On August 6 it was reported that US chip giant Intel has requested the US government to be permitted to register and protect its trademarks in North Korea, which is subject to strict US sanctions.
Intel's trademark registration in the hermit kingdom will be quite possible since Washington reacted positively to the request.
The report was confirmed by official documents, which Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) obtained from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury, through the recent public disclosure of information.
According to those documents, on August 15 last year, Intel submitted through its law firm Novak Druce & Quigg LLP an application for a “Specific License” to register, maintain, and strengthen its trademarks in North Korea, notwithstanding OFAC's remaining North Korean sanctions regulations.
Executive Order 13570 prohibits importation of goods, services, or technology from N. Korea to the US. Since trademark registration and protection of intellectual property can be limited there, Intel has asked permission.
The company said, "We are aware that US sanctions allow protection of intellectual property rights. Whoever wants to protect intellectual property assets in countries such as Cuba, Iran, or Sudan can do so without obtaining a “Specific License” from OFAC. Therefore, we request that we be permitted to remit money to North Koreans who are not subject to U.S. sanctions."
Intel has already designated Moranbong Patent and Trademark Agency, located in Pyongyang, North Korea, as its official representative in the North.
A diplomatic source in Washington remarks, "Intel's move appears to be aiming to pave the way for pushing into North Korea's market in the event of the lifting of U.S. sanctions."
But there is disagreement over this issue in the US government. Some favor the permission of intellectual property registration & protection activities regardless of sanctions, while others are against the idea, saying doing so may violate current sanctions.
Last year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations, was criticized for its possible breach of UN sanctions though its provision of IT equipment like intranet systems to N. Korea.