Singapore

This year is slated to be a big one for Singapore, with its candidate Daren Tang officially nominated as the next director general of WIPO and Alfred Yip elected vice chair for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents. But then last year was hardly quiet either. Following the new Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence implemented by the IP Office of Singapore (IPOS) to grant AI-related patent applications in only six months, Alibaba Group quickly broke the world record with an AI patent granted by IPOS in three months, instead of the usual two to four years. IPOS also launched new initiatives with Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) IP offices to prioritise Industry 4.0 patent applications in key emerging technologies such as fintech, cybersecurity and robotics. While the Mediation Promotion Scheme was extended and enhanced to boost Singapore’s status as an IP dispute resolution hub, a new IP insurance initiative was also rolled out to support global market entry. Little wonder then that the Lion City continues to retain the top spot for Asia in the International Property Rights Index 2019 report and ascend a notch to fourth place among 129 countries. Following the closure of the Foreign Reliance Route in 2020 – under which patent applications filed in Singapore avoided local substantive examination if they were already approved in select jurisdictions – the prosecution table in this chapter now reflects the greater significance placed on technical expertise within patent and law firms.

Firms: litigation

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

Firms: prosecution

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

Firms: transactions

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

Allen & Gledhill LLP

“Very experienced and competent,” practitioners at Allen & Gledhill come highly recommended by clients: “They respond to our queries promptly and suggest different approaches or counter-propose solutions in the agreement drafting and negotiation process, which helps to resolve technical issues and moves the discussion forward.” “I wholeheartedly recommend the firm for impactful IP work. They are often our stepping-off point in Singapore to a wider network of trusted overseas associates.” Highly sought after for holistic advice, the side boasts a well-rounded team with Stanley Lai SC, Pei Lin Low and Tham Kok Leong the three pinnacles of patent litigation, prosecution and transactions, delivering cradle-to-grave IP services. Armed with a wealth of experience in all kinds of patent disputes, star litigator Lai had represented Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in multi-jurisdictional patent infringement actions. Low leads the highly qualified patent prosecution group, which manages massive patent portfolios for famous local and foreign entities. “Pei Lin understands that small businesses need to operate within modest budgets, so she endeavours to give clarity around timelines, activities and estimated costs to achieve targeted outcome.” She is closely supported by Tan Hiang Teik, “an excellent patent attorney who quickly grasps the details around emerging technologies”. For transactional matters, Tham advises companies across industries on their multi-million-dollar licensing deals and conducts stand-out IP due diligence searches.

Amica Law LLC

Tasked by a line-up of prestigious patrons to provide the full suite of patent services, Amica Law LLC is a “leading IP firm actively involved in the IP profession”. Not only is the IP boutique recognised by peers for its superior patent prosecution capabilities, it is well known among foreign associates for its “professionalism and attention to detail”. Besides filing and drafting the most commercially vital patents for multinationals and local higher education institutions, the team of 21 is acting for Pfizer Private Limited in a patent invalidation case at the High Court. “Competent and experienced”, Winnie Tham takes charge of the prosecution and strategy practice with support from Edmund Kok, who is “good at prosecution and patent licensing”. Meanwhile, Jason Chan – who was recently appointed to the IP Adjudicators Panel in Singapore – is in court to represent Element Six Technologies Limited in a patent infringement suit before the High Court.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

For “practical ideas and effective advice”, domestic and foreign multinationals need look no further than Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. Through the full-service law firm’s extensive global network, the local team of 13 covers a broad spectrum of technical fields, with highly complex technology and software a particular strength. Not only does it enjoy the status of being the only law firm appointed by IPOS on the IP Financing Scheme for IP valuers, it also tends to the multi-jurisdictional needs of a covetable list of financial institutions and government entities. The versatile side is headlined by Andy Leck, Abe Sun and Ren Jun Lim, who hold the fort from a litigation, prosecution and transactions perspective, respectively. With more than two decades of experience under his belt, captain of the IP department Leck continues to dole out legal advice to clients facing potential patent disputes. A fan favourite, Sun is the go-to for global patent protection and filing strategies. “His passion for patents, together with his continued effort to obtain the best protection for our innovations in the most cost-effective manner and with only our best interests in mind, is why we continue to instruct the firm for patent matters. Abe is always reachable at any time of the day, and he can speak the same language as our researchers because of his extensive experience in AI and software.” Making his first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000 this year, Lim comes highly recommended by his client for “valuable feedback and out of the box but practical ideas and workaround”. He is involved in a variety of matters, including negotiating licence agreements and advising on patent linkage issues.

