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Lee & Ko

HANJIN BUILDING, 63 NAMDAEMUN-RO, JUNG-GU, SEOUL 04532, SOUTH KOREA
Tel:
Work +82 2 772 4000
Fax:
Fax +82 2 772 4001
Email:
Web:
www.leeko.com
Seoul, Seoul

South Korea

International arbitration
International arbitration - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko has strengthened its international arbitration practice with the recruitment of Hyunsoo Joo from Kim & Chang, Charles Peterson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and distinguished law professor Yeonsoo Yun. The ‘value for money’ team is lauded for ‘approaching the core of the problem quickly and accurately’ with expertise in construction, shipping and life sciences disputes. Robert Wachter and Jae Hwan Kim are defending an insurer in a complex dispute arising from retubing work at a nuclear power plant. The team is also instructed in several highly technical cross-border disputes concerning construction and engineering projects and military procurement. Sungwoo Lim knows ‘how to lead and advise the clients to get to the goal’, David Kim is noted for his ‘great advocacy skills and strong logic’, while Hyunyang Koo has ‘great communication and investigation skills’. Sunyoung Kim focuses on corporate transactions and regularly acts alongside Wachter.

Leading individuals

Robert Wachter - Lee & Ko

Sungwoo Lim - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Sunyoung Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Antitrust and competition

Antitrust and competition – Local firms
Antitrust and competition – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko's ‘top of the market’ antitrust practice is ‘well connected to the regulators and provides high-quality, efficient and practical advice top to bottom’. The practice includes a team of Korea and US experienced  economists, and is highly active across the whole spectrum of antitrust work, notably in unfair trade practices, cartels and merger control. Hwan Jeong leads the team; he and Jeong-Ho Sun successfully obtained an unconditional merger clearance for OCI from regulators in Taiwan and China. Acclaimed competition law specialist and ‘talented advocate’ Min-Ho Lee is highly experienced in KFTC practices and is recommended for contentious litigation; he and Pyoung Keun Song are representing LG Electronics in a dispute over a misleading advertisement case against Dyson. In other key matters, Lee and Suruyn Kim, a specialist in cartel investigations and merger reviews, secured an unconditional clearance from the KFTC regarding Aramco Overseas Holdings acquisition of 50% shares in Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Corporation. Managing partner Yong Seok Ahn is ‘one of the best antitrust lawyers in Korea’; he successfully persuaded the US Department of Justice to drop its investigation for collusion against Mando. In other matters, Ahn and Kee Won Shin acted for Korean Air during joint venture negotiations and continue to oversee the global regulatory approval process. The team is also advising Broadcom in relation to merger filings and clearance in relation to its $117bn bid to acquire Qualcomm.

Leading individuals

Hwan Jeong - Lee & Ko

Min-Ho Lee - Lee & Ko

Yong Seok Ahn - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Suruyn Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Banking and finance

Banking and finance – Local firms
Banking and finance – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s ‘vast pool of experienced professionals’ continue to dominate the banking and finance sector space and is praised for ‘its dedication to maintaining long-standing relationships and delivering the full range of its capabilities, knowledge and resources in a timely manner’. This substantial team has strong capabilities across all banking and finance-related matters, particularly within project finance and acquisitions. Dong Eun Kim and Hun Ko advised both the borrower, Second Beltway, and several banks such as Kookmin Bank as lenders on the $616m financing structuring arrangement for the Icheon-Osan Express Way Private Participation Project. Yun Jeong Seo leads on several ship finance transactions. Other noted figures include Yeo Kyoon Yoon, Helen Sohn and Tom Shin.

Leading individuals

Yeo Kyoon Yoon - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Capital markets

Capital markets – Local firms
Capital markets – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko remains highly active on debt capital markets work advising blue-chip clients on their issuances or subscriptions on a wide range of bonds, for example on Korea National Oil Corporation's $285m 3% notes due 2022. It also retains strong capabilities in IPOs, derivatives, disputes and regulatory matters. Securities and derivatives expert Hyunjoo Oh and Seung-A Hyun assisted Korea Midland Power with the establishment of a €3bn MTN programme and issuance of €40m 1.7% notes due 2037. IPO leading figure Wonsik Choo and Jun Woo Cho  advised SD Bio-Tech and U-Bio Logics on their successful IPOs on the Korean Exchange. Je Won Lee focuses on private equity funds and Geen Kim specialises in financial investment products and compliance; they and Ji Young Lee are recommended for collective investment schemes. Wonkyu Han leads the practice which has been joined by partners Cheekwan Kim from Clifford Chance and former judge Jiwoong Lim.

