Singapore

Last year the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) was ranked as the world’s most innovative IP office, an achievement due in large part to the efforts of former chief executive Daren Tang to transform the organisation from an administering registry to an innovation agency. Tang departed in 2020 to become the new director general of WIPO, one of the most high-profile jobs in intellectual property. Under his successor, career Singapore government official Rena Lee, IPOS continues to push boundaries. It recently announced what it claims will be the world’s fastest patent grant process, cutting pendency for new rights to just six months. This fast lane is open to applications that are first filed in Singapore and contain 20 or fewer claims – although for now the office only has the capacity to grant five of these fast-track requests per month and applicants are limited to 10 requests per year. The initiative follows previous trials that focused on specific technology areas such as AI, although the new scheme applies to any technology.

Firms: litigation

  • Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Bird & Bird LLP
  • Dentons
  • Drew & Napier LLC
  • Amica Law LLC
  • Lee & Lee
  • Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Mirandah Asia

Firms: prosecution

  • Marks & Clerk
  • Spruson & Ferguson
  • Viering, Jentschura & Partner
  • Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Amica Law LLC
  • Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Dentons
  • Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Drew & Napier LLC
  • McLaughlin IP Pte Ltd
  • Bird & Bird LLP
  • Davies Collison Cave
  • Lee & Lee
  • Mirandah Asia
  • WongPartnership LLP

Firms: transactions

  • Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Amica Law LLC
  • Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Bird & Bird LLP
  • Dentons
  • Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Drew & Napier LLC
  • Lee & Lee
  • WongPartnership LLP

Allen & Gledhill LLP

“Allen & Gledhill live up to their strong reputation in patent litigation. They are leading practitioners with in-depth knowledge of both local Singapore law and global patent legal developments.” The firm’s unmatched standing for handling contentious disputes was largely built by its head of intellectual property, Stanley Lai SC – one of just two senior counsel in Singapore who specialises in trying IP cases. His current brief is acting for industrial giant Nippon Steel in a patent assertion against a key rival – with parallel disputes ongoing in Japan and Taiwan, this will be a closely watched contest throughout the region. It follows a star turn in one of the biggest global patent wars of last year, when Lai led a team on behalf of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation against Globalfoundries, prior to the two sides agreeing to a licence. Pei Lin Low has established an impressive drafting and prosecution practice over more than 20 years with the firm. Big local innovators like the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and Nanyang Technological University count on Low’s team to procure grants across the wide range of technologies that they both study. Strong Chinese language capability within the group has also made loyal clients of top Chinese firms including Huawei. As head of the technology and corporate IP practice, Tham Kok Leong rounds out Allen & Gledhill’s offering with a more transactional bent – he is often approached to craft licensing and commercial agreements and to advise on matters of data protection, cybersecurity and e-commerce.

Amica Law LLC

IP specialist firm Amica Law LLC provides all-round services to a roster of clients that includes local leaders such as the National University of Singapore alongside Fortune 500s such as ExxonMobil. The group has been in the spotlight recently for its role in one of Singapore’s longest running current patent disputes; a team led by litigation practice head Jason Chan is acting for Element Six Technologies, a subsidiary of De Beers Group, in a landmark infringement case involving patents for synthetic diamond production. Young litigator Melvin Pang joins the ranks of the IAM Patent 1000 this year. “Melvin is quick to grasp the issues and pick up his client’s concerns and wishes. He is expert at providing legal advice that evaluates all the options, considers the business as well as the legal aspects, weighs up the pros and cons, and delivers a concise, reasoned recommendation.” From AI to semiconductors to biotech, top names in tech entrust portfolio matters to Amica’s sizable prosecution team. Director Winnie Tham plays a key role on that side of the business, drawing on her own technical background to obtain rights for life sciences innovators. Inventors love working with Edmund Kok: “It’s refreshing to have an IP attorney that brings a scientific-oriented angle and knows our lingo well.” Kok draws praise for his breadth of knowledge, thoroughness and skilful rebuttals against examiners.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow represents a key node in the global network of more than 150 patent lawyers and agents. Innovators approach the firm directly for its knowledge of Singapore’s laws, with many relying on it to coordinate filings across the Southeast Asia region. “The team has excellent domain knowledge, is highly responsive and provides thoroughly considered advice on every issue – plus they understand clients’ needs and tailor their legal strategies accordingly.” Andy Leck sits atop the IP practice group, formulating dispute resolution strategies as well as taking on complex transactional briefs related to franchise, pharmaceutical and media partnerships. On the prosecution side, Abe Sun has subject matter expertise across a wide range of technologies including hardware, software, AI and blockchain. Sun also prosecutes applications not just in Singapore but in the United States, Europe and various Asian jurisdictions. Ren Jun Lim dispenses advice on the full range of healthcare matters, possessing expansive knowledge on the overlap of IP and regulatory issues. The side’s valuation capabilities mark it out from the crowd: it is currently the only law firm appointed to the panel of valuers for Singapore’s path-breaking IP Financing Scheme.