Bird & Bird ATMD LLP

Sitting comfortably at the apex of the litigation firm table, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP is the sure-fire choice for clients keen to secure wins in court – the team recently succeeded in revoking patents against Hitachi and Mitsubishi, and emerged victorious in a High Court suit for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. With gold-rated litigator Alban Kang at the wheel of the litigation practice, neither domestic nor foreign companies need fear patent disputes. He applies “sharp advocacy skills” to all sorts of contentious patent matters in Singapore and overseas, as well as managing global patent portfolios for a substantial local fan base, which is unsurprising as the firm is “able to gain the trust of clients through thoughtful and consistent counselling to guide them through difficult litigation and business decisions”. Taking her first bow in the *IAM Patent 1000* this year, Hui Leng Tan worked closely with Kang to defend B Braun Melsungen AG in a patent infringement claim. Foreign associates describe the life sciences specialist as “responsive and very knowledgeable in patent matters”. Her colleague Anan Sivananthan is a trusted adviser to clients embroiled in patent suits. “He provides overall strategic guidance and direction to clients seeking to enforce their intellectual property and guidance on international strategies.”

Davies Collison Cave 

After establishing a strong foundation for Davies Collison Cave’s Singapore practice, Trans-Tasman patent attorney and managing principal Ross Clark has returned to the Melbourne Office. Nonetheless, the Australian patent firm remains a significant player in Singapore’s patent prosecution space. Supported by large and highly technical teams in Australia and New Zealand, the local ensemble acts as a gateway for clients seeking to protect their patents in Southeast Asia. Among its prestigious clientele is the governmental research organisation, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), for which it is advising on patent strategy and prosecution across multiple jurisdictions. Newly promoted principal Ken Simpson is a software and computer technology specialist, who is registered in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Dentons Rodyk

Gold-ranked in patent litigation, Dentons Rodyk is the destination of choice for multinationals embroiled in transnational patent litigation proceedings. With the “competent and experienced” Ai Ming Lee at the wheel, its booming patent contentious practice has been involved in multiple high-profile court cases for an enviable list of clients. The only luminary ranked in the Singapore chapter has spent over three decades of her career resolving patent disputes. Her right-hand man Chai Chong Low further bolsters the firm’s litigation offering. Besides representing Towa Corporation in a high-damages patent infringement suit at the Court of Appeal, the pair are also busy acting for pharmaceutical companies such as Bristol-Myers and Merck Sharp & Dohme in patent linkage-related matters, as well as defending GlobalFoundries Singapore in five ongoing infringement suits against TSMC.

Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP

A mainstay in Singapore’s patent scene, Donaldson & Burkinshaw LLP – or DonBurk – is a trustworthy choice for clients seeking “thorough analyses and a critical commercial viewpoint” for their patent problems. Home to the largest patent attorney group among local law firms, the well-established full-service side is captained by astute IP veterans Teck Yeow Lim and Hubert Giam. The formidable duo recently added two to their already substantial ensemble of eight technically qualified patent attorneys. Through close collaboration between patent agents and IP lawyers, they draft and file patents for a pre-eminent list of multinationals and local institutes – not only are they the exclusive patent agent for an industry leader in semiconductors, they have been appointed to the IP panels of various government-backed research and higher education institutes, including the National University of Singapore. DonBurk is undoubtedly leading the way for local law firms keen to compete with traditional patent outfits and it is more than ready to take on the latest round of patent reforms. Little wonder that it receives the most effusive praise in this chapter from happy local clients. “They possess experience and centricity throughout their services, which include the professional technical and soft skills needed, as well as proactivity in empathising with our business circumstances.” “Besides providing excellent support for our patent filing and prosecution, their advice is clear and concise. We require our attorneys to be familiar with the vagaries of patent laws in various jurisdictions, on top of being well versed across a wide scope of technologies. DonBurk delivers on that. They are highly responsive and willing to engage closely with the researchers too.” Buoyed by fervent feedback, Eveline Angstetra and Gary Chua make their first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000. A life sciences specialist, Angstetra holds a PhD in immunology. “Eveline is a highly technically qualified patent attorney and a clear communicator, who is detail oriented.” “Meticulous in drafting, Eveline sees to the completion of work responsibly. This includes liaising with overseas associates late in the night to ensure that instructed timelines and necessary procedures are adhered to. Intelligent and engaging, she provides pre-emptive advice and appreciates situations quickly to resolve matters swiftly.” Exceptional throughout his patent work, Chua is an electrical engineer who previously led the IP group of a Japanese research centre in Singapore. “Very diligent and honest in his work, he always makes sure that his clients understand the bigger picture of getting a patent and developing a patent strategy. He can engage quite deeply with the inventors both technically and commercially in developing a sound IP strategy. We used to have several healthy debates and I would always learn something new from him.”

