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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.
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