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Technology · Media & Telecom

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC’s Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT) practice group, formed in 1988, was the first Korean law firm team to focus on telecom infrastructure, information technology and broadcast regulation. Our practice has expanded rapidly with the evolution in telecom and connectivity over the past 20 years. That evolution saw a proliferation of laws governing information flows in Korea, making it a highly regulated jurisdiction in this regard. Throughout, the BKL team has been at the leading edge of Korean legal services, in every relevant area of industry, financial and data privacy regulation.

The TMT practice group comprises some 50 professionals. A 20-lawyer core team specializes in telecom, online services and media, with focal areas including connectivity rules and data security. Added regulatory expertise is supplied by a dedicated team of former government and industry professionals. A large supporting corps of intellectual property experts focus on media-centered businesses, including technology transfer and licensing issues, creative rights and trade secrets. And the Firm offers first-rank expertise in every adjacent practice area, including corporate, fair competition and government relations, along with a top litigation practice.

We serve a wide spectrum of Korean and foreign-headquartered businesses, ranging from multinationals and local market leaders – major telecoms, broadcasters, financial institutions, online/app service providers – to mid-size innovators and fast-growing startups. The practice group delivers, and our expertise builds on, intensive regulatory and transactional advice for a large cross-section of the media, online and app-driven space in Korea. Recent focal points include FinTech, location information based services, “internet of things”, and net neutrality issues, to name a few areas.

Our TMT team is unsurpassed in regulatory know-how. Commonly, telecom and broadcast enterprises, as well as online and smartphone based services, must navigate significant license or registration requirements in Korea. Key agencies include the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning, Korea Communications Commission (KCC), and Financial Services Commission. In testament to BKL’s standards, our TMT team is consulted by regulators themselves, for policy comment and issues of first impression. BKL has guided hundreds of clients through the requisites – often including technical and organizational standards – of the regulatory process.

Technology
Our technology work serves many of the most innovative device makers and service providers in the world. For regulatory advice and transactional guidance, as well as top-tier litigation support, the TMT group is turned to by major smartphone and wireless appliance makers, and leading edge technology developers such as “connected car” makers. We have assisted financial institutions, Big Data firms, software developers and online and app service providers, on issues ranging from facility and data security, to user terms and business partner contracts.

Among work highlights in recent years, our team has been closely involved in the evolution of FinTech in Korea, advising on a succession of key advances in the sector. In deal work, BKL advised a highly successful app developer (which we had assisted from its VC investment stage) in its merger with a major portal – the largest business combination ever in the Korean online sector. The TMT group has guided leading technology firms in navigating key license requirements for connected services. In the technology licensing arena, the TMT team together with our fair competition group has assisted smartphone makers in the context of a watershed antitrust investigation into licensing terms of a core technology source. Our TMT experts have been active in crisis management as well, advising online service clients in response to major data breach incidents in recent years.

Media
BKL’s track record in broadcast media is unsurpassed. The TMT group has been advisor to a “Big 3” TV broadcast network in Korea for over 20 years, and has assisted many broadcast companies and multiple system operators, in operating within the extensive range of regulation in this sector. Inter-system conflicts (among terrestrial, cable, satellite, IPTV), and broadcast and retransmission constraints, frequently give rise to issues tackled by our group. With a robust understanding of the business environment and commercial norms, the BKL team has also handled a large volume of transactional work in this sector, ranging from negotiation of inter-operator fees to joint ventures for news, sports, entertainment and home-shopping channels. The TMT group offers comprehensive expertise across the range of transactional tasks – program licensing, channel distribution, advertising sale, to name a few –, and has gone on to help clients coordinate outbound broadcast-sector investments in the Asia region, including China.