Drew & Napier LLC

“Drew & Napier LLC is in a league above the rest. Standing head and shoulders above the competition, the team takes time to understand the client’s needs and tailor its advice to fit their business objective. I have been very impressed by their breadth of legal knowledge beyond intellectual property.” Besides handling 20% of all filing and drafting work in Singapore, the full-service law firm renders a potent A-Z patent service, with a “highly respected litigation practice throughout Southeast Asia”. With a substantial team of 124 “very hardworking, meticulous and excellent strategists” in the IP department, it ably covers a comprehensive range of technical areas. “Not only are they the best in their field, these subject matter experts are responsive and commercially savvy.” The shining gem in the ensemble is Tony Yeo. “One of the most respected litigators in town”, the star player recently joined other distinguished IP legal experts on the IPOS IP Adjudicators Panel. With his colleague Meryl Koh, Yeo is representing Ila Technologies in a patent infringement suit. “Tony and Meryl are the attorneys to have on speed dial when a complex IP issue arises and you want pragmatic legal advice.” On the non-contentious front, Yvonne Tang and Siau Wen Lim tend to the global IP portfolios of foreign and local multinationals. As certified IP valuation analysts, they are also the best lawyers to consult about IP commercialisation.

Lee & Lee

Co-founded by the late Lee Kuan Yew, Lee & Lee has a longstanding legacy in the local IP field. As a general law firm, it draws together its diverse practice areas to offer the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious patent services to a prestigious list of local statutory boards. Having been involved in numerous key litigation cases, Tee Jim Tan SC steps into the spotlight for patent disputes, while Yee Swan Boo takes point for patent prosecution matters – she assists a diverse range of clients in Singapore and abroad. Over in transactions, Maurice Cheong dispenses advice to local higher education institutions on patent licensing and IP assignments.

Marks & Clerk

Commanding the highest number of ranked individuals in the Singapore chapter, Marks & Clerk is a clear market leader in the country’s patent prosecution sphere. Distinguished by the largest team of internationally qualified patent attorneys in Southeast Asia – almost all 16 are qualified in two or more jurisdictions – the group draws on two decades of experience in the city state to tend to the drafting and filing needs of famous foreign and local entities. By working closely with its global offices to prosecute patents around the world, the patent firm has come to be known for its “high work quality, responsiveness and understanding of clients’ needs”. As founding partner, Jim Greene-Kelly is the mastermind behind the Singapore office’s success. Polyglot Gianfranco Matteucci joined him in 2003 and Trans-Tasman patent attorney Matthew English a year later. A whizz at executing global prosecution strategies, Matteucci brought with him a wealth of patent experience in Europe and Japan, while English has research experience at a listed Australian company. At the pinnacle of the prosecution individuals table, Daniel Poh enjoys a fantastic reputation among peers, who describe him as “a lovely guy who has always been a gentleman”. “He has a very good grasp of concepts and I’ve learnt a lot from him.” Magdelene Ong and Upasana Patel may be new faces in the IAM Patent 1000, but they are recognised by colleagues to be “highly competent in patent prosecution, with strong technical background”. A chemical engineer, Ong garners fervent praise from her foreign associate: “From the very beginning, I was highly impressed not only with Magdelene’s personable nature, but her attention to detail. Not only is she extremely skilled with complex subject matters, she is highly reliable and competent. It has been an honour and pleasure to work with her and her team.” Also dual-qualified in Singapore and the United Kingdom, Patel is managing Lam Research’s entire Singapore portfolio.

McLaughlin IP Pte Ltd

Making its sophomore appearance in the IAM Patent 1000, McLaughlin IP may be pocket-sized, but it is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to patent prosecution matters. With Michael McLaughlin at the helm, the firm has been drafting and filing patents – particularly in the electrical, mechanical engineering and software fields – for well-known companies and higher education institutes, including Alibaba, Grabtaxi and the Nanyang Technological University. With steady growth and satisfied clients, it recently moved to a larger office in the city centre. “What is special about McLaughlin IP is that you get big firm quality but with a small firm price tag.” “They take the initiative to proactively advise on possible issues and/or actions that can be taken for cases that are out of the norm.” Praised by peers as an excellent patent practitioner, McLaughlin previously trained in London. Foreign associates enjoy working with him too: “He provides both excellent technical and customer-oriented services.” “Michael is our go-to guy for complicated software or electronics patents in Singapore. He completely understands the technology and is fantastic at putting together legal arguments to get cases granted quickly.” He is supported by electrical engineer and optoelectronics specialist Eric Lee. “Efficient, meticulous and highly accurate in his work, Eric is approachable and can be easily reached via phone for brief queries.”

Mirandah Asia

Through the prosecution and legal arms of Mirandah Asia and Mirandah Law, respectively, the group provides the full gamut of patent services to clients across industries. Notable for a substantial ASEAN footprint and highly qualified chemistry and life science specialists, the two entities collaborate closely on contentious and non-contentious patent matters via 30 technical specialists stationed in six outposts and a legal team of six, who are responsible for filing patents in the region. It recently established a highly technical unit to tend to patent drafting needs, following Singapore’s patent reforms. Lately a familiar face in pharmaceutical regulatory matters, Suhaimi Bin Lazim makes his sophomore appearance in the patent litigation table of the IAM Patent 1000. He has established a niche in generic medical patents and patent infringement suits related to the patent-linkage regime and is representing Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Pharmaceuticals in a handful of cases against the likes of Pfizer and Advagen Pte Ltd. “Suhaimi meets our criteria rather well – besides being knowledgeable about the industry and our business, he is quick to respond with clear and on-point advice and recommendations. He provides strong litigation support and general advice.”

Ravindran Associates LLP

Despite the departure of Jevon Louis, Ravindran Associates LLP continues to hold its own in the local patent market. Supported by a compact but highly experienced team, the IP boutique features most strongly in the contentious space. With more than two decades’ experience acting in notable court cases, founder Ravi Ravindran boasts an enviable track record.

Spruson & Ferguson (Asia) Pte Ltd

“Spruson & Ferguson is a unique firm that thinks globally about IP matters and how things can affect local IP issues. Armed with a great breadth of experience, its dual-qualified Singapore and US, European or Australian IP attorneys can apply their international experience to the Singapore stage and help clients to build an effective IP strategy. They are a great team and I can sleep soundly knowing that they are handling our IP matters in the region.” With Kristian Robinson keeping a watchful eye over a growing group of more than 30 patent professionals, the patent firm clinched the top position with the highest number of patents and Patent Cooperation Treaty applications filed in Singapore in 2018. Alongside European patent attorney Maik Brinkmann, IAM Patent 1000 newcomer and PhD holder in enzymology Soo Ee Lin is “the best for biotech and pharma patent prosecution matters in Singapore”.

Viering, Jentschura & Partner

Well loved by clients and foreign associates alike, Viering, Jentschura & Partner LLP has “proven expertise and professionalism” in a comprehensive set of patent services. The pre-eminent Munich-based prosecution powerhouse has a laser focus on drafting original patent specifications, slated for prosecution across the ASEAN region and in Europe. With one of the largest patent teams in Singapore – 20 professionals are on hand to cover a broad spectrum of technical fields – it works closely with local prestigious education institutes, which can expect “very enjoyable cooperation” with the “efficient and professional” set. “We have tried many patent firms for drafting work, but many do not meet our stringent requirements for quality and timely work like VJP does.” “They’ve exceeded our expectations – they are very thorough, meticulous and proactive in anticipating patent issues.” Adam Bogsch captains the side, supported by semiconductor specialists Michael Koch and Audrey Goh, as well as Gerald Koh for biotech matters.

WongPartnership LLP

“Strong corporate practice” WongPartnership LLP shines brightest in the IP transactions space. Through an integrated and holistic patent team made up of multidisciplinary IP lawyers, the full-service law firm ensures that clients have their IP arrangements in order and patent prosecution needs met by coordinating the drafting process with the most appropriate technically skilled patent attorneys. “The best in Singapore and the region,” Chung Nian Lam is an IP transactions maestro. One foreign associate further comments: “I’ve known him for many years. He’s a very well-known and highly thought of IP lawyer in Singapore – he’s my go-to person if I have anything there.”

Other recommended experts

Mechanical engineer Ron Awyong helps businesses to align their IP needs with business goals at Orion IP. After being affiliated with Canadian law firm Gowling WLG, Sheena Jacob has joined CMS Holborn Asia with her team of “highly skilled, extremely professional, knowledgeable, creative and responsive” practitioners. A foreign associate has high praise for the IP veteran: “Sheena handled a very difficult call with the client’s general counsel extremely well and I was most impressed by how she read the client and steered them towards a sensible conclusion.” Heading Cantab IP is “the best attorney in Singapore”, Chong-Yee Khoo. Besides laying claim to being the first Singapore patent attorney qualified by examination, Khoo is also qualified in the United Kingdom and at the EPO. Jonathan Kok recently swapped RