, including employees and their families of Lee & Ko, participated in the volunteer work of “Bread of Love Sharing Center” at the Seongdong Bread Sharing Center of the Seoul branch of the Korean Red Cross on January 20. The volunteers made bread such as Bean Past Hotteok and Chestnut Muffin, and delivered it to undernourished neighbors in the community through the Korean Red Cross. Seok Pyo Hong, administrator of the Pro Bono Committee, said “We hope this bread, which is clumsy but made with all our heart, will be a little help to the neighbors who are on the verge of undernourishment”. 
2024.01.23
Awards Ranking
'Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2024' ranks Lee & Ko in the top tier in 15 practice areas


Lee & Ko was selected as Tier 1 law firm in Korea across 15 fields according to ‘The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2024’. Furthermore, 52 Lee & Ko attorneys were selected as ‘Hall of Fame’, ‘Leading Individuals’, ‘Next Generation Partners’, and ‘Rising Stars’ in their respective fields.

[Firm Rankings]
 Antitrust and Competition
 Banking & Finance
 Capital Markets
 Corporate and M&A
 Dispute Resolution
 Fintech and financial services regulatory
 Insurance
 Intellectual Property
 International Arbitration
 Labour and Employment
 Projects and Energy
 Real Estate
 Regulatory: Compliance and Investigations
 Shipping
 Tax

[Ranked Lawyers]
 Antitrust and Competition: Hwan Jeong, Suruyn Kim, Jung Won Kwon
 Banking & Finance: Yeo Kyoon Yoon, Myoung Chul Kwak, Hyunsu Kim
 Capital Markets: Hyunjoo Oh, Dongyon Kim
 Corporate and M&A: Hyeong Gun Lee, Ho Joon Moon, Sang Gon Kim, Daehoon Koo, Kyungchun Kim, Sung Min Kim
 Dispute Resolution: Pyoung Keun Song, Seong Won Chang, Jae Heon Park, Yeon Woo Lee
 Fintech and financial services regulatory: Jongsoo (Jay) Yoon, Hyeong Min Yoo, Seong Hwan Ju
 Insurance: Jin Hong Kwon, Jin-Young Jung, Sae Um Kim
 Intellectual Property: Choong Jin Oh, Keum Nang Park, Un Ho Kim,
 Intellectual Property: PATMA: Kyungjin Kim, Soo Yeon Park
 International Arbitration: Robert Wachter, Sean (Sungwoo) Lim, Saemee Kim, Sunyoung Kim, Elizabeth Shin
 Labour and Employment: Chang-Soo Jin, Sang-Hoon Lee, Jae Hoon-Choi, William Kim, Shawn (Seong Ho) Han
 Projects and Energy: Hun Ko, Hyunsu Kim
 Real Estate: Jin Wook Yang, Jee In Kim
 Regulatory: Compliance and Investigations : Tae Yop Lee, Jae Woo Jung, Jung Han Nam
 Shipping: Jin-Young Jung, Yang Ho Yoon
 Tax: Byeong Jun Son, Sung Hyun Ryu
 TMT: Kwang Bae Park, Hyun Jun Kim, Il Shin Lee

The Legal 500 Asia Pacific is annually published by Legalease, a global agency that evaluates the capacity of law firms all over the world based on various standards through a comprehensive review of submitted documents by law firms, interviews with lawyers specialized in each field, and feedback from over 300,000 clients.
2024.01.18
Seminar/Event
[Safety News] Korea Safety Technology Association and Lee & Ko Sign Serious Accidents Prevention MOU
December 20, 2023 – Safety News has reported that Lee & Ko and the Korea Safety Technology Association have entered into a serious accidents prevention MOU aimed at preventing serious accidents. The MOU ceremony took place on December 19th at the conference room of the Korea Safety Technology Association in Ansan, Gyeonggi-do. Through this MOU, the two organizations have committed to collaborating to ensure that safety values take precedence in government, businesses, and civil society, fostering a culture of safety.

