SEOUL, A South Korean local court has approved the seizure of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s trademark and patent assets, after the Japanese company had refused to heed an earlier order by the South Korean Supreme Court to compensate victims of wartime forced labor, a civic activist group said Monday.

The Daejeon District Court last Friday ordered the seizure of two trademark rights and six patents of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, according to the civic group dealing with colonial Japan's recruitment of Koreans for forced labor.

As a result, the Japanese company will be barred from disposing of or transferring the concerned trademark and patent rights at will.

The ruling came after four Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor, including 88-year-old Yang Geum-deok, filed a request with the Seoul Central District Court in January demanding the seizure of Mitsubishi assets worth 804 million won (US$709,000).

The petition was later transferred to the local court in Daejeon, where the Korean Intellectual Property Office is located.

The Supreme Court ruled last November that Mitsubishi must award up to 120 million won each to 12 forced labor victims and their family members in one of two landmark rulings on forced labor cases.

But Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has since failed to respond to requests by the lawyers of the forced labor victims for compensation negotiations.

"As long as Mitsubishi doesn't show a faithful attitude towards the repeated court orders, we'll continue to take our own measures in the future as planned," a civic group official said.

The top court also upheld a similar appellate ruling last October against Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp., but the Japanese company has not accepted the ruling.

Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-45. South Korea says Japanese leaders do not sincerely repent for the country's past wrongdoings and refuse to take full legal responsibility. Japan claims all reparation issues were settled in the 1965 treaty that normalized their diplomatic ties.

Source: Yonhap news Agency