Bird & Bird LLP

A mainstay at the top of Singapore’s patent litigation table, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP is “recommended in the strongest possible terms” for work covering the whole of the patent lifecycle. The firm credits its contentious prowess to its across-the-board strength, which lets its lawyers draw on the skills of full-time in-house patent attorneys. Alban Kang is universally recognised as one of Singapore’s most outstanding patent litigators, a reputation hard-earned over 30 years of practice. “Knowledgeable, creative and flexible” Anan Sivananthan’s many years of experience as an in-house counsel for a patent-owning company really shine through: “Anan and his team fully understand the business objectives of the client, which is not always the case with other firms.” Senior patent attorney Hui Leng Tan handles prosecution from major clients both foreign and domestic.

Davies Collison Cave

The Singapore outpost of Australia’s leading patent attorney firm continues to make inroads into the market. Original drafting services are especially in-demand, with DCC’s international reputation helping it to attract plenty of work in that area. Thomas Griffiths is managing principal on the ground in Singapore, while the “very well regarded” Ken Simpson continues to contribute after returning to Melbourne. The small team was recently bolstered with two new local hires: PhD holders with expertise in life sciences and communications tech. “They only got a foothold here in the past several years, but they have established a reputation for high-quality work.”

Dentons

Dentons Rodyk is the Singapore arm of a full-service giant with a terrific reputation in the patent space. By drawing on its global network, the six-partner contingent in the Lion City can provide services across the whole IP lifecycle: creation, commercialisation, assertion, sale or securitisation and finally exit – an approach the firm abbreviates as ‘C-CASE’. Its light shines brightest in the litigation sphere, where courtroom dynamos Ai Ming Lee and Chai Chong Low are called on to contest the jurisdiction’s most important semiconductor and life sciences disputes. Chip firms Towa Corporation and GlobalFoundries, plus pharmaceuticals powerhouse Merck Sharp & Dohme are three contentious clients of particular note. Away from the limelight, the team works on M&A transactions involving significant IP components, leveraging the firm’s strong corporate practice.

Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP

For more than seven decades, Singapore’s oldest law partnership has been at the forefront of IP practice in the country. Today, Donaldson & Burkinshaw boasts the biggest patent attorney team among local firms, making it a major force in the drafting and prosecution market. “Their dedication, drive, high quality of work and responsiveness are highly commendable.” From 5G to fintech, semiconductors to software, the mechanical and electrical group led by partner Hubert Giam sees applications through to grant with aplomb. Partner Gary Chua brings years of in-house engineering and IP management experience to the group. “The team led by Gary has been exceptional from the get-go, devising strategies, executing them and getting results.”  The life sciences and chemical section is helmed by the “sharp and knowledgeable” Teck Yeow Lim – in addition to blue-chip drug companies, the group caters to big names from the food and beverage space. “The quality of the work that comes back from Teck Yeow and his team is always consistently high. They are meticulous, pay attention to details, and often go the extra mile to ensure that the clients’ queries are adequately addressed.” An integral part of that team is Eveline Angstetra, a patent attorney with a focus in immunology, pathology, cellular biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. “She is patient, meticulous and diligent – a very safe pair of hands.” The deep technical expertise within the team makes it well placed not just to secure patent rights, but also to provide invaluable advice on matters such as infringement and freedom to operate that could wind up in court.

