China: Domestic

Significant changes could be afoot in China, which has become the third major patent destination after the United States and EPO. A sharp decline in patent filings during the country’s early-2020 covid-19 lockdown was followed by a major rally in application levels throughout the rest of the year, with China remaining largely unaffected while waves of the pandemic reverberated around the world. Towards the end of the year and in early 2021 it became clear that authorities in China were getting serious about their frequent refrains of “quality over quantity”, when the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) launched a big crackdown on “abnormal” patent filings and announced plans to scrap all filing subsidies by 2025. Examples have been made of agencies perceived to be churning out low-quality rights in legally murky circumstances as part of a campaign dubbed “Blue Sky”. All this should be a net positive for the Chinese IP scene in the long run, but the evaporation of financial incentives and greater upfront scrutiny of applications could have an impact on the level of domestic work to go around. Retaining a patent firm with a spotless reputation has never been more important. Luckily, there is no shortage of highly recommended agencies and law firms, making this the longest chapter in the Asia-Pacific section of the IAM Patent 1000.

Firms: transactions

Advance China IP Law Office 

Headquartered in Guangzhou, the “very high calibre” Advance China IP Law Office has grown in the space of two decades into one of the nation’s biggest full-service IP firms, home to almost 900 IP professionals. The patent team consists of 417 patent attorneys and engineers – more than enough to advise across all of the major tech verticals. Client service is a point of pride for the outfit – “ACIP treat each of our cases as though it is their most important matter” – and communication is a strength. One highly ranked US patent firm praises the team’s English language skills, while a major Japanese manufacturer expresses appreciation that members can communicate with their attorney in fluent Japanese. Shanghai-based Chong He manages ACIP’s international patent department: “His team represents several of our most important clients in China, ensuring that we obtain the best possible patent scope through their excellent interactions with CNIPA.” He has few peers, one of just three practitioners ranked as “highly recommended” in a crowded prosecution market. Wenwen Wang wins plaudits for work on life sciences patent prosecution: “She understands the technology involved and provides good guidance on responding to office actions. Her professionalism is excellent.” ACIP’s litigation capabilities also deserve a mention. The firms sees its broad geographic footprint as an advantage. From its home base in Guangzhou, its lawyers can supervise evidence collection across China’s high-tech manufacturing heartland, a key challenge given absence of discovery procedures in the country. Up in Beijing, a specialised patent invalidation group offers both offensive and defensive solutions for parties embroiled in conflict. Minhui Zeng is one of the firm’s go-to contentious experts. Based in Guangzhou, his resume includes earning one of China’s biggest patent damages awards for client Gree a few years ago. ACIP recently inaugurated a new office in Wuhan, a major university town and home of several important private sector R&D campuses. International clients should know that the outfit is the first choice of many top Chinese firms. One of the country’s biggest tech firms comments: “They have been a great help to us in terms of patent prosecution and portfolio management. We periodically rank our patent agencies and ACIP attorneys always score highly.”

AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office 

This firm’s Chinese-language name evokes the concepts of faith and trust. AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office founder Xia Zheng certainly enjoys the confidence of key overseas clients. “Her service is timely, comprehensive and adapted to our needs; she can go the extra mile and take charge of substantial work when needed.” While Zheng is the face of the firm, she has an impressive cohort behind her, consisting of more than 130 patent practitioners and over 50 supporting staff. Prosecution patrons run the gamut from large state-owned enterprises to Nasdaq 100 tech firms from overseas. A client-support team based in the Washington, DC area makes interactions with Western partners seamless. AFD also offers one-stop solutions through a sister law firm, BHTD Law, which is well placed to handle any contentious matters.

AN, TIAN, ZHANG & PARTNERS 

A compact team by market standards, An, Tian, Zhang & Partners operates as an elite squad of professionals, many of whom are both patent attorneys and qualified lawyers. The combination of prosecution and contentious experience helps clients on both ends – claims are drafted and won based on knowledge about what is most effective at the invalidation and infringement stages, while contentious proceedings can be handled by attorneys who know the prosecution history inside and out. David Tian is a seasoned litigator – big names such as Dell (China) and Daimler AG have trusted him to handle patent infringement disputes with local entities. One foreign associate on the litigation side remarks: “David and his colleague Ruifeng Li work seamlessly as part of my own team; our prompt and clear exchange of information and responsiveness makes them very easy to work with on patent instructions.”

AnJie Law Firm 

AnJie Law Firm remains a strong choice for patent litigation instructions in China, despite the departure of an IAM Patent 1000-ranked partner last year. “Efficient, invested and careful” is how one loyal client characterises the AnJie approach. The well-respected Qinghui (Nick) Liu headlines the partnership and commands respect from his long years on the bench, handling over 2,000 IP-related cases over a decade at the Beijing Higher People’s Court. He leads the IP department that hosts 50 professionals across three offices, including 10 at the partner level. Life sciences are a particular specialism for the side, which has recently represented innovative brands such as AstraZeneca AB and Novo Nordisk in invalidation matters. “Liu and his team have a deep understanding of the thinking of judges and examiners, providing innovative approaches to arguments.”

