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Seoul promotes greater co-operation in defence R&D

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is updating rules related to military technology intellectual property (IP) to enable local institutions to share rights on key, emerging capabilities.

The move is consistent with legislation – the Defense Science and Technology Innovation Promotion Act – that came into force in early April aiming to restructure South Korea’s defence research and development (R&D) ecosystem.

DAPA said on 5 May that the newly launched ‘IP rights management guidelines’ and an associated policy on patents is intended to allow research agencies, academia, and industry to “jointly own and use” military technology IP.

DAPA said that under previous rules IP in military technologies that was developed for national programmes was owned mainly by its subsidiary organisation, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), in the interests of national security.

Under the new rules, IP ownership rights will be relaxed to allow organisations such as government research institutes, universities, and companies to jointly hold IP rights alongside the ADD.

DAPA said the revision addresses an “institutional weakness” in the IP rights system whereby “private companies that created IP could not have ownership of the IP”. The rule change, it added, will encourage “more private-sector companies to participate in defence R&D”.

DAPA said the new rules reflect the “cost and risks” of developing IP in military technologies. Various different percentages of ownership of IP are outlined, providing companies with opportunities to own between 10% and 50% of related IP, with the ADD owning the remainder.

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