Drew & Napier LLC

“They are the best IP lawyers I have ever worked with.” The venerable Drew & Napier LLC pairs a strong patent prosecution practice with a litigation side universally hailed as one of the market’s very best. “I sleep well at night knowing that Tony Yeo and Meryl Koh are at the wheel on Singapore IP matters,” one client says of the Big Four firm’s two leading contentious advocates. Yeo, “a gifted and tenacious litigator”, is the firm’s managing director for intellectual property. “He has bags of experience and a great instinct, which allows him to know exactly where to direct his efforts in the litigation process to achieve the best results. Added to that, Tony is an extremely hard worker and is dedicated to his clients. He is my number one go-to counsel in Singapore.” Koh, dual qualified in Australia and Singapore, also wins high praise. “In terms of her approach, she is thorough, details-oriented, and always well prepared. In terms of her advice and work product, it is crisp, pragmatic and commercial – clearly drawing on her years of experience.” The pair clearly make a dynamic duo: “Tony and Meryl provide sage IP advice on complex IP matters which are part of global litigation strategies. I trust their advice and they always bring fresh ideas and strategies to the table.” “You know they are giving 110% to everything they do for you.” Siau Wen Lim takes on both contentious and non-contentious IP briefs, but on the patent side it is her prosecution transactions work that stands out: “Siau Wen is a great business partner.” Another IP all-rounder is Yvonne Tang: “Yvonne’s team possess excellent attention to detail and a consistent approach which helps streamline cost-effective patent prosecution.”

Lee & Lee

Intellectual property is one of five cornerstone departments at full-service law group Lee & Lee. Tee Jim Tan SC put the firm on the map when it comes to patents, as one of only two senior counsel in Singapore with a specialty in trying IP cases. One of Tan’s recent triumphs was a patent infringement matter in which he successfully represented patent owner Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials at the High Court and Court of Appeal – the case continues in assessment of damages proceedings. The “efficient and well-informed” Yee Swan Boo is a key contact for patent prosecution. “We have always received high-quality services in a timely manner,” notes one overseas associate. Tech transfer maven Maurice Cheong maintains a bustling transactional practice.

Marks & Clerk

Only a few can compete with Marks & Clerk when it comes to locking down ironclad patent rights in Singapore. This multitalented and multilingual crew contributes six individuals to the prosecution table for 2021 based on their reputation as “highly professional, knowledgeable and helpful at all times”. Marks & Clerk’s service stands out for several reasons – its practitioners have all the information at hand, provide a thorough explanation of risks, dispense strategic advice, proactively arrange expert consultations and follow up with clients diligently. Engineering whizz Jim Greene-Kelly, who founded the office in 1995, is dual qualified in Singapore and the United Kingdom. In fact, almost all of the patent attorneys on the team are qualified in two or more jurisdictions. The “reliable” Daniel Poh “really makes our life easier”, say foreign associates. Poh oversees filings for big accounts, including Mastercard and Nitto Denko. Drawing on past practice experience from Europe and Japan, Gianfranco Matteucci is highly sought-after, particularly for biotech and chemical related briefs. One grateful client relates: “We initially instructed Gianfranco in Singapore only but now we ask him to initiate nationalisation of our PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty] applications in all Southeast Asian countries. He has been very easy and convenient to work with.” Matthew English tackles both drafting and prosecution work with aplomb – medical technology is a strong suit for the Trans-Tasman patent attorney. “Upasana Patel is knowledgeable and intelligent. She understands well the technical aspects of inventions and translates that well into patent language. She is solutions-oriented and successful not just in obtaining patents but in revoking third parties’ rights.” Rounding out the roster is Magdelene Ong, “a highly effective attorney with a robust technical background”. “With Marks & Clerk, I feel strongly that I have selected the best legal advice when it comes to patents.”

McLaughlin IP Pte Ltd

Quality over quantity is the mantra at McLaughlin IP Pte Ltd, a small prosecution shop run by founder Michael McLaughlin and senior associate Eric Lee. Working for a select group of clients allows the duo, along with several other associate attorneys, to deliver customised and details-oriented solutions to patent applicants. Colleagues who instruct McLaughlin laud the approach. “His work for my largest client has been excellent. What I really appreciate is the value-add that he provides. He understands that my client has business considerations that guide their patent filing strategy and he provides invaluable advice about how those business interests can be furthered by adapting the PCT applications to Singapore’s legal framework.” The nimble and responsive nature of McLaughlin IP makes it an ideal partner to high-flying start-ups just setting out on the path to patent protection. The firm has been working with Grabtaxi Holdings, Southeast Asia’s first ‘decacorn’, to create and manage a global patent portfolio, a collaboration that has resulted in a significant increase in drafting and filing.

Mirandah Asia

Twin firms Mirandah Asia and Mirandah Law combine to offer top-flight non-contentious and contentious regional IP services respectively. Mirandah Asia is home to a crack team of prosecution specialists composed of life sciences and chemistry PhDs, licensed engineers and ex-examiners. One standout is Juvelyn Cubilla, who takes her first bow in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. “Juvelyn is highly skilled in deciphering sometimes confusing and complex office actions and preparing strong responses with consideration to the strengths and weaknesses of the prior art. She is quick to grasp and understand technical details that might be overlooked if not for her strong technical capabilities in engineering and chemistry.” At Mirandah Law, Suhaimi Bin Lazim has built up a big book of business on the generics side of fierce pharmaceutical disputes. “Suhaimi knows the industry in general and our business needs in particular. He is practical and clear with advice and provides strong support during litigation – I know there is also a lot of technical and legal contribution coming from the firm in the background and he leverages that very well for us too.”

Spruson & Ferguson

The Singapore operation of Spruson & Ferguson is far from an outpost, it is a genuine regional hub. A staff of over 100, headlined by more than 30 patent attorneys, patent scientists and engineers, is responsible for more Singapore patent filings than any other firm. Spruson’s, which is part of Australian listed IPH Limited, is also the top agent for PCT filings in Singapore. Kristian Robinson steers the ship for the group’s largest Asian office, which also provides drafting and other services for nearby jurisdictions, including Malaysia and Indonesia. His own forte is in the biology and chemistry sides, and he holds a Trans-Tasman qualification. The firm has a strong practice on the engineering and information and communications technology side, while its chemical and life sciences client list is a who’s who of innovators. Maik Brinkmann and Soo Ee Lin form “probably the best biotech and pharma patent prosecution team in Singapore” in the estimation of one local practitioner. Lin also looks after the firm’s Malaysia practice, while Brinkmann holds European and German patent attorney credentials.

Viering, Jentschura & Partner

“They deliver value.” Colleagues and competitors agree that Viering, Jentschura & Partner LLP is a clear-cut choice for the gold tier of patent prosecution practices in Singapore. It is one of two Asian locations for the Munich-based outfit and Adam Bogsch is the man in charge. The team has a reputation for unparalleled technical and legal rigour. “We work with VJP especially for our most difficult cases.” European patent attorney Bogsch and Australia-qualified Michael Koch exemplifies the side’s ability to cater to patent filers with a global focus. “They are eminently qualified and have the international point of view to work with an international client base across jurisdictions.” Partner and Singapore patent attorney Gerald Koh is feted for his biotech expertise and holds legal qualifications in Singapore and England & Wales. Audrey Goh has in-house engineering experience with a major semiconductor company and comes highly recommended for non-contentious work in the sector.

WongPartnership LLP

Full-service juggernaut WongPartnership LLP stands out for its strong commercial focus, making it a natural choice for patent matters with a distinct transactional bent. The top IP lawyer there is the “well-respected” Chung Nian Lam  who “provides high quality guidance to clients and is always conscious of their financial circumstance”. A patent attorney whose remit also extends to areas like data protection, cyber security and fintech, Lam knows his way around IP franchising and licensing deals like few others. Operating across various high-tech domains, he is firmly grounded in the patent world, serving as vice chair of the Asian Patent Attorney Association’s Singapore chapter.