Leading individuals

Hyunjoo Oh - Lee & Ko

Wonsik Choo - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Corporate and M&A

Corporate and M&A – Local firms
Corporate and M&A – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s ‘experienced, dedicated and client-focused’ team, led by Hyun Tae Kim, is involved in sizeable transactions in the pharmaceutical, financial services, transportation and technology sectors. Sang Gon Kim and Ho Joon Moon advised LS Group in the transfer of LS Automotive business to a joint venture established by KKR.  As an example of outbound transaction work, Moon and Ki Wook Kang advised LG Hausys in its purchase of 50.1% of a Slovakian automobile parts manufacturer. Also of note is Hyeong Gun Lee, who is an expert in complex cross-border deals; Yongjoon Yoon is particularly adept in strategic deal structuring and negotiation; Daehoon Koo and Kyung-Chun Kim are ‘quickly developing an outstanding reputation’.

Leading individuals

Ho Joon Moon - Lee & Ko

Hyeong Gun Lee - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Dae Hoon Koo - Lee & Ko

Kyung Chun Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution – Local firms
Dispute resolution – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

As one of the largest dispute practices in Korea, Lee & Ko regularly leads counsel in employment, media, tax, competition and intellectual property litigation. In significant recent case, Won Seok Ko, Yong Sup Kim and Heon Myung Jeong obtained a positive outcome for LG Hausys in a patent dispute relating to optically clear adhesives. In relation to noteworthy labour disputes, Seong Won Chang, Hyun Soo Park and Won Jin Jung successfully represented Lotte Shopping in a decision which is expected to remain as a precedent for employers concerning the reinstatement of employees following childcare leave. Seon Tae Kim is active in disputes concerning administrative, false advertising, and construction issues. The practice also includes a number of partners with sector-specific litigation experience, namely, Chan Ik Jang in construction, Wan Shik Lee in insolvency, Young Cheol Chi for constitutional matters and Jeong Kyoo Han for banking-related disputes. Jung Hyun Lee and Jae Heon Park are also recommended for insolvency and commercial disputes.

Leading individuals

Seong Won Chang - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Jae Heon Park - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Insurance

Insurance – Local firms
Insurance – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s multi-disciplined team assists leading Korean and international insurers, reinsurers, agents and brokers across the full spectrum of insurance matters. The ‘very strong team’ is jointly led by Jin Hong Kwon and John Jung Kyum Kim. Jin Young Jung, Jae Hwan Kim and Chongsu Seo are ‘excellent lawyers with great client care skills and a thorough understanding of insurance work’. In a recent highlight, H Kim and Seo are acting for a group of insurers and reinsurers in the leading case concerning the scope of coverage for cyber attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges. Sae Um Kim is recommended for disputes, policy reviews and regulatory advice with cross-border elements for life, mobile phone, and trade insurance.

Leading individuals

Jin Young Jung - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Sae Um Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Intellectual property

Intellectual property – Local firms
Intellectual property – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s team of experienced patent attorneys and IP specialists have an impressive track record representing a myriad of patent owners in the electronic, pharmaceutical, mechanical and telecoms sectors in domestic and cross-border litigation. The team’s expertise in trade mark enforcement is demonstrated by Choong Jin Oh, Sun Chang and Vera Eun Woo Lee successfully representing Toms Shoes in an action against Hana INT for trade mark infringement and dealing in counterfeit goods. In licensing and franchising work, Chang is advising Marriott International on all aspects of its business in Korea. Practice co-heads Young Mo Kwon and Un Ho Kim are the names to note for patent infringement and enforcement disputes. Jae Hoon Kim and Choong Jin Oh are also names to note for infringement work. Other key figures for litigation include Seong-Ki Kim, who handles disputes involving technologies of polymorphisms and patent prosecution, while Hyeon Gil Ryoo and Il Hee Bahn have a strong track-record in trademark prosecution, enforcement and portfolio management. Hui Jin Yang counsels clients in the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and chemical industries.