Telecom
The TMT group is expert in every aspect of telecom regulation in Korea, having long advised Korea Telecom and other leading telecom infrastructure companies, together with many telecom-based service providers. The team has commonly handled a wide span of issues arising in the regulatory framework, including operating and investment restrictions, licensing hurdles and user protection rules, under the Telecommunications Business Act, Telecom Networks Act and related regulations. In addition to traditional telecom issues such as spectrum allocation and facility compliance, in recent years the focal areas of our practice have included the expansion in LTE service, 5G service, cloud computing, subsea cable investment, and other frontier infrastructure projects. With support of BKL’s fair competition group, the TMT team has handled major controversies over proposed business combinations. In the transactional sphere, BKL is widely recognized for its leading part in telecom sector M&A deal work over the past 20 years.
Major Cases
    Technology

    • Advised a Korean word processing software maker on open source compliance including response to infringement litigation (2017).

    • Advised European “internet of things” network builder on Korean market entry (2017).

    • Advised Japanese electronics conglomerate on a satellite communication service (2017).

    • For major multinational app service provider, advised on regulatory requirements for Korea launch, including registration, user terms, contracts (2016~2017).

    • For the “Kakao Bank” consortium, assisted in obtaining regulatory clearance for setup of an online-only bank (2016~2017).

    • For a leading electric vehicle (and connected car) maker, assisted with Korea market entry, including required location information business license (2015~2017).

    • For several smartphone manufacturers, advised in connection with a Fair Trade Commission investigation into Qualcomm core technology licensing practices (2015~2017).

    • Advised a major IT company on its planned online P2P loan business (2015~2017).

    • Advised Korean online service provider in cross-border dispute over regulatory restriction on export of map data (2016).

    • Advised major US online entertainment vendor on Korea launch (2016).

    • For a multinational social media networking service, advised on users terms, data privacy-related consents and other regulatory compliance issues (2015~2016).

    • For the Korea branch of a China online payment service, advised on issues of withholdings from online payment fees, and advanced technical features (2015).

    • For securities firms, payments service providers and a financial clearing institute, advised on obligations pursuant to Electronic Financial Transactions Act (2015).

    • Advised Kakao Corp. in its merger with Daum Communications (2014) – largest Korean online sector M&A deal ever.



    Media

    • Led litigation for consortium of multiple system operators, in dispute over retransmission fees to terrestrial broadcast networks (2016~2017).

    • For a major satellite TV broadcaster, advised in negotiation of retransmission frees for terrestrial broadcast (2017).

    • Advised a US-headquartered broadcasting network in expansion in children’s program channels, including buyout and regulatory clearance for two channels (2015).

    • For a leading IPTV company, negotiated retransmission fees with terrestrial broadcasting companies (2015)

    • Advised Korean Cable TV Association on implementation rules for broadcast package products (2014-2015).

    • Advised SBS Broadcasting Group on acquisition of sports programming broadcast rights (2013~2014); variety of regulatory questions pertaining to programming, advertising and local broadcast system (2013~2016); joint venture (with US headquartered partner) for music channel (2011~2012).



    Telecom

    • Advised an India-headquartered telecom network provider on Korean market entry (2017).

    • Assisted an Australian telecom in a Korean telecom sector acquisition (2017).

    • Advised several communications service providers, including LTE and messaging app providers, in response to KCC advertising and messaging restrictions (2017).

    • Advised KTSAT on launch of a satellite service to oceangoing vessels (2017).

    • For a major Korean online services group, advised on response to user information hacking incident, including response to KCC inquiry and sanctions (2016~2017).

    • Advised a major Korean telecom in a lawsuit based on net neutrality (2016~2017).

    • For a Korean telecom, advised on data breach involving over 8 million users (2015~2017).

    • For a major Korean telecom, advised on opposition to telecom sector business combination (between another telecom and a cable TV network) (2016).

    • For a US based online video chat service, advised on telecom license requirements (2016).

Main Contact
Yangho OH
T.82.2.3404.0128
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Kwang Hyun RYOO
T.82.2.3404.0150
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Sangjik LEE
T.82.2.3404.0650
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