Furthermore, the MOU outlines joint efforts to promote system improvements and the development of safety management systems to prevent serious accidents. The collaboration will involve information exchange, the exchange of human resources, and joint efforts in safety diagnosis, consulting, and education. The goal is to work together to enhance safety practices and contribute to preventing serious accidents in various sectors.
2023.12.20

Press & Releases

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[Aju News] [Legal Update] “Stop Technology Theft”… Quintuple Punitive Damages Allowed for Trade Secret Misappropriation
On February 13, 2024, Aju News shared in its news article Lee & Ko’s attorney Mr. Un Ho Kim’s remark on a recent update regarding the Act on the Prevention of Unfair Competition and Protection of Trade Secrets.  Mr. Kim explained that, with proposed amendments to the Act now passed at the Cabinet meeting, “businesses should be mindful that damages awarded in intellectual property cases could increase significantly and so is the possibility of criminal punishment, and should establish meticulous measures to prevent infringement of intellectual property rights.”  He further commented, “in the event of an intellectual property dispute, the right holder needs to actively utilize the relevant provisions in the Act.”
2024.02.13
[The Fact] Large Law Firms Work Hard as Election Law TF Competition Grows in the Pending Election
On February 11, 2024, The Fact introduced Lee & Ko’s “Election Response TF Team”. It reported that “Lee & Ko’s Election Response TF Team is featured by providing quick advice from the preparation and campaign stage of the election in case of a problem caused by the candidate’s violation of the election law prior to the election”. Attorney Jung Hwa Han, who is in charge of Lee & Ko’s Election Response TF Team, stated that the team “consists of experts who have practical experience in elections while serving in the prosecution service and court” and that “the team is capable of providing a multi-dimensional and comprehensive response at all stages from the election preparation stage to the National Election Commission inspection stage, investigation stage and trial stage”. 
2024.02.11
[Legal Times] [Employment/Labor] Hyundai Motor's 'Poor Job Performance' Justified Termination
On January 28, 2024, the Legal Times reported the latest litigation win by Lee&Ko. The 3rd Division of the Supreme Court (Chief Justice Seok-jun Oh) held that Hyundai Motor Company’s termination of Employee A for poor job performance was justified, thereby ordering the cancellation of the Central Labor Relations Commission’s decision. As a result, the Supreme Court’s decision reversed the district court’s affirmation and remanded the case to the Seoul High Court in favor of Hyundai Motor Company. Lee&Ko served as counsel to Hyundai Motor Company in the Supreme Court.
2024.01.28
[Money Today] Lee & Ko Reports Sales of KRW 3,723 Billion, Defending its 2nd Place
On January 28, 2024, Money Today reported that Lee & Ko has recorded sales of KRW 3,723 last year based on National Tax Service’s filing of VAT return. Money Today introduced that “Although the sales decreased by 1.1% year-on-year, Lee &Ko defended its second place”. 
2024.01.28

Deals & Cases

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Brain Asset Management and KY Private Equity’s Acquisition of Preferred Shares of SK Pharmteco
On October 20, 2023, Lee & Ko successfully represented Brain Asset Management Co., Ltd. and KY Private Equity Co., Ltd. in their acquisition of approximately 9.21% of the preferred shares of SK Pharmteco Inc., originally a wholly-owned subsidiary of SK Inc. prior to the acquisition, based in Delaware, USA (the “Target”) through (i) Opus 1st Inc., a special purpose company established by an institutional PEF with Brain Asset Management and Korea Development Bank as its general partners, (ii) Brain SP Generalized Private Investment Trust No. 45 and Brain SP Generalized Private Investment Trust No. 46, each an investment trust established and managed by Brain Asset Management, and (iii) Opus 4th Inc., a special purpose company established by institutional PEFs with KY Private Equity as their general partner ((i) through (iii) collectively, the “Investors”) (collectively, this “Transaction”). 

This Transaction was a pre-IPO transaction in anticipation of a public listing of the Target shares on the Nasdaq market, and aside from the high deal value of USD 300,210,071 as the aggregate purchase price, the deal structure itself was quite complicated as it involved issues such as the establishment of multiple investment trusts and special purpose companies as investment vehicles. This Transaction also involved the execution of a shareholders agreement to coordinate the commercial understandings between the Investors and SK Inc., the original shareholder, and there were further complex issues to be resolved in light of the regulations and procedures under the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act, the Monopoly Regulations and Fair Trade Act and the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act, as well as tax issues both in and out of Korea and antitrust filing issues in the US and EU. Despite these complexities, Lee & Ko was able to provide effective advice to reach a successful consummation of this Transaction within a short period of time. Lee & Ko was involved in the Transaction and served as transaction counsel in all aspects of this Transaction, from the selection of preferred bidders at the auction stage through the review of transaction structure, establishment of PEFs and special purpose companies, foreign exchange report filings, tax review, antitrust filing review, preparation/negotiation of the share subscription agreement and shareholders agreement, execution and closing.
2024.01.04
Total legal services for global blockbuster Entresto®
Lee&Ko has been representing Novartis AG, a global pharma company, in dozens of lawsuits related to its blockbuster heart failure drug Entresto® and advising on various regulatory matters.

Entresto is not only the first standard treatment in 30 years for heart failure, a leading cause of human mortality, but also a blockbuster drug which achieved global sales of $4.64 billion by 2022.

Since the beginning of 2021, dozens of generic companies have filed invalidation actions as well as scope confirmation actions against patents covering Entresto, seeking to bring generic drugs to market sooner. While simultaneous patent litigations are currently pending in the U.S., Europe, India, and other parts of the world, Lee&Ko has been able to successfully defend the patentee in the Korean market for Entresto against infringing generics until now through strategic litigation based on deep expertise which also includes independent discovery of supporting evidence such as data from the Cambridge Structural Database.

As the first case involving a supramolecular compound, the case, requires solving complicated technical issues through evidence interpretation and legal analysis in a completely new technical area.  This will set an important precedent for future cases involving highly technical issues in a completely new technological sector.
2023.12.29
Release by the U.S. Government of IRA Guidance on FEOC
Lee & Ko has advised the Korean Government and global battery businesses on the proposed guidance on the interpretation of “foreign entity of concern” (FEOC) requirements for Section 30D clean vehicle credit of the Internal Revenue Code, released by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of the Treasury on December 1, 2023.

Considered one of major achievements of the Biden Administration, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has profound impacts on both exports to and investments in the United States by Korean battery manufacturers with competitive edges in the global market. Lee & Ko’s prompt advices help Korean companies considering cooperation with Chinese counterparts, who may fall within the definition of FEOCs, to develop and operate strategies that can satisfy IRA requirements.
2023.12.01
Review of S Insurance’s Co-Insurance
In the context of the introduction of the IFRS17 and the K-ICS and the consequential emphasis on sound management of insurance capital, the exploration of co-insurance has emerged as a strategic avenue. Subsequently, around 2020, regulatory foundations for co-insurance transactions were incorporated into insurance supervisory regulations. In March 2023, the financial regulatory authorities further supplemented this framework by formulating comprehensive guidelines for the handling of co-insurance operations.

Distinguished by asset transfer and asset retention models, insurance companies have traditionally favored the simplicity of the 'asset transfer' structure in their co-insurance transactions. However, “S Insurance” has recently engaged Lee & Ko to explore the initiation of co-insurance policies employing a relatively intricate yet less liquidity-burdening 'asset retention' structure, distinguishing itself from prevailing practices with foreign reinsurers.

Lee & Ko played a pivotal role in providing legal counsel, meticulously reviewing transactional conditions, and advising the client in a direction that aligns with the compliance parameters of the fundamental asset retention co-insurance structure and the aforementioned operational guidelines. This signifies a noteworthy contemplation of the less conventional asset retention co-insurance structure within the South Korean landscape.
2023.11.30
Advising on the legislation of laws regulating actuaries
Despite the pivotal role actuaries play in shaping insurance terms, premiums, and ensuring accounting transparency, there is currently no distinct and independent legal framework governing the actuarial profession in South Korea. Instead, pertinent regulations are integrated into the Insurance Business Act and its subordinate statutes. Notably, a regulatory vacuum exists concerning actuaries associated with public pension institutions and other financial entities beyond insurance companies.

The Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group at Lee & Ko has collaboratively engaged with the firm's legislative consulting team to amalgamate the collective expertise of accomplished attorneys and professionals in representing the Institute of Actuaries of Korea. The firm conducted an exhaustive analysis of legislative precedents, delving into legislative intentions, aiming to deliver optimal advice tailored to the client's needs throughout the legislative process. Consequently, in November 2023, Ms. Joo Kyung Yoon of the People Power Party, a member of the 21st National Assembly, submitted the draft of the Actuary Law, marking the initiation of the legislative process.
2023.11.30
Lee & Ko wins all 10 cases for domestic blockbuster drug Dukarb®
Lee&Ko successfully defeated the generics’ challenge against Boryong’s patent covering Dukarb®, which is a domestic blockbuster drug, before the IPTAB and subsequently the IP High Court. On November 30, 2023, the IP High Court ruled in favor of the patentee in all 10 cases, including both scope confirmation actions and invalidation actions, filed by dozens of generic companies, including Arlico pharmaceuticals, against the Dukarb® combination product patent. 

Dukarb tablet, as a combination of Kanarb® (fimasartan) with amlodipine, is a blockbuster drug that has shown excellent antihypertensive effects and generated sales of KRW 40 billion in 2022. In 2021, more than 45 domestic generic companies filed scope confirmation actions and invalidation actions to assert non-infringement and invalidity of the Dukarb® patent, but the patentee prevailed in all cases. The generic companies subsequently filed 10 appeal cases to the IP High Court, but the IP High Court upheld the decisions of the IPTAB on November 30, 2023.

The generic companies alleged invalidity of the patent at issue on various grounds such as novelty, inventiveness, lack of the description requirement, and incomplete invention, while simultaneously claiming non-infringement on the grounds of compound differentiation and salt change. Therefore, it was essential for the patentee to present a consistent and strategic response to the various claims made by different generic companies. Despite unfavorable case precedents on combination drug patents, Lee & Ko successfully argued for inventiveness of the patent at issue by focusing on the synergistic effects of the combination product. Likewise, in the negative scope confirmation action cases, Lee & Ko presented persuasive claim construction and equivalent infringement based not only on the claim language but also on the specification and the common technical knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, Lee & Ko prevailed in all 10 cases, again demonstrating the team’s expertise in healthcare and IP.
2023.11.30
Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group conducts mock dawn raid on multinational corporate group
Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group conducted a mock dawn raid and comprehensive antitrust risk assessment of a multinational corporate group (“Group A”) under the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (“MRFTA”). 

During the mock dawn raid, Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group used the same methods and procedures as the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) in its investigations and offered additional solutions for deficiencies that were discovered during Group A’s response to the mock dawn raid.

In addition, Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group collected materials and conducted interviews with key executives and employees of Group A’s three affiliate companies. Using the information gathered during the mock dawn raid, Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group confirmed the compliance of the companies with the MRFTA and provided measures for improving compliance in necessary areas. 

The mock dawn raid conducted by Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group is invaluable as it helps to prevent executives and employees with limited knowledge and experience on the MRFTA from committing acts during a dawn raid that could be considered obstruction and providing guidance on cooperating with a KFTC investigation while protecting the right to defense. Group A utilized the mock dawn as an opportunity to check and strengthen compliance management in all areas of its business. 

Following the recent reorganization of the KFTC in separating its investigation and policy divisions, establishing proper procedures for responding to KFTC dawn raids is of the utmost importance as the investigative function of the KFTC has been strengthened through the reorganization and led to an increase in the number of dawn raids. 

Lee & Ko’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group actively utilizes its extensive expertise in responding to large-scale dawn raids to ensure companies are prepared for dawn raids, and more importantly, thoroughly and comprehensively managing MRFTA related risks. 
2023.11.15

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Research

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