About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Two South Korean government-run organizations plan to examine ways to boost inter-Korean cooperation in intellectual property rights management through a series of research projects, documents seen by NK News this week showed.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) is set to commission research to “suggest practical grounds and establish a cooperative system to initiate inter-Korean cooperation in the field of industrial property rights and promote it in a stable manner.”
The “policy research” — which the KIPO aims to complete by November 15 and is set to cost KRW80 million ($67,255) — was opened to bidders last week with an emergency notice.
The plans appear to be part of follow-up measures by the KIPO to implement its annual work plan for the year, which aims to prepare for an inter-Korean basic agreement in intellectual property rights through consultation with relevant ministries and legal bodies.
To this end, the KIPO also hopes to make the issue of intellectual property a topic of discussion in future high-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang, according to its work plan issued in January this year.
Researchers are asked to analyze “competitiveness and growth potential of North Korean intellectual property rights” in fields including steel, resources, and basic light industry, along with changes in the direction of its intellectual property rights policy.
They are also required to conduct a technical analysis, using indicators including the quality of the patents, their technological influences, and marketability.
Famous trademarks issued by the North or which have an international application number and a geographical indication (GI) should be investigated and analyzed, the KIPO said, examining “popular products distributed in China’s on and offline platforms” such as Taedonggang Beer.
Researchers are also asked to suggest plans for discussing intellectual property rights with Pyongyang, taking into account the possibility of a relaxation of international sanctions, prospects for market reforms in the DPRK, and changes to IP law in the country.
They are also asked to examine how South Korean companies might secure their industrial intellectual rights in the North through inter-Korean cooperation.
Seoul and Pyongyang previously agreed to protect the other’s intellectual property rights in December 2000, in an agreement signed in the aftermath of the first inter-Korean summit.
An annex to the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the North and the South — signed in December 1991 — also included an agreement on the protection of patents, trademark, and copyright.
In its recent proposal, however, the KIPO stressed that the two Koreas have so far failed to “establish substantive cooperation system as a follow-up discussion had not taken place,” explaining that this is why the organization had proposed the project.
“It is necessary to find tasks for cooperation which can be economically beneficial to the two Koreas and feasible.”
The Korea Copyrights Commission (KCC), an affiliate of the ROK Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), also plans to push ahead with a five-month-long research project to seek ways to “activate inter-Korean cultural and artistic exchanges based on copyright.”
The project — opened to bidders on Wednesday and allocated KRW30 million ($25,231) — aims to develop “comprehensive strategies to activate exchanges and cooperation in the field of copyright.”
Another goal is to resolve issues pertaining to copyright that the two Koreas may encounter in the process of cultural and artistic exchange.
“It is necessary to seek solutions in accordance with domestic law or international treaty in order to prevent copyright-related issues in advance,” the KCC said, with the distribution of South Korean literary works in the North being cited as one situation where such issues might arrive.
The special nature of inter-Korean relations should be taken into account, it added, along with the fact that both sides are signatories to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
Taking that into account, the bid continued, it is “necessary to find policy tasks to be implemented including special agreements on copyright and joint consultation body for copyright-based cultural and artistic exchanges.”
Researchers are also asked to consider the “necessity of promoting the establishment of an Inter-Korean Copyright Management Committee (tentative name)… along with the characteristics, role, and plans to establish it.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham