As you may be aware, the US has for some time imposed strict sanctions on trade with North Korea, and both HM Treasury of Great Britain and the United Nations have similarly imposed such sanctions. A recent development in this regard has made these sanctions even more stringent. 

The sanctions have forbidden all transactions with North Korea (including ongoing transactions), which are therefore being rejected or frozen, with the exception of certain transactions relating to food or humanitarian aid, and financial institutions are therefore refusing to process any payments destined for North Korean entities or their beneficiaries. As a result of these sanctions, it is currently impossible to send any payments to North Korea, and consequently, we are unable to pay our North Korean associates for any work which they undertake on our behalf in our clients' intellectual property matters.

By way of background, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States. OFAC acts under US Presidential national emergency powers, as well as authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze assets under US jurisdiction. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope, and involve close cooperation with allied governments. 

On 20 June 2011, OFAC amended the North Korea Sanctions Regulations, rendering them more stringent, and as you will appreciate, this development has left us, and other IP practitioners, in the unfortunate predicament that we are powerless to undertake any fee-incurring work in respect of any North Korean matters. We have made extensive enquiries to try and find a solution to this problem, but we have been unable to identify any legal means of paying our North Korean associates at this time. 

Under the circumstances, we regret that we are currently unable to accept any new instructions for the filing, processing or renewal of your IP rights. We trust that you will appreciate this difficult situation, which is entirely beyond our control. Further developments will be reported when known.