Inside Korea, inside the US, and around the globe, Steptoe lawyers have the experience, knowledge and network to serve our Korean and international clients’ needs. With offices in Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, as well as in London and Brussels, we provide global legal services. Our lawyers have experience with international arbitrations, cross border litigation, international trade and regulatory issues, antitrust competition law, customs, tax, and intellectual property, as well as US governmental relations, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, new investments, joint ventures, and global sourcing and manufacturing throughout Asia. Our dedication to client service has made Steptoe the law firm of choice for many leading Korean, Asian, and US companies, financial institutions, and investors.
Intellectual Property Litigation
Steptoe’s intellectual property lawyers represent a wide range of industries in the US and around the world—including electronics, computer software and hardware, semiconductors, manufacturing, nanotechnology, optics, healthcare, life sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, telecommunications, entertainment, and financial services—providing practical advice and innovative strategies that address all aspects of intellectual property protection and results in commercial solutions to the problems faced in today’s marketplaces. Steptoe is engaged in numerous cases, administrative proceedings, and other forums respecting the protection of virtually the entire gamut of IP rights including patent, trade secret, copyright, trademark, and privacy.
IP litigators at Steptoe know how to try cases to a jury, a judge, or an administrative panel. Steptoe blends its litigation know-how with attorneys who have great experience in the relevant technology, commercial markets, and law—whether it be patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, privacy, constitutional, or a combination of them—to produce winning and efficient trial teams.
Steptoe’s lawyers have tried scores of cases to judgment for Fortune 500 companies, midsize companies, and small, emerging high-tech companies. Some of the cases Steptoe has litigated have been among the most high profile of the last decade such as the Verizon v. Vonage case over VoIP technology, Amazon.com v. barnesandnoble.com "One-Click" business method patent case, and the Priceline.com v. Microsoft “Name your Own Price” business method patent case.
Under Section 337, companies obtain US International Trade Commission (ITC) orders that exclude from the United States imported products that are deemed to compete unfairly with the domestic industry. Most commonly, Section 337 investigations address patent, trademark, and copyright infringement issues, but have also involved antitrust, trade secret, breach of contract, and similar claims. Section 337 investigations are administrative proceedings, but proceed much faster than federal district court cases, often with decisions issued within a year.
In recent years, Steptoe has been ranked consistently number one in international trade by Chambers & Partners, a prominent legal publisher. In a survey of the top ten lawyers in international trade, a majority of the lawyers in the top 10 by Chambers & Partners have consistently been Steptoe partners as well.
Dedicated to advancing our clients’ business interests, Steptoe has one of the largest and most experienced international trade practices in the United States. Many of our lawyers bring to bear experience and insight gained from senior government service with the Department of Commerce and Office of the US Trade Representative, as well as the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Treasury. Our firm has represented both domestic and foreign companies in well over 150 antidumping and countervailing duty cases before the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission. Many of these matters involved appeals to the US Court of International Trade, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, bi-national panels under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and dispute settlement proceedings before the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In an increasingly global business environment, Steptoe offers the full spectrum of international and US litigation capabilities and a demonstrated ability to resolve cross-border disputes to the advantage of our clients. We handle a wide range of US and international matters, including a wide variety of contractual, business tort and commercial litigation, securities litigation, litigation involving derivative financial instruments, financial frauds and real estate litigation, technology, energy, trade and investment disputes, corporate and partnership disputes, banking, defamation, insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence issues, and cross-border tracing of assets and enforcement of awards and judgments. When clients find themselves embroiled in complex, high-stakes matters that cross national boundaries, Steptoe brings together its recognized strengths in international law and litigation to attain successful results. Furthermore, we have handled numerous cross-border litigation cases where parallel or collateral arbitration proceedings are active or impending.
Steptoe has extensive experience in international commercial arbitration. While the details of the matters we have handled are confidential, our litigators have handled scores of international arbitrations before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), the American Arbitration Association (AAA), Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and many other arbitral institutions and facilities, as well as ad hoc arbitrations. Our litigators have experience in arbitrations involving specialized fields such as construction, energy, telecommunications, intellectual property, and high technology; representing private companies, lending and investing institutions, sovereigns, and government-owned entities in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean; and conducting arbitrations in several languages.
Steptoe’s international tax lawyers combine extraordinary experience with extraordinary responsiveness. They counsel, structure, negotiate, document, implement, advocate and litigate, identifying opportunities and solving problems ranging from the ordinary to multi-billion dollar industry-wide matters, as well as having concluded Competent Authority Agreements between governments.
US Governmental Relations
International companies operating in the United States face complicated legal, regulatory, and political issues that are front and center before Congress and the regulatory agencies. Steptoe, as one of the top Washington lobbying and regulatory firms, is uniquely qualified to assist companies in promoting—and, perhaps just as importantly—defending their interests before Congress and the federal governmental entities. Steptoe’s US governmental relations team consists of accomplished professionals with decades of experience working on congressional and regulatory matters. We combine substantive expertise with political and advocacy skills that are widely recognized throughout Washington. We have former government officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations and our lobbyists are respected by both parties for their balanced and bi-partisan approach to issues and by clients who acknowledged having received the best political and policy advice.