Leading individuals

Choong Jin Oh - Lee & Ko

Young Mo Kwon - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Hui Jin Yang - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Labour and employment

Labour and employment – Local firms
Labour and employment – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko handles significant labour and employment disputes for clients including Korean Air, General Motors Korea and Lotte Shopping. Sang Hoon Lee is noted for his ‘knowledge, experience and client-friendliness’; he assisted Cargill Agri Purina with internal investigations following serious allegations brought by its employees, and also advised Jimmy Choo on HR-related matters related to the opening up of its business in Korea. Chang Soo Jin co-heads the practice alongside Lee and is another well-respected figure; he and Hyun Seok Song assisted SK Telecom in relation to the labour law framework and employee status of fixed-term employees specifically hired to complete an installation project at Incheon International Airport. Jae-Hoon Choi and Yong-Moon Kim are recommended for employment agreements,  collective labor relationships and major corporate restructuring.

Leading individuals

Chang-Soo Jin - Lee & Ko

Sang Hoon Lee - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Jae-Hoon Choi - Lee & Ko

Yong-Moon Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Projects and energy

Projects and energy – Local firms
Projects and energy – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko's expertise spans the full spectrum of projects and energy work, with notable expertise in project financing, outbound transactions and litigation. The full-service practice is co-headed by Dong Eun Kim, who is highly experienced in transactions in the construction and energy space, and Tom Shim. Supported by a cross-disciplinary team, Shim and In Soo Kim advised Samsung Life Insurance on its investment in the Gaziantep Integrated Health Campus. In another prominent mandate, Hun Ko assisted Seoul Beltway and its sponsors in executing the amended concession agreement and negotiating with new lenders for a facility agreement totalling $2.4bn. In inbound transactional work, Kwang Yul Kim and Dae Hong Kim are assisting GS Retail Consortium in all matters connected to the development of a multi-purpose complex. Hyunsu Kim is also recommended for infrastructure, PPP and project finance matters. Charles Peterson, former head of international energy at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, joined the group in March 2018.

Leading individuals

Hun Ko - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Hyunsu Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Real estate

Real estate – Local firms
Real estate – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko draws on its multi-disciplinary expertise to act in inbound and outbound real estate transactions; the practice is active in commercial development, overseas projects, REIT, and trust and real estate litigation. The sizeable team is jointly led by Chan Ik Jang, Jin Wook Yang and Jung Hwan Lee. Joong Hoon Kwak and Eun Young Shin represented Kookmin Bank, the sellers, in the $241m sale of the KB Myeongdong Office Building. In outbound transactions, Lee acted for Hyundai Investment in the acquisition of a commercial building in Belgium. Dong Eun Kim and Dong Seok Woo are also highly recommended. Associate Jee In Kim frequently assists in real estate acquisitions and financing as well as domestic and overseas investment.

Leading individuals

Jin Wook Yang - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Jee In Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Regulatory: compliance and investigations

Regulatory: compliance and investigations – Local firms
Regulatory: compliance and investigations – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

As ‘one of the top law firms’, Lee & Ko attracts praise for its wide-ranging expertise in compliance and white-collar criminal investigations, as well as for its ‘immediate and value-added advice’. The practice also maintains a digital forensic team, ensuring client confidentiality and a quick turnaround of results – an aspect very much valued by its clients. Taek Rim Oh is ‘one of the best cross-border attorneys in Korea’, according to one client. Tae-Ki Ghil, Chan-Youp Song, Jae-Deog Bae and Joon Kim advised McDonald's in relation to criminal complaints filed by consumers claiming to have contracted hemolytic-uremic syndrome from hamburgers. Yong-Seok Park, Song and Tae Yop Lee are defending Samsung Display against a criminal complaint brought by LG Display over alleged trade secret misappropriation. Other names to note are Jin So, Sedong Min, Yeonsoo Yun and Yuseok Kim.

Leading individuals

Tae Yop Lee - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Shipping

Shipping – Local firms
Shipping – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko expertly handles traditional shipping disputes, while also maintaining strong capabilities in insolvency, ship finance, logistics and ship and aviation regulatory matters. The practice is able to draw on its multi-disciplinary expertise to represent clients such as Daejoo KC in litigation concerning aviation regulations. On the non-contentious side, Byung Tak Hwang and Elayne Heeseung Sung are active in ship finance, advising lenders on complex multi-jurisdictional transactions; Woo Young Jung, Yun-Jeong Suh and Yun Jeong Seo are also names to note. For disputes, Jin-Young Jung is a well regarded figure; he and Yang Ho Yoon are defending Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance in a leading maritime insurance case, and he is also acting for Pantos Co in a complex cargo dispute.