Beijing East IP Ltd

“Beijing East IP is one of the best patent agencies/law firms I have worked with over the past few years. Their service quality, quick responsiveness and professionalism all prove this.” High praise from a local patent counsel representing one of the biggest names in tech. Founded by Dr Lulin Gao, China’s first patent office director, Beijing East has been a big presence on China’s IP scene ever since. The “deeply impressive” outfit has extended its reach overseas with offices in London, Tokyo and California. “Their staff not only have good IP skills but also think of IP solutions in terms of clients’ business needs, creating a solid basis for our long-term cooperation.” Big global chipmakers, auto brands and their tier one suppliers are among a varied international client base.

Beijing Sanyou Intellectual Property Agency Ltd 

“Beijing Sanyou is special to us because of the professional relationships and trust we have developed with their leadership team.” Partner, patent attorney and qualified lawyer Xiaolin Dang is foremost among Beijing Sanyou practitioners, having handled over 1,000 patent applications and almost 100 invalidation cases over the past 13 years. The 180 patent attorneys that make up the crack prosecution team are tasked with steering critical patent applications through the grant process by both foreign and domestic clients. One recent highlight was an important matter for LG Chem, where Beijing Sanyou representatives secured the revocation of an examiner’s rejection based on deep understanding of the underlying technology. “They provide strategic advice on substantive matters, professional quality correspondence, attention to detail, precision in billing and genuine care for the clients’ best interests,” expounds one foreign associate, adding: “The number of important patent cases our firm has entrusted to Beijing Sanyou has increased significantly.”

CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office 

Few prosecution shops can go toe-to-toe with CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office, a giant in the space. One of the oldest and largest IP service providers in China, today the gold-ranked group has an impressive 249 individuals involved in patent practice. The “very responsive and effective” team is best known for its work expertly guiding applications through the CNIPA gauntlet and is also a major contender in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) work. Vice president Chuanhong Long counsels clients from within and without China – a highly-sought-after prosecutor for chemistry-related inventions, he is able to dispense advice on invalidation, enforcement and licensing equally well. Though best known for patent office work, CCPIT’s extensive reservoir of institutional technical knowledge make it a potent force in the litigation space as well – it has won mandates from illustrious overseas brands including Canon, which asked the firm to handle its first-ever patent infringement case in China.

Chang Tsi & Partners 

“Chang Tsi & Partners is a very progressive, forward-thinking firm. It provides excellent service and seeks to build very strong personal relationships with counterparts.” The Beijing-based business has a broad footprint, with offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and is going from strength to strength with the addition of three new partners and 50 new employees during the year prior to IAM’s research. The outfit shines in terms of diversity: 55% of its partners and 64% of its qualified lawyers are women. Key domestic clients include search giant Baidu, which turns to Chang Tsi & Partners for both contentious and non-contentious briefs. Michael Wu is a key fixture on the litigation team, boasting both patent attorney and legal qualifications. Wu has a gift for seeing through conflicts related to mobile telecoms and software. Headlining the prosecution side is Chenyan Wu, a stalwart of telecoms and semiconductor work who has also passed the US Patent Bar Exam. “Chenyan is extremely well versed in both US and Chinese patent laws and procedures, and we have found this unique combination very helpful and insightful in advising our clients with issues in China and working with clients of her firm to protect innovations in the United States.”

China Patent Agent (HK) Ltd 

China Patent Agent (HK) Ltd is one of the pioneering prosecution megafirms in China, with a steady stream of work on the non-contentious side for its “experienced, knowledgeable, polyglot staff” keeping the firm comfortably at the top. Deputy general manager Shaohui Yuan anchors the filing practice, which comprises 230 patent attorneys. A skilful drafter, he was trained in China and Germany and has a background in auto engineering. CPA is also attracting increased notice in disputes thanks to several talented legal minds and a focus on high-profile tech areas. “Yanfeng Xiong is one of the best patent litigators you can find on Chinese soil.” Xiong has developed a reputation for success in invalidation proceedings and is also representing Siemens in Chinese civil litigation. A parade of significant SEP holders have entrusted patent validity work to CPA professionals, who “stand out from the crowd, coming up with impressive arguments in a short time frame and giving star performances in oral hearings”. Yuhe Wu is another sterling litigator – he brings a background in biotech to bear on business-critical patent clashes. Pfizer is among the pharmaceutical giants that have enlisted CPA’s help in navigating invalidation actions – a top challenge for innovators due to this jurisdiction’s unique legal requirements.