Other recommended experts

Orion IP is led by mechanical engineer Ron Awyong, who partners with clients to match their IP strategy with their business goals. PhD holder in DNA replication and a life sciences expert, Chong-Yee Khoo plies his trade at Cantab IP. Leading the IP department at Big Four firm Rajah & Tann Asia is Kok-Keng Lau, a litigator with specialisms in the sports, media and gaming industries. Renowned high-tech litigator Daniel Lim goes toe-to-toe with the best in the business, working out of Joyce A Tan & Partners LLC. Jevon Louis is the partner in charge of intellectual property at Shook Lin & Bok LLP. “They are very cost competitive and accommodate client requests on cost and scope of work as needed. The quality of their service is excellent.” Desmond Tan is the solo Singapore representative of Australia-based FPA Patent Attorneys and president of the Association of Singapore Patent Attorneys. “We deeply appreciate his ability to take very complex technical concepts and craft very strong patents. His turnaround of the patents is extremely quick and he takes the effort to gain his own understanding of the subject matter so that his patent will be stronger. We have recommended him to countless suppliers, clients and partners and it has been a consistent and resounding approval of his good work by everyone.”

Individuals: litigation

  • Alban Kang - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Stanley Lai SC - Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Tee Jim Tan SC - Lee & Lee
  • Tony Yeo - Drew & Napier LLC
  • Jason Chan - Amica Law LLC
  • Meryl Koh - Drew & Napier LLC
  • Andy Leck - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Daniel Lim - Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC
  • Jevon Louis - Shook Lin & Bok LLP
  • Chai Chong Low - Dentons
  • Anan Sivananthan - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Kok-Keng Lau - Rajah & Tann, Singapore
  • Suhaimi Bin Lazim - Mirandah Asia
  • Melvin Pang - Amica Law LLC

Individuals: prosecution

  • Adam Bogsch - Viering, Jentschura & Partner
  • Gianfranco Matteucci - Marks & Clerk
  • Michael McLaughlin - McLaughlin IP Pte Ltd
  • Daniel Poh - Marks & Clerk
  • Yee Swan Boo - Lee & Lee
  • Maik Brinkmann - Spruson & Ferguson
  • Matthew English - Marks & Clerk
  • Hubert Giam - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Audrey Goh - Viering, Jentschura & Partner
  • Jim Greene-Kelly - Marks & Clerk
  • Chong-Yee Khoo - Cantab IP
  • Michael Koch - Viering, Jentschura & Partner
  • Gerald Koh - Viering, Jentschura & Partner
  • Siau Wen Lim - Drew & Napier LLC
  • Teck Yeow Lim - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Pei Lin Low - Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Kristian Robinson - Spruson & Ferguson
  • Abe Sun - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Yvonne Tang - Drew & Napier LLC
  • Winnie Tham - Amica Law LLC
  • Eveline Angstetra - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Ron Awyong - Orion IP
  • Gary Chua - Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP
  • Juvelyn Cubilla - Mirandah Asia
  • Edmund Kok - Amica Law LLC
  • Chung Nian Lam - WongPartnership LLP
  • Soo Ee Lin - Spruson & Ferguson
  • Magdelene Ong - Marks & Clerk
  • Upasana Patel - Marks & Clerk
  • Ken Simpson - Davies Collison Cave
  • Desmond Tan - FPA Patent Attorneys
  • Hui Leng Tan - Bird & Bird LLP

Individuals: transactions

  • Maurice Cheong - Lee & Lee
  • Chung Nian Lam - WongPartnership LLP
  • Tham Kok Leong - Allen & Gledhill LLP
  • Ren Jun Lim - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Siau Wen Lim - Drew & Napier LLC
  • Jevon Louis - Shook Lin & Bok LLP
  • Anan Sivananthan - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Abe Sun - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Yvonne Tang - Drew & Napier LLC

Luminaries

  • Ai Ming Lee - Dentons