Name: John Kim
Position: Partner, Lee & Ko (Seoul, Korea)
What was your first-ever job? (prior to becoming a lawyer)?
I helped my parents in the family business in Queens, N.Y.
Where did you study? Cornell University, Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (Class of 1992) and American University, Washington College of Law (Class of 1997)
Where did you train? As a licensed U.S. patent attorney in the Washington, DC area and in Seoul, Korea.
Have you lived or worked outside your home jurisdiction? What did you learn from it? Aside from my current position as a partner specializing in Intellectual Property (“IP”) litigation and counselling at Lee & Ko, I experienced two expatriate tours at Samsung Electronics in Seoul, Korea. From 2004-2008, I worked at Samsung as a senior IP litigation counsel and I returned to Samsung from 2009-2011 as assistant general counsel of IP.
When did you become partner? I first became a partner at Quinn Emanuel in 2008 and joined Lee & Ko as a partner in 2011.
What deal/case in your career stands out the most and why? I learned the most about managing the challenges of bet-the-company patent infringement litigation on a world-wide scale from the Ericsson v. Samsung matters in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Eastern District of Texas.
What have been your recent deals? We currently have separate teams at Lee & Ko representing Samsung and Google on the Korean portion of the smartphone patent wars against Apple. We also represent a Korean textile manufacturer regarding the settlement and appellate issues in connection with a nine-figure jury verdict involving trade secret misappropriation issues.
What is the biggest challenge facing your market at the moment? The biggest challenge and, simultaneously, the greatest opportunity is the opening of the Korean legal market to law firms from the United States, United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe.
What has been the most significant development in your sector in recent years? (this can be legal/technical)? The accelerated maturation of the patent auction market culminating in the recent sale of a tranche of Nortel patents for $4.5 Billion (£2.8 Billion).
If you hadn’t been a lawyer, what would you have been? Although I was also trained as an engineer, I would have probably worked with children in a teaching or coaching capacity.
Which country do you travel to most frequently and which country do you like the best? I travel back to the United States from Korea about once a month. Because I love both countries for different reasons, my wife and I would like to keep a home base in both regions for the foreseeable future so that our three sons will grow up knowing both cultures that form their identity.
What is your favourite book? The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
What is your favourite restaurant? In both my home countries, I enjoy finding smaller places that serve great seafood. In Korea, that’s Sausalito Lobster in Insa-dong and in the United States, it’s the Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island in Florida.