China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd 

Long acclaimed for its patent prosecution prowess, this year China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd earns itself some well-deserved recognition for its stellar contentious practice, appearing for the first time among our recommended firms for litigation. Wei Zhao is senior partner, vice president and heads the electronics group. He has particular expertise in one of the hottest technologies on the current patent market, serving as an independent evaluator of the H.265 standard for a well-known patent pool. “Zhao and his team are always diligent and willing to take on very urgent cases with a short time frame to prepare the drafting – and at a high standard despite the quick turnaround.” The patent contingent at CSPTAL is capable of stepping beyond routine office work to deliver strategic portfolio advice. “We have conducted close cooperation with them on a project to cultivate higher-value patents, for which they set up a special team. They provide expert opinions on applications strategies, track our competitors’ output, identify gaps in the patent landscape and provide guidance to R&D personnel.” A fresh addition to the IAM Patent 1000, Bin Ni is one of the attorneys bringing notice to the firm’s contentious practice and is a wizard when it comes to CNIPA invalidation proceedings. “Ni is one of only two Chinese agents who can meet my personal requirements. He has a thorough understanding of technology and great attention to detail. Although he’s in high demand and very busy, I still insist on instructing him to draft my patents because he is very difficult to replace.”

China Sinda Intellectual Property Ltd 

Patent prosecution is the core business of China Sinda Intellectual Property Ltd, where a cohort of more than 150 experienced professionals assist applicants with all aspects of the registration process. This privately owned Beijing-based firm is led by Beibing Gary Zhang; recommended here for prosecution, he also has ample personal experience arguing patent cases in court. Zhang can make Chinese patent matters instantly comprehensible to those more familiar with the American system – a US-qualified lawyer and patent attorney, he has practised before both USPTO and CNIPA patent appeal boards. One overseas associate who recommends the firm observes: “Gary and his peers have a strong practice with Chinese clients including universities and other institutes as well as corporates. They collectively help patent a wide range of technologies in China.”

Co-effort Law Firm LLP

Shanghai-based Co-effort Law Firm LLP returns to the IAM Patent 1000 for a second year, confirming its reputation for practice before the CNIPA as well as patent transactional work. It is a full-service operation with over 400 lawyers and seven overseas offices, so a smart choice for those looking for comprehensive legal services. The IP department consists of over 60 professionals. Some of the firm’s more notable achievements have come in the software space, and it shows, with a roster of clients that includes Microsoft, Adobe and Tencent. Mingjie Zheng sits atop the patent department – the former examiner handled many cases for CNIPA’s patent reexamination and invalidation department, making her excellently situated to supply guidance on prosecution and search for electronics and information technology.

DEQI Intellectual Property Law Corporation 

DEQI Intellectual Property Law Corporation began life as the patent services arm of a top Chinese government ministry – privatised in 2001, it now serves clients from China and overseas while continuing to enjoy prime real estate just a short walk from the CNIPA headquarters in Beijing’s Haidian district. The roster includes 85 attorneys, and the team is fairly stable with 60% of them having worked at DEQI for more than 10 years. There is also a dedicated search team that can help international associates understand the lay of the land in a Chinese patent environment dominated by domestic-only filings. Wei Zhu directs the international department and is a good first port of call.

Fangda Partners

Litigants who need the best of the best to represent them in Chinese courtrooms call on Fangda Partners first. Some of the world’s most valuable tech companies have relied on the firm’s IP litigators for years and with good reason. The 70 lawyers at Fangda are consistently seen arguing China’s most complex and financially impactful patent and competition cases, all the way up to the Supreme People’s Court. Foremost among them is “the most impressive and formidable IP litigator in China”, Alexandra (Pu) Yang. Satisfied clients cite Yang’s deep understanding of patent law, the technical issues involved in each case as well as the nuances of various courts’ local practices. “Alex is the strongest patent litigator in the country – her ability and level of expertise in helping clients achieve their business goals is simply unmatched.” Apple has engaged Yang in multiple cases, including a long-running dispute over technology related to the Siri voice assistant in which the Cupertino company has had to defend itself against the highest civil patent damages claim in Chinese history. A mainstay of the Chinese litigation rankings over the years, Gordon Gao’s recent highlights include work for Astellas Pharma Inc against Chinese generics manufacturers in an exemplary case related to patent-drug linkage issues. It will come as little surprise that Fangda lawyers are heavily involved in the FRAND space, which has seen a multitude of globally significant disputes take place in Chinese courts in recent years. Fang Qi and Haining Song have each been involved in high-stakes SEP disputes of late.

