Singapore

Singapore is fast realising its ambitions of becoming a regional IP hub, thanks to strong governmental leadership, consistent economic growth and a commitment to innovation at universities and research institutions. In June 2016 the government-initiated Intellectual Property Financing Scheme, endowed with a S$100 million fund, saw its first approved application, blazing a trail for Singaporean businesses to collateralise loans through IP assets to fund expansion. The patent system also continues to evolve: for example, in a recent announcement, the so-called ‘foreign route’ for obtaining a patent in Singapore – which does away with the need for substantive examination locally for applicants which have filed a corresponding foreign or Patent Cooperation Treaty application with a prescribed office – will close as of January 2020. While this will remove a cost-efficient option for applicants, it should improve the overall quality of patents in the market.

Firms: litigation and transactions

1
Allen & Gledhill LLP
Bird & Bird ATMD LLP
Drew & Napier LLC
2
Amica Law LLC
Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Dentons Rodyk
Lee & Lee
WongPartnership LLP

Firms: prosecution

H
Allen & Gledhill LLP
Amica Law LLC
Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Bird & Bird ATMD LLP
Drew & Napier LLC
Spruson & Ferguson
Viering, Jentschura & Partner
Allen & Gledhill LLP
Allen & Gledhill “adapts its approach to suit client needs”, providing a “responsive and dependable” cradle-to-grave service. Matching all the technical expertise associated with a boutique with the resources of a formidable commercial law firm, it represents the best of both worlds for its innovative client base. Having handled the lion’s share of the Southeast Asian city-state’s patent infringement cases in 2016, its litigation squad is worthy of special mention. Leading from the front is statesman Stanley Lai. A Cambridge law PhD graduate, adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore and chairman of the Singapore Intellectual Property Office, he is one of the country’s most influential IP figures. He regularly breaks new ground and recently handled Singapore’s first skinny labelling case, acting on behalf of Warner-Lambert. The prosecution practice has recorded striking growth of late, with instructions flooding in across all technical fields. The firm’s patent analytics capabilities are a key draw and something which can give patrons an edge over less informed competitors. Head of prosecution Pei Lin Low is very engaged with clients and colleagues, but also finds the time for a lot of extracurricular work advancing the interests of the Singapore IP market and its stakeholders.
Amica Law LLC
Quality doesn’t come with a high price tag at Amica Law, which is why it proves so popular among research institutes; the firm is the first choice for the National University of Singapore when it comes to the preparation and prosecution of biotechnology, chemistry and material sciences patents. Its attractive cost-benefit ratio is also a draw for multinationals such as Intel. Lightning-fast response times are another hallmark of this customer-oriented outfit. Overseeing prosecution and strategic counselling activities is Winnie Tham, who is also extremely adept at brokering IP transactions. Alongside her is Jo-Ann See, a vastly experienced professional who “knows the answer to any question about Singaporean patent law and practice”. “Seriously good litigator” Jason Chan anchors the contentious division and ensures that clients have everything they need should things go awry.
Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow serves a wonderfully diverse client base that includes government agencies, start-ups and multinationals, effortlessly scaling its well-rounded prosecution, commercialisation and enforcement service up or down as required. The firm augmented its local IP capabilities in 2016, bringing over Abe Sun from its Bangkok bureau. It was a smart move: “Abe provides clear and thorough advice on global patent strategies. He understands cutting-edge technology and drafts international-standard patent specifications.” He joins a squad captained by Andy Leck, whose litigation and alternative dispute resolution nous is widely celebrated. Staff increases aside, it has been a busy year for the international firm, particularly on the IP monetisation front. An in-house team of economists gives the group an immediate leg-up when it comes to driving IP value, and achievements such as being the sole law firm on the panel of valuers for the government-run Intellectual Property Financing Scheme are well earned.
Bird & Bird ATMD LLP
Bird & Bird ATMD shines for its astute patent portfolio management work; big-picture thinking on strategy is a defining feature of its approach to the task. Having obtained quality patents for clients, the feted international IP titan also knows just how best to leverage them commercially. On the frontlines is master tactician Lorraine Anne Tay, whose sophisticated non-contentious practice is a must for ambitious innovators. There is a fully fledged litigation operation here, too, which makes light work of complex multi-jurisdictional battles over any technology going. Contentious don Alban Kang doesn’t keep all the secrets to himself – he is a prolific author on patent law. He recently took the lead on suits for Actavis and several other pharmaceutical and chemical companies.
Dentons Rodyk
Dentons formally merged with Rodyk & Davidson in April 2016, bringing a new international player to Singapore. The global capability and insight of the former, coupled with the local patent litigation credentials of the latter, make for a compelling offering. Interested parties should seek out consultant Ai Ming Lee, a seasoned patent infringement expert who crosses from high technology into life sciences with finesse. She does great things for marquee names such as Intel and Qualcomm but, passionate about grass-roots innovation, is active within the start-up scene, too. With a 50-strong staff, including a bevy of technically highly qualified individuals, Donaldson & Burkinshaw counts as one of the country’s largest specialty IP firms. It is also a thought leader and was recently requested by the IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) to provide input on potential prosecution process and practice improvements; it is also assisting IPOS in a number of other capacities, including as a supplier of legal services in dispute proceedings. Though the firm is a top filer, it isn’t all about volume; drafting commercially valuable, practically useful patents is the ensemble’s metier. Heading the life sciences and chemical group is the erudite Teck Yeow Lim. With ample pre-IP career research experience in the immunology field on his résumé, he is quick to engender the trust of inventors, who find him easy to communicate with. Showcasing advanced know-how in the electrical and mechanical arts, Hubert Giam also comes highly recommended. He is a keen educator and is much appreciated for his services to the wider IP community.
Drew & Napier LLC
A great choice whatever the weather, Drew & Napier matches a prolific filing practice with a hard-hitting contentious division. The firm is best known for the latter and, as an inveterate winner in high-stakes suits, is in hot demand among discerning multinationals which know exactly what quality legal representation looks like. In Tony Yeo, it has “one of the most outstanding IP litigators in Southeast Asia”. “Tony has all the characteristics that make up the perfect outside counsel; he understands your business needs and goals, and precisely tailors his advice and strategy to meet these. Extremely resourceful, he thinks outside the box while delivering clear and direct advice that enables quick decisions to be made.” Managing partner Dedar Singh Gill is another premier litigator who has chalked up over three decades of experience at the IP coalface. Shepherding patent applications through to registration, consultant Cecelia Girvin is the person to call for all things prosecution – including appeals arising in connection with IPOS decisions.
Lee & Lee

