UPDATE : 2019.3.20 WED 10:28
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Big companies face hefty fines for stealing technology owned by small firms

The government said Monday that it will strengthen the punishment for big companies that steal technology owned by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the latest move to create a fair market.

The measures -- released after a consultative meeting with the ruling party -- would make big companies pay compensation of up to 10 times the damages incurred by smaller firms if they engage in technology theft, the government said.

The government also said that it will be up to big companies suspected of stealing technology to prove that they did not infringe on the rights of smaller firms.

In the past, companies that fell victim to this kind of theft had to prove their rights had been breached, which put heavy burdens on firms with limited resources.

The latest move illustrates South Korea's commitment to leveling the playing field for SMEs in a country that has been dominated by conglomerates for decades.

South Korea has been pushing to make sure that the business environment is fair for small firms and big businesses alike and to make certain that conglomerates, known as chaebol, won't prey on smaller firms.

The government also said it will slap fines on violators of non-disclosure agreements between big companies and their smaller counterparts over trade secrets.

The Korea Federation of SMEs, which speaks for smaller firms, welcomed the government's measures. "We expect the measures to root out the practice of technology theft from SMEs by big companies," the federation said.

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koeapost.com

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