Foridom IP Law Firm 

“Foridom IP Law Firm’s professional, earnest, diligent and responsible work ethic is deeply impressive.” A medium-sized firm with 30 patent attorneys in the fold, Foridom has attracted a particularly loyal client base among the many innovative tech companies from Shanghai, where the firm is headquartered, and the surrounding environs. “Their service quality, and track record of successful cases for well-known customers were what attracted us to work with them,” one local patron comments. Alibaba Group is among the top-flight businesses that tap the “efficient and pragmatic” Dong Shao for crucial patent prosecution tasks.

Han Kun Law Offices 

Clients “feel at ease” when they know the capable team at Han Kun Law Offices is looking after their most important IP rights from conception to grant and standing ready to assist with offensive or defensive litigation needs. “We feel that they are fighting in the same trench as us.” It’s the combination of contentious and non-contentious that drives so much of the Beijing-based outfit’s efficiency. “Their litigation team and prosecution team work together closely, which is good because the two practices complement each other very well.” Communication is a real strong suit. “Whenever I have a question, I just pick up the phone and get practical, helpful answers in no time.” So too is international outlook. “Besides China, they have practical experience in the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea, which helps to produce enforceable claim construction and patents that meet disclosure and other requirements in multiple jurisdictions.” The firm offers the full suite of services, with more than 100 IP practitioners spread throughout the capital, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Leading light Lili Wu is a true all-rounder – a sage provider of “whole-process patent portfolio management”, she has also acted in administrative and civil cases leading all the way up to the Supreme People’s Court. Dolby, Disney and Oracle all route key patent applications through Wu’s team. Yan Wang leads the IP litigation department and is licensed to practice in China, New York and Washington DC. He has won mandates from some of the leading companies in the consumer electronics space to help steer business-critical litigation efforts. Rui Luo is another notable name from the disputes team and has emerged as a favourite of foreign multinationals.

IP March 

“Strict quality control, good foreign language ability and smooth communication” are just a few qualities that clients prize in prosecution boutique IP March. Leading auto manufacturers from around the world find that the firm’s patent services meet their exacting standards. Stephen Yang steers the ship, captaining a team that has grown to encompass 11 partners and 47 fee earners, 85% of whom are women. The group’s most recent initiative has been the hire of two attorneys at law under the aegis of IP March Law Firm, which will see it able to offer expanded services in the litigation space.

Jeekai & Partners

Beijing-based stalwart Jeekai & Partners has a stable of 80 patent attorneys who dispense advice covering all stages of the prosecution process. The team also stands ready to support clients in invalidation and reexamination cases, as well as administrative litigation appeals. Managing partner Robin Zhao has several years’ experience practising IP law in the United States with top private practices and is an ideal point of contact for interested clients.

Jiaquan IP Law  

“Strategic counselling at competitive prices” make Jiaquan IP Law Firm a top choice for both domestic and cross-border work. Based in Guangzhou, the full-service IP firm has over 400 individuals engaged on the patent side, helping companies obtain and enforce Chinese patent rights. The team is “knowledgeable, diligent and strives to provide clients with the best possible services”. Foreign associates speak highly of the patent prosecution side, which is equipped with enough experts across different industries that work of any type can be sent over without hesitation. “JIL’s service is special because they make it very easy to do business with them, and we know our cases are in safe hands.” CNIPA procedures and time frames are explained with the utmost clarity. On the litigation side, Jacky Yingqiang Tan has reached favourable outcomes in a string of invalidation disputes while arguing parallel infringement matters before the courts.

Kangxin Partners PC

Kangxin Partners PC “delivers consistent results” year after year. Its prosecution practice ascends to the silver tier of this year’s IAM Patent 1000 on the back of its “unrivalled professional competence, high accuracy and strong communication”. James Chen heads the foreign patent department, and his personal practice focuses on semiconductors, material processing and electronics. Kangxin’s huge output of CNIPA-granted patents is complemented by a heavy docket of PCT work – both incoming and outgoing. The Beijing-based department is also tapped to handle critical invalidation and reexamination work. Guiming (Gary) Wu marries prosecution with litigation nous to the benefit of his Fortune 500 clients. Overseas associates appreciate working with foreign-qualified members of the team: “What makes Kangxin special is its ability to understand the big picture and goals of our clients, which is different form the piecemeal legal advice we often received working with other firms.”

King & Wood Mallesons 

King & Wood Mallesons continues its reign atop the Chinese IP legal space – the firm again wears the triple crown, as the only entity in the market given the highest ranking possible across prosecution, litigation and transactions tables. “Their individual ability is strong, but their teamwork is better. They really make use of everyone’s specialties to manage cases.” There is no shortage of spectacular individual talents on board, with eight ranked professionals setting the pace for the China chapter once again. IP department head Maohua Wang does it all, as a prosecutor recommended in the top band and a contentious practitioner with a long string of wins behind him. Tina Tai is another well-respected leader who joined KWM two years back, bringing with her a stellar track record as the principal representative of numerous innovative pharmaceutical companies in milestone cases. “She develops innovative litigation strategies and implements them effectively, leveraging her subject-matter expertise and familiarity with case law and patent practice.” Tai’s arrival bolstered a life sciences squad that was already a national champion. One of the cornerstones of pharmaceutical expertise within KWM is Wenping Chen, who has helped innovators including Gilead Sciences, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Bayer fend off threats to the validity of blockbuster rights. Patrons value the international perspective that Nongfan Zhu brings to cross-border deals and disputes, with his experience spanning both the United States and China, in both in-house and external roles. A former patent office examiner who adjudicated validity disputes over Chinese patents, Jin Mao has gone on to represent clients in contentious disputes nationally recognised for their influential nature. Rounding out the stacked litigation department are two lawyers who have taken on major SEP work: Jing Xu is an IP all-rounder who has helped foreign companies navigate wireless disputes and antitrust FRAND matters; Zhenhua (Ben) Ni has won mandates from major rights holders drawing on competition law knowledge to help design licensing programmes for the China market.

Leader Patent & Trademark Firm 

Over the course of two decades, Leader Patent & Trademark Law Firm has grown to become a reliable partner for foreign clients in the Chinese IP space. A crew of over 300 specialists is capable of handling applications in any common technology domain and has amassed a success rate in securing grants that is well above average, with an examination period that is well below it. Founder Fang Liu is a “very well reputed practitioner” who has acted for the likes of Huawei, Sony, Qualcomm and Siemens during her career. “It’s never a surprise to see Leader on the other side of an important patent invalidation argument,” colleagues in China remark. Market chatter also reports that Shuang Ma is “handling quite a few cases” at CNIPA’s Patent Reexamination and Invalidation Department.

LexField Law Offices

With a track record that speaks for itself, LexField Law Offices remains perched comfortably at the apex of the table for patent litigation in China. Blue-chip foreign tech names regularly assign make-or-break Chinese patent cases to a side that makes its living tackling the most technically complex and commercially sensitive disputes that the market has to offer. Managing partner Hongyi Jiang knows just how to play it in front of Chinese judges. Qualcomm’s counsel of choice in its major clash in China with Apple, Jiang more recently represented sovereign patent fund France Brevets, Chemical giant Solvay and a host of industrial companies from Japan. LexField takes particular pride in taking cases the distance and can point to numerous Supreme People’s Court reversals of provincial higher courts it has earned for clients – among the toughest feats in Chinese law. Prosecution whizz David Huang is winning big-name mandates to the non-contentious side of the business. One of only three individuals highly recommended in China, he is often called in to take charge of stalled applications that are considered business-critical, scrutinising an examiner’s analysis and finding creative ways to overcome objections.

Lifang & Partners

Offering one of the most complete all-around patent offerings in China, Lifang & Partners excels by combining legal and technology chops and facilitating knowledge sharing between its contentious and non-contentious teams. Clients such as Samsung and Qihoo 360 take advantage by instructing the firm for both prosecution and litigation matters. Some of China’s most innovative businesses – Tencent, BOE and Megvii – outsource patent drafting and filing to Lifang & Partners. “They not only prosecute our patents, but also provide us with in-depth patent early warning analysis services, helping us gauge risks and prepare legal strategies.” Managing partner Guanbin Xie matches wits with the very best litigators in the country and has racked up an impressive record in closely watched cases. The gold-tier counsel recently represented Xiaomi on both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s side and has a loyal client in Samsung, which he has aided against NPE assertions. “Sincere and trustworthy” Haidong Yu wins high praise from courtroom clients. “He is good at getting an overview of the situation and predicting the actions of opponents. He uses extremely skilful litigation strategies to counteract opponents’ actions and gain the upper hand, all while minimising the commercial impact of litigation.” Yuanyuan Zhang is an authority on all things semiconductor and microelectronics who is no stranger to invalidity tussles, having chaired panels hearing blockbuster disputes as a CNIPA lead examiner.

Linda Liu & Partners 

An ever-reliable choice for prosecution matters, Linda Liu & Partners is growing its footprint on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide. Japan Inc has long flocked to the Beijing partnership to assure sanctuary for its most important inventions at the CNIPA, but the firm’s following spans the globe. “All the partners work to a high standard and are worthy of recommendation – they are incredibly responsive, provide top-tier service and advice, and come in at an eminently reasonable price point.” Tsinghua University PhD Junping Yan is a dab hand when it comes to materials science and inorganic chemistry, relishing the most complicated briefs. Many US-based associates will know Nancy Song best, and they do not hesitate to sing her praises: “One of the reasons why her services are so special is that she understands the needs and objectives of US companies, and achieves those objectives through CNIPA prosecution where other Chinese law firms have tried and been found wanting.” Another favourite of the international crowd is Peter (Baoyu) Zhang, who is equally comfortable getting stuck into a patent application and drafting an opinion for upcoming litigation. Turning his trained eye to all manner of biotech patent work, Wenhan Liu draws on subject-matter expertise and CNIPA experience to spell out how foreign companies can get better grants. Litigator Sai Chen acquits herself with distinction in contentious disputes, which recently include a pair of big wins in design cases. Women, including founder Linda Liu, hold up more than half the sky at the firm, where they account for 60% of partners.

