Wednesday, August 11, 2010

South Korea Launches "Largest-Ever" Antitrust Probe on Patent Abuse

From Mobile Business Briefing:

South Korea’s antitrust body has launched an extensive investigation into possible patent-related abuses by a range of local and foreign-owned IT and telecoms firms, the government said this week. According to a JoongAng Daily report, the investigation is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the country. “With the increase in patent conflicts in the IT world, there are growing concerns about patent abuse,” the FTC said in a statement. “In the IT industry, patents are often more critical than in other sectors and can determine whether a company fails of succeeds.” The investigation is set to last six to eight weeks and will target 40 domestic and 19 foreign firms involved in semiconductors, computers and mobile telecommunications products

“Companies with market dominance and widespread technologies that have become industry standards will be targeted,” said Kim Jun-beom, director of the FTC’s market supervision team. “Foreign companies that have a large influence on the domestic market also will be targeted.” Although the government's specific targets are unknown, experts say the probe will likely cover large domestic firms such as Samsung, LG and Hynix Semiconductor. The investigation is thought to be part of a crackdown by the government on alleged abuses by large corporations, including alleged unfair practices toward smaller companies. “Local small and midsize enterprises have suffered considerable damage from patent-related abuses by large domestic and foreign companies,” Kim said.
The probe is intended to establish a "fair" marketplace by rooting out practices believed to prevent follow-up technology development and help protect smaller companies from allegedly unfair business practices. 

The probe is scheduled to last until Sept. 17 for domestic companies, and will continue through the end of the same month for multinational companies.

See also, Asia Pulse, "S. Korean Antitrust Watchdog Probing IT Firms Over Patent Abuse" (link)

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