Lee & Lee – founded by the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister – has been a pioneer in intellectual property throughout its illustrious history. Providing inspiring leadership to the IP department is Tee Jim Tan – one of the few individuals in practice to be appointed by the Supreme Court as a senior counsel. This elite litigator can be counted on for some of the best advocacy going. Zechariah Chan demonstrates contentious wisdom beyond his years and has thrived under Tan during his time at the firm; he is also a resolutely commercial thinker, thanks to a stint in-house at a Fortune 25 US multinational. Yee Swan Boo is another name for the contact book: her litigation background ensures she can spot the chinks in the armour of a patent and she uses this insight to great effect in her predominantly prosecution-focused practice.

The world-famous Marks & Clerk is a preferred choice for quality-conscious patentees. Brimming with technical talent and home to a cosmopolitan crew of individuals qualified in multiple jurisdictions, there is virtually nothing it cannot handle when it comes to safeguarding innovation across the region. Far from just a filing mill, it also houses a consulting business which offers a variety of services, including IP management and valuation. The rainmaker here is Daniel Poh, a patent and design specialist with broad technical horizons. He played a key part in crafting the government blueprint to turn Singapore into an IP hub.
Spruson & Ferguson
Spruson & Ferguson is a regional powerhouse with teams in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand and Indonesia (the latter two both established in 2016) – no wonder, then, that it can serve some 3,000-plus clients annually. The clever deployment of sophisticated IT tools facilitates seamless cross-office collaboration and results in a highly cost and time-efficient service; in terms of process automation, it is a trailblazer in this part of the world. Its expertise in the chemical and life sciences fields is particularly impressive; a smaller, though no less brilliant team works its magic on engineering and IT briefs. Asia managing director and life sciences head Kristian Robinson is a registered patent attorney with an agent’s technical precision and the commercial and strategic sensibilities usually associated with a lawyer. His practice is broad ranging, encompassing infringement issues in addition to all things prosecution.
Viering, Jentschura & Partner
Given its Teutonic heritage, Viering, Jentschura & Partner can be relied on for a precision patent service and the firm makes its debut in the IAM Patent 1000 for 2017. It offers bespoke solutions, meeting and exceeding the expectations of start-ups, midcaps and multinationals. With representative offices in China and Taiwan, in addition to its three bases in Germany, and a cooperative firm in the United States, it can provide joined-up advice from East to West. Managing partner Adam Bogsch is the name for the contact book.
WongPartnership LLP
Singapore-headquartered WongPartnership offers something unique, given its strong presence not only in Asia, but also in the Middle East. This year marks its 25th anniversary and there is no shortage of things to celebrate, including a diverse client base, a bustling national patent prosecution practice and a tight-knit team. Chung Nian Lam is the man in charge and a client service award winner with an impeccable reputation. A leading proponent of IP development in Singapore, clients find him to be a dynamic ally ready to advance their commercial interests at a moment’s notice. An expert on telecommunications, he is no less knowledgeable in other fields, including information technology, media and broadcasting, and data protection.

Individuals: prosecution

Highly recommended
Cecelia Girvin - Drew & Napier LLC
Chung Nian Lam - WongPartnership LLP
Kristian Robinson - Spruson & Ferguson
Jo-Ann See - Amica Law LLC
Recommended
Ron Awyong - Orion IP
Yee Swan Boo - Lee & Lee
Hubert Giam - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
Chong-Yee Khoo - Cantab IP
Teck Yeow Lim - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
Pei Lin Low - Allen & Gledhill LLP
Daniel Poh - Marks & Clerk Singapore LLP
Ravi Ravindran - Ravindran Associates
Abe Sun - Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Lorraine Anne Tay - Bird & Bird ATMD LLP
Winnie Tham - Amica Law LLC

Individuals: litigation and transactions

Cyril Chua - Robinson LLC
Alban Kang - Bird & Bird ATMD LLP
Stanley Lai SC - Allen & Gledhill LLP
Dedar Singh Gill - Drew & Napier LLC
Tee Jim Tan SC - Lee & Lee
Zechariah JH Chan - Lee & Lee
Jason Chan - Amica Law LLC
Andy Leck - Baker McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Ai Ming Lee - Dentons Rodyk
Daniel Lim - Joyce A Tan & Partners
Ravi Ravindran - Ravindran Associates
Tony Yeo - Drew & Napier LLC
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Issue 85