Liu, Shen & Associates 

Liu, Shen & Associates is one of the true giants of CNIPA patent prosecution work, long having been the first port of call for foreign filers seeking safe sanctuary for their rights in China. It has grown into a colossus of the PCT system as well, joining the select club of firms responsible for more than 1,000 filings through the global patent system in 2020. On the litigation side, Liu, Shen is the home base for “skilled and zealous advocates” such as Allen F Tao and Jun Qiu.

Lung Tin Intellectual Property Agent Ltd 

A “trusted partner for prosecution work”, Lung Tin Intellectual Property Agent Ltd is one of the legacy firms that has represented the interests of foreign filers in China since the inauguration of its young patent system. Now, it is just as adept at shepherding the applications from China’s own innovative upstarts. LG Electronics, BOE, Oppo and Xiaomi are among the patent filers supported by 438 total staff and 180 attorneys. Yan Huang is a tremendous asset to inventors in the mechanical fields, a seasoned veteran at procuring grants: “Her commitment to the company has been great.” Taking his first bow in the IAM Patent 1000 is Jacob Siyue Zhang, a “serious, meticulous, diligent and tireless” practitioner who excels at every stage from application to validity challenge to litigation. “Companies and practitioners in the United States tend to be very results-focused, and are not always equipped to deal with the cultural nuances of enforcing intellectual property in China. Jacob recognises this and provides realistic deliverables at the outset while staying within the confines of our clients’ budgets.”

NTD Intellectual Property Attorneys 

“I am always confident that NTD Intellectual Property Attorneys can assemble a professional team with in-depth knowledge in a given legal or technical field,” says one long-time collaborator. The Beijing-based outfit provides a one-stop service for rights holders via a team whose low rate of turnover means that patrons know and trust their attorneys. Strong ties with its customers has enabled NTD to grow its base of operations with a new office in Beijing and the addition of over 30 professionals bringing its total complement of patent attorneys to 158. Global leaders in chips and computers highlight the list of applicants instructing NTD for CNIPA prosecution work. Senior partner June Wang has spent years earning the support of Big Tech names with her encyclopaedic knowledge of SEPs (both wireless and multimedia-related), semiconductors and software. Senior partner Heather Lin is a safe pair of hands for all aspects of biotech patent protection. On the contentious side, chemicals, materials and pharmaceutical companies rely on the courtroom instincts of NTD’s astute litigators. Christopher Shaowei is a multi-decades veteran of People’s Court practice and headlines a team of more than 50 lawyers. “NTD successfully represented our company in many IP disputes. For example, they overturned a patent invalidation decision unfavourable to us at the Beijing High Court and achieved many other successes in defending our patents before CNIPA. They also assisted us in a patent infringement dispute negotiation with a well-known state-owned company to get a satisfactory outcome.” “Indispensable” colleagues Jonathan Miao and Fei Kou continue to win rave reviews for their “strong business acumen and sophisticated legal skills”.

Panawell & Partners LLC 

Panawell & Partners LLC is comfortable counselling on the full spectrum of IP matters, but its facility with securing Chinese patent grants is once again what lands it a spot in the IAM Patent 1000. From both head outpost in Beijing and its outpost in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, dozens of patent attorneys work tirelessly to craft watertight patent applications to the satisfaction of local and overseas inventors. Partner William Yang allows the firm to fly its flag on the litigation tables of this year’s guide too. The backbone of the contentious practice, his US legal training has made him an attractive partner for rights holders including Airbus Operations GmbH and Kimberly-Clark.

PatentSino IP Firm 

PatentSino IP Firm is a relative newcomer to the Chinese prosecution space, having opened its doors back in 2012, but patent filers who have thrown in their lot with the Beijing-based service provider give it top marks. “They are highly professional, fast and their cost efficiency is excellent.” The firm is making its biopharma team a strategic priority – it has more than doubled from 15 to 35 professionals, while management says that it is keen to focus on this field because companies focus on quality much more than quantity, playing to PatentSino’s strengths. Firm president Jifu Liu rolls up his sleeves to tackle important prosecution and transactional tasks in cases where he can leverage his extensive knowledge of materials and chemical science. “We entrust Jifu Liu and his team with matters from our firm’s most important clients and value their superior quality in handling cases.”