Leading individuals

Byung Tak Hwang - Lee & Ko

Jin Young Jung - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Yang Ho Yoon - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: TMT

TMT – Local firms
TMT – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s TMT group has a strong reputation acting for traditional media and telecoms clients and a growing speciality advising on fintech and cryptocurrencies. Practice head Soon-Yub Kwon’s expertise spans commercial transactions, regulatory and legislative matters. Kwang Bae Park is praised for his ‘flexibility, client friendliness and experience’; he advised Kyobo Life Insurance on a new service based on blockchain technology. M&A specialist Jubong Jang and Park have advised Emart on various legal issues related to the transfer of assets by an online shopping mall. Hyun Jung Kim is recommended for complex regulatory and licensing matters. Regulatory expert Hwan Kyoung Ko assisted the CJ Group with the establishment of a big data analysis platform.

Leading individuals

Kwang Bae Park - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Hyun Jun Kim - Lee & Ko

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South Korea: Tax

Tax – Local firms
Tax – Local firms - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko’s ‘top of the market’ practice covers the full spectrum of tax-related matters including inbound and outbound tax planning, audit, customs and dispute resolution. The team, co-headed by Jay Shim and Myung Sub Kim, has significantly strengthened its capabilities with the recruitment of 14 lawyers. Highlights include Shim, Ok Hyun Ma, Kyung Tae Kim and Hoan Ku Lee represented MasterCard in a case relating to assessment fees in cross-border transactions. Elsewhere, Kim and Byeong Jun Son acted for SK Telecom in VAT litigation. Young Gee Park specialises in customs and internal investigations, while Young Uk Park focuses on corporate tax matters. Other names to note are Tae-Gyung Kim, Jangwoon John Kwak and Sung Hyun Ryu.

Leading individuals

Byeong Jun Son - Lee & Ko

Myung Sub Kim - Lee & Ko

Next generation lawyers

Sung Hyun Ryu - Lee & Ko

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Legal Developments by:
Lee & Ko

  • Korean Financial Regulators Advance Legislation to Introduce Regulatory Sandbox to Spark FinTech

    The 2018 year in review in Korea was notable for the sluggish overall economy, uncertainty surrounding the geo-politics and impact on Korea due to the global trade wars, on-going concerns related to the lack of jobs and unemployment, increased taxes and burdens for businesses and families, and no meaningful improvement or clarity in the current situation for 2019. In response, the Korean National Assembly passed a legislation called the Financial Innovation Support Act (the “FinISA”) on December 7, 2018 to spark the financial services industry in conjunction with FinTech products and services. The FinISA, which will soon take effect in March 2019, is intended to lay the legal foundation to introduce a regulatory sandbox for innovative financial services, where FinTech firms test their new products and services without certain regulatory oversight pursuant to exemptions for a limited period of time (“Sandbox”). As the FinISA exempts or defers application of existing finance-related regulations for new financial technology, products or services with the purpose of fostering the creation of innovative and new financial products and services, it will also support the stabilization of such services in the financial services market at the end of the testing period and is expected that the FinISA will support a revitalization of the FinTech industry which experienced sluggish growth in recent times. In particular, as companies and investors become more interested in security tokens and Security Token Offerings (“STO”) which are regulated by the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act (the “FSCMA”), there have been on-going discussions and debates as to whether the FinISA could lead to a breakthrough in the crypto-asset industry based on blockchain technology. Crypto assets encompasses those assets which utilize blockchain technology where the asset is digitalized by utilization of cryptography, peer-to-peer networks and a public ledger of verified transactions resulting in a ‘units’ of such a crypto asset without any involvement by middle-persons or brokers (e.g., cryptocurrency.
    - Lee & Ko

Legal Developments in South Korea

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Korean Financial Regulators Advance Legislation to Introduce Regulatory Sandbox to Spark FinTech

