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BKL partners (from left) Min In-gi, Lee Youn-nam, Lee Hoo-dong and Cho Byung-kyu

Korean firm Bae, Kim & Lee, which had previously advised the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup organising committees, was chosen to advise the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) as well. John Kang speaks to the firm’s intellectual property team about its “rare opportunity.”

 

What kind of work does BKL do for the Games?

BKL advises POCOG in connection with its preparation for various aspects of the Games, including, but not limited to, legislation for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the licensing of the intellectual property held by IOC and POCOG, brand protection, and various other marketing and partnership agreements entered into with the corporate sponsors.

As is the case with any project involving multiple parties, having to work out the differences among various interested parties from a legal standpoint adds an interesting and challenging layer to our work.

POCOG itself as an organization is comprised of secondees from various government agencies, namely the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, as well as the secondees from several domestic corporations acting as corporate sponsors for the Games, all of which contribute to setting up a unique working environment.

On a day-to-day basis, we work in a truly international setting which involves counselling and negotiating complex legal issues affecting various parties representing different cultural backgrounds and commercial interests, which is a rare opportunity in Korea.

How many BKL lawyers are involved in the project?

There are between 12 and 13 BKL lawyers dedicated to this project, and other members of the firm are also assigned to the project based on the area of law that is relevant to each assignment.

BKL members working on the project are primarily comprised of the members from our IP and corporate practice groups. Our colleagues from the other teams, including tax, TMT, construction and legislation, are frequently called upon to advise on their relevant fields of expertise.

There are currently three BKL lawyers on secondment with POCOG. Each secondment lasts for anywhere from 6 months to a year, and while such arrangement does require certain adjustments to our day-to-day operations (in terms of work assignments to associates), we have been successfully operating our practices in this environment for over three years now.

Will the firm continue to advise on major international sporting events?

We will certainly continue to build upon our experience gained from advising POCOG. Through our legal services, we hope to contribute to the promotion of the sports industry and the growth of international sporting events. BKL has received great feedback from both POCOG and IOC for our work in connection with the Games. For example, IOC has praised BKL for our high-quality legal services and expertise in comparison to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

 

To contact the writer, please email john.kang@tr.com.