PC & Associates 

A firm whose star is rising in the Chinese litigation market, PC & Associates offers the full gamut of IP services. It is helping to facilitate the international expansion of all-star drone maker DJI by drafting and filing PCT applications, for which it has received recognition from the client for outstanding work. The side is also reputation as a good firm to know for foreign Big Tech firms targeted by NPE activity in China, having supported Sony in both invalidation procedures and infringement litigation involving a patent assertion entity. Its growing profile in Chinese courtrooms can be chalked up to “outstanding” partner Wei Dong, a sage litigator who is meticulous in his pursuit of the best possible outcomes. Another top Chinese advocate remarks: “I have known Wei Dong for two decades and he has earned my respect fully.”

Scihead

Guangzhou powerhouse Scihead boasts numbers that speak for themselves, being one of only four firms in the world to file more than 2,000 PCT applications during 2020. But associates attest that the southern colossus is about much more than just quantity, which is why it is one of just two members of that 2,000 filings club to merit a firm ranking in the IAM Patent 1000. A steadfast relationship with Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies, China’s top patentee both at home and abroad, is part of the reason for its success. Founder Xu Wen carries the banner for the firm and commands respect for his long legal track record.

Shanghai Patent & Trademark Law Office LLC

Operating from China’s beating commercial heart, Shanghai Patent & Trademark Law Office LLC is one of the oldest and most well-established patent firms outside of the nation’s capital. A staff of 300 is composed mainly of 200 patent and trademark attorneys and lawyers. Invention experts are assembled into three teams: electronics and physics, chemical and biopharma, and mechanical engineering. Life sciences maven Zheng Fan is a key name for the address book.

Tsingyihua Intellectual Property LLC

Tsingyihua Intellectual Property LLC began as the patent office of Tsinghua University, China’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, so it is well equipped to work with researchers and inventors from an academic background. Its prosecution output is prodigious, as one of China’s top 10 PCT representatives. The group maintains five branches outside of its Beijing home office, including one in tech capital Shenzhen. Chairman Hecheng (Terry) Song is the face of the firm.

Unitalen Attorneys at Law 

More than 200 patent attorneys join forces to make Unitalen one of the single biggest sources of Chinese patent applications. The firm churns out grants in every significant technical area, with part of its secret being a network of branches that are able to service local clients from all over the country. “Their processes are finely tuned and always timely, with communication that is second-to-none.” One local practitioner observes that Unitalen has “expanded greatly in China and also become very much an international firm.” A well-populated legal department enables the group to handle dozens of civil litigation cases simultaneously, on top of its heavy administrative docket. Vice president Deshan Li is a superb advisor on patent strategy in the round and a thought leader respected throughout the industry. Wei Pan adroitly handles both incoming and outgoing work related to Europe: automobiles, aircraft, appliances and other mechanical apparatuses are his bread and butter.

Wanhuida Intellectual Property 

Operating through both an IP agency and a law firm, Wanhuida Intellectual Property runs a one-stop shop for rights holders of all stripes. The Beijing-based business has been investing in the tech side of its practice and winning plaudits from clients. Wanhuida’s double-gold ranking in our sister guide the WTR Trademark 1000 is evidenced by the high-calibre consumer goods companies that turn to it for both invention patent and design patent matters, including adidas AG, SEB SA and L’Oreal. But the patent practice led by S Sam Li is also more than fit to contest disputes in the most complex of high-tech areas, including wireless SEPs. With 10 years of experience as a CNIPA examiner, Tiejun Tang steps up to the plate in tricky biotech litigation. The “trusted” Shuhua Zhang “is a go-to for the cases that matter most in business terms”, with a successful record stretching all the way to the Supreme People’s Court. Feng (Janet) Zheng “does an amazing job” in the courtroom. “She is very sharp in defining and implementing a strategy and always delivers tailor-made solutions.” Xiaoling Duan coordinates filing programmes to the great satisfaction of applicants. “We receive very quick responses that are always highly professional and well-founded, even when it comes to complex and strategic IP issues. If there are urgent topics that require more capacity, Wanhuida always provided a competent team to handle them.” Clients love the firm’s fair and transparent cost scheme.

Watson & Band Law Offices

“Watson & Band Law Offices offers proficient IP support through fantastic attorneys and seamless teamwork. In tough cases, they deploy a crack team to ensure a positive outcome.” The Shanghai-based full-service corporate outfit counts intellectual property as one of its top practices. Its internal patent filing numbers clearly demonstrate that demand for its prosecution services are growing at a healthy clip with the addition of several big clients from the United States. The disputes team has recently seen action in contentious matters for Japanese corporates Seiko and Asahi Kasei. Hua Xiao is the general manager and has a mastery of computer-related technologies.