    The 2018 year in review in Korea was notable for the sluggish overall economy, uncertainty surrounding the geo-politics and impact on Korea due to the global trade wars, on-going concerns related to the lack of jobs and unemployment, increased taxes and burdens for businesses and families, and no meaningful improvement or clarity in the current situation for 2019. In response, the Korean National Assembly passed a legislation called the Financial Innovation Support Act (the “FinISA”) on December 7, 2018 to spark the financial services industry in conjunction with FinTech products and services. The FinISA, which will soon take effect in March 2019, is intended to lay the legal foundation to introduce a regulatory sandbox for innovative financial services, where FinTech firms test their new products and services without certain regulatory oversight pursuant to exemptions for a limited period of time (“Sandbox”). As the FinISA exempts or defers application of existing finance-related regulations for new financial technology, products or services with the purpose of fostering the creation of innovative and new financial products and services, it will also support the stabilization of such services in the financial services market at the end of the testing period and is expected that the FinISA will support a revitalization of the FinTech industry which experienced sluggish growth in recent times. In particular, as companies and investors become more interested in security tokens and Security Token Offerings (“STO”) which are regulated by the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act (the “FSCMA”), there have been on-going discussions and debates as to whether the FinISA could lead to a breakthrough in the crypto-asset industry based on blockchain technology. Crypto assets encompasses those assets which utilize blockchain technology where the asset is digitalized by utilization of cryptography, peer-to-peer networks and a public ledger of verified transactions resulting in a ‘units’ of such a crypto asset without any involvement by middle-persons or brokers (e.g., cryptocurrency.
  • Flying Under the Radar

    Flying Under the Radar: Companies Must Increase Awareness of the Potentially Dormant and Disruptive Changes to the Minimum Wage in Korea
  • New Legislation: Amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Act on External Audit of Stock Companies

    The amendment to the Act on External Audit of Stock Companies (the “Act ”) and the enforcement decree thereof (the “Enforcement Decree ”), whose key feature pertains to the external audit and disclosure requirements for limited liability companies, became effective as of November 1, 2018. Certain provisions relating to the category of targets of external audits will become effective with respect to the fiscal years that commence on or after November 1, 2019. Therefore, for the majority of companies whose fiscal years begin on January 1 and ends on December 31 of each year, the revised category will become effective with respect to the fiscal year that begins on January 1, 2020.
  • New Proposed Tax Law Amendments Provide Clarification on the Taxation of Foreign Funds

    On July 30, 2018, the Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance (“MOEF ”) announced the proposed tax law changes/amendments for 2019 and beyond (“Proposals ”). The Proposals are expected to be reviewed and finalized by the Korean National Assembly in December 2018.
  • KFTC to Expand Scope and Penalties of Korea’s Antitrust Enforcement Regime

    Korea’s competition authority, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the “KFTC , has announced a proposal to expand its existing enforcement authority to the courts and prosecutors through a full-scale reform of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade  Act, Korea’s primary competition statute. If all proposed reforms are passed by the National Assembly as currently drafted, the impact on the Korean economy and antitrust enforcement will require companies doing business in Korea to tighten their risk management and compliance measures, as the scope and penalties of Korean antitrust enforcement would be broadened.
  • Korean data law amendments pose new constraints for cross-border online services and data flows

    Under amendments to IT Networks Act, set to take effect in March 2019 , offshore online businesses, meeting thresholds of nexus to Korea, will be required to designate local agent for regulatory oversight purposes.
  • New Legislation Reduces Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Korea

    *For better understanding of this article with other graphics , we highly recommend you to visit our firm's website as below. http://www.bkl.co.kr/upload/data/20180410/bkl-legalupdate-2018000410.html#.WsxBYIhuaHs
  • Supreme Court Renders Decision Calling for “Gender Sensitivity” in Sexual Harassment Cases

    Amid the widespread attention that sexual harassment/violence in the workplace has received due to international movements such as the “Me Too” movement, the Supreme Court of Korea has recently rendered a significant decision on the need to reform the judicial system’s approach to sexual harassment cases.
  • [South Korea] Amendment to Unfair Competition Law

    A bill to amend the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act (the “UCPA”) was promulgated on April 17, 2018, and is scheduled to take effect on July 18, 2018.   The bill introduces significant amendments to the UCPA, namely stipulating store interior designs as business marks and making the unauthorized use of “ideas” an act of unfair competition, thereby substantially expanding the applicability of Subparagraph 1 (j) of Article 2 (“fraudulent use of another person’s product”) of the current (or pre-amendment) UCPA.
  • [South Korea] Location information law amended to ease requirement for tracking of objects

    Under changes to Location Information Act, to take effect in October 2018, businesses will be allowed to track goods after obtaining registration instead of license.