Antitrust Competition Law
Steptoe provides a full range of advice and assistance in US antitrust and EU competition law matters. We are very active in helping companies defend US, EU, and multi-jurisdictional cartel matters, handling all aspects, including US grand juries, civil and criminal investigations in the EU, and criminal trials. We have represented US, European, and Asian clients in such international cartel matters. Cartel cases almost always lead to massive civil lawsuits in the US seeking treble damages, which our experienced litigators handle in conjunction with the criminal matters. In addition, we regularly advise on the antitrust and competition law implications of proposed corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances. Many such transactions involve coordinating merger reviews and related governmental investigations in the US, EU and various Asian jurisdictions, including Korea, Japan, and China, where we work with local experts. Finally, as part of our antitrust counseling practice, we have helped several multilateral corporations establish sound antitrust compliance programs that take into account the bewildering array of global antitrust and competition law obligations.
We regularly advise Fortune 500 companies and non-US entities on how to secure their international trade objectives when shipments are presented for review by US Customs agents. This includes analysis of all the matters that make up an import or export declaration including valuation, classification, country of origin, marking and labeling, qualification for NAFTA or other free trade program, import bond, and foreign trade zone issues. We help clients respond to US Customs notices of action and enforcement, (including forfeiture cases), conduct internal compliance reviews, and pursue Customs rulings and advisory opinions.
Cross-Border Investments, Acquisitions and Securities
US investments, acquisitions and joint ventures by Korean and Asian conglomerates are handled by experienced international lawyers who understand the US-Korea cross-border context, complexities, and implications. The new investments, acquisitions and joint ventures often involve cross-border technology transfers, licensing arrangements and IP protection and enforcement advice. These transactions range from multiple-party complex acquisitions, mergers, swaps, split-ups, and other dispositions. Steptoe handles all regulatory compliance elements of a merger and acquisition required under securities, antitrust, FCPA, export controls, customs and national security laws. In addition, Steptoe ensures the establishment or the transfer of all business operations for a new investment, acquisition or joint venture. These operational matters include product procurement, sales, financings, real estate purchases or leases, employment, and immigration matters.
Steptoe conducts public and private offerings of equity, debt, and derivative securities aggregating billions of dollars in recent years in New York and London.
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering Compliance
We have a long history of counseling clients on the scope, meaning, and administration of the legal requirements affecting international business transactions. Over the years, Steptoe has counseled many US corporations and their foreign affiliates on the scope, meaning, and application of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and international anti-corruption restrictions and requirements, involving a wide spectrum of corporate transactions, joint ventures, teaming arrangements, and other business affiliations. We are often asked to analyze contracts, corporate affiliations, and business arrangements to protect against charges of illicit payments and to maintain adequate books and records that fairly reflect the use of corporate funds.
Steptoe provides legal advice on all aspects of anti-money laundering (AML) rules and regulations, both in the compliance counseling and enforcement contexts. AML requirements, counter-terrorist financing regimes, know-your-customer (KYC) rules, and asset blocking and reporting requirements are increasingly complicated and comprehensive. Our lawyers are well-prepared to confront enforcement problems, to evaluate our clients’ existing AML policies and procedures, and to assist our clients to set up and implement new programs, incorporating best practices that meet with regulatory approval.
The US government administers multiple export control programs intended to monitor and regulate the transfer of goods, technology, services, and information to foreign nationals or destinations. Steptoe attorneys handle all export requirements for transfers of dual-use items, controlled primarily under the Export Administration Regulations administered by the Commerce Department, and “defense articles and services,” controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations administered by the State Department. We also assist companies with economic sanctions administered by the Treasury Department. Our firm regularly assists non-US companies with these requirements, as they apply to all US origin items and content even if located abroad and in the possession of foreign persons and entities. We also assist non-US companies involved in strategic relationships with US partners, that have US affiliates, or that send their non-US citizen personnel to the United States—each of these raising export control compliance issues.
Steptoe’s immigration lawyers focus on three areas: compliance with homeland security rules, regulations, and mandated procedures; temporary and permanent immigration to the United States; and employment-related compliance issues. We help clients comply with the numerous immigration statutes and regulations that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State. We handle immigration counseling and litigation issues relating to the cross-border movement of executives, managers, and technical personnel; special immigrants such as investors, treaty traders, religious workers, aliens of extraordinary ability, and outstanding researchers; and applications for work authorization, nonimmigrant visas, permanent residency, naturalization, political asylum, and foreign adoptions.
- Defended a major Korean chemical company in a series of US and EU investigations of potential cartel activities involving several different products sold internationally. Working closely with the client, we developed innovative defensive arguments. The client has since been dropped from two of these investigations.
- Representing Samsung Electronics, Inc. in a patent infringement case related to the use and manufacture of integrated circuits using embedded flash memory.
- Assisted the Dispute Settlement Division of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) on various trade policy, trade remedies and WTO issues.
- Represented the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) formerly Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) on the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the largest FTA since NAFTA. Steptoe helped MKE formulate positions and draft proposed negotiating text on a wide array of issues, including tariff reductions, textiles, trade remedies, market access, investments, Jones Act, government procurement, autos, and electronic commerce.
- Advised on political strategy and governmental relations to promote and ratify the KORUS FTA, particularly with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- Represented MKE on the Korea-EU FTA on nontariff barriers, bilateral investment treaties with EU countries, EC’s zeroing practice, trade remedies, TBT Chapter and REACH, CO2 Emissions, tariff concessions.
- Represented two US subsidiaries of Hyundai Mobis in the Chrysler bankruptcy case filed in the SDNY before Judge Gonzalez. We obtained excellent outcomes for both US subsidiaries, both of which were unsecured trade creditors of Chrysler.
- Represented Hyundai Mobis in negotiations of a supply agreement with Chrysler valued at over $5.5 billion for the assembly of completed chassis modulars. The assembly plant is in Toledo, Ohio, and is a part of Chrysler's $2 billion supplier park for the Jeep Wrangler. The project required a ground lease, a plant construction, a long-term supply agreement, a prospective purchase and sale of the plant, equipment container financings and logistics contracts.
- Advised Korean Investment Corporation on portfolio investments.
- Represented Financial Supervisory Commission, KITA, and Hyundai Merchant Marine on commercial and corporate transactions.
- Handled commercial loans for Korean financial institutions.
- Negotiated a Korean joint venture for a US portable fuel cell company.
- Conducted due diligence investigations of proposed Korean joint venture partners and third-party business relationships for US companies.
- Advised a multinational media and entertainment entity on restructuring of operations and facilities in Korea and Asia.
- Structured acquisitions of Pacific Rim businesses for financial institutions.
- Advised Korean financial regulators, MOFE and KDIC, on the reorganization of the Korean credit insurance sector, as well US and Korean entities on Korean restructuring issues.
- Advised multinational Korean corporations in structuring their US investments, including form of entity issues and favorable tax treaty provisions.
- Successfully defended Sukwon Industrial Corp. against a non-payment claim brought by an Abu Dhabi sub-contractor in large water purification plant in U.A.E. In the ICC arbitration in London, Sukwon prevailed after two-day arbitration and won on counterclaim for expenses incurred in make-up work costs.
- Obtained a large "success fee" from a Singapore financial institution that refused to pay a fee to a large Korean law firm as provided in law firm's retainer agreement. The matter settled favorably just before arbitration was to be conducted in Hong Kong.
- Successfully defended oil filter manufacturers, Guangdong Hyundai Mobis Co. and Young Dong Industrial Corp., against US distributor's claim of defective filters and $40MM in losses. After a two-week trial in Federal Court in the Southern District of New York, the jury returned a complete defense verdict and awarded the defendants $2.125MM on a counterclaim for non-payment of goods.
- Successfully defended HKD International Corp. in Federal Court in Missouri. HKD is the world's largest manufacturer of recreational tents and faced a claim by second largest manufacturer that it raided its business, employees and stole proprietary information in establishing a US office with key employees from the competitor. The plaintiffs abandoned the case without any settlement payment after several months of aggressive defense by Steptoe.
- Successfully defended the former Chairman and CEO of Gravity Co., Ltd., against securities fraud, embezzlement and other claims in $150MM securities class action lawsuit. Steptoe attorneys resolved SEC and US Attorney investigations without any charges, and settled class action with $5M payment after non-binding mediation before JAMS.
- Represented the Republic of Korea and three of the country’s financial agencies in investor disputes with a large investment bank over failed derivative transactions.
- Represented Housing & Commercial Bank, Daehan Investment Trust Company, and Korea Life Insurance Co., Ltd., in separate disputes involving claims exceeding $100 million.
- Successfully defended a US energy company and its Korean affiliate in a US government investigation of trading with North Korea.
- Advising a major US company on the implications of Korean high-profile anti-bribery and anti-money laundering investigations for their Korean consulting relationships, and on claims arising out of those relationships.
- Assisted a defense contractor with offset obligations in Korea and worked closely with major Korean law firm to a successful conclusion.
- Over the years, Steptoe has represented Korean companies in trade cases in the United States. They include:
- Nitrile Rubber from Korea
- Ball Bearings and Parts from Korea
- Sweaters of Manmade Fiber from Korea
- Color Television Receivers from Korea
- Portland Hydraulic Cement and Cement Clinker from Korea
- Photo Albums and Photo Album Filler Pages from Korea
- Bicycles from Korea
- Steel Wire Nails from Korea
- Hand-Operated Plastic Pistol Grip-Type Liquid Sprayers from Korea