Zhong Lun Law Firm

Zhong Lun Law Firm is one of only two domestic firms in China recommended by the IAM Patent 1000 in all three areas: prosecution, litigation and transactions. This breadth of practice is no surprise given that it is one of China’s largest full-service commercial law groups. Eighteen IP partners and over 100 fee earners cater to the likes of Tencent, Microsoft China and BMW. Besides being a decorated courtroom veteran, Shanghai-based Helen Cheng is one of the first names that comes to mind when multinationals need to structure strategic cross-border IP and technology deals.

Zhongzi Law Office 

One of Zhongzi Law Office’s principal strengths is its capability across all facets of patent law. On the prosecution side in particular, it is replete with talented practitioners who have experience to spare getting applications across the finish line at the CNIPA. Revered managing partner Bonan Lin has been in practice since 1982, meaning he has been on the scene for as long as China’s patent law has been in force. Xiaoguang Yang has practised for nearly as long and is still diving deep on matters involving electronics, computers and communications.

Other recommended experts

Over at Wu Feng & Zhang, name partner Amy Feng makes a terrific choice for the prosecution of biotech-related patents. Jing He has set up shop with GEN Law after departing Anjie Law Firm last year. “His connections to well-known professors and subject matter experts that can act as expert witnesses is a great value. He is very easy to communicate with and get along with, and his legal and technical analysis has been spot-on from our perspective.” Zhihua Huang runs TDIP & Partners and helps CNIPA applicants find the end zone in computer, electronics and communications cases. Jiancheng Jiang founded Peksung Intellectual Property Ltd back in 2003 and over the years has been engaged by the likes of Bayer, BASF and Allergan to marshal inventions through the CNIPA application process. Bob Jin and Andy Xiang headline at Twelve Tables Law Firm, an IP boutique with nine individuals on the patent side, including a trio of recently added litigators with CNIPA examiner experience. They are kept busy representing some of China’s biggest tech companies in big competitor disputes. IAM Patent 1000 debutante Yining Nan is a founding partner at Innotrack. “We have been working with Yining for many years now. This personal relationship is critical to our workflow and reinforces our own brand promise to our clients that we only entrust our foreign work to those firms with excellent service. They are always available at a moment’s notice, their work product is substantively superior to that of other firms, and their rates are very competitive.” More praise for Innotrack: “a firm that not only has an exceptional grasp of Chinese patent law but also a deep understanding of local laws and procedures in the United States and Europe. This elevates their comments and advice. Grasp of the technology is sometimes an issue with their competitors in the Chinese market, but never with Innotrack.” Over at WinGuan Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Shenwen Ni wins one patent after another for overseas associates: “His profound knowledge and reliability have helped us and our clients obtain a considerable number of rights, and we are looking forward to further years of cooperation.” Clients of the Guangzhou-based outfit are “very impressed by their knowledge of the technology and their English skills, which are superior to many others we have tried in the market”. Prosecution ace Daz Wang plies his trade at Insight Intellectual Property Co Ltd, a boutique he set up back in 2002. The pharmaceutical specialist can converse fluently with German-speaking patrons. At JunHe LLP, a large full-service firm that is part of the Lex Mundi and Multilaw networks, Zhaolin (Johnson) Wang carries the IP torch with his tenacious advocacy in patent litigation disputes. New Patent 1000 member Dajian Wu is a “pioneer” among Chinese patent attorneys who earns top marks for translations as well as prosecution under the aegis of Yuhong Intellectual Property Law Firm, which the former China Patent Agent (HK) president established in 2010. “I rely on Mike Xue and accept no alternatives.” The “first-class” East & Concord Partners patent attorney boasts “perfect language skills” in Japanese, English and Chinese, commanding fierce loyalty from overseas associates who universally consider him “the best Chinese business partner”. Xue “is a very intelligent person and quickly understands issues whether legal or technical, which enables him to make convincing arguments both in the court and the patent office.” “It’s simple: he is the most reliable among all of the Chinese lawyers I’ve worked with over many years. He provides excellent and detailed advice, he is diligent, punctual, customer-first and, above all, honest. He can say ‘no’ when he believes the answer is ‘no’, a quality that is essential for a lawyer.” Xue is also reported to have a stellar badminton game. Jingtian & Gongcheng litigator Ye Zhao earned big notch on his belt this year, securing China’s first-ever patent anti-suit injunction from the Supreme People’s Court on behalf of Huawei – a decision that continues to reverberate globally. Before entering private practice, Yunchuan Zhou was a judge who had heard IP cases for 14 years, ultimately serving on the Supreme People’s Court. Before joining Saelink Law he was of counsel at Jones Day. His experience gives him enviable perspective on navigating contentious patent disputes in China.

Individuals: litigation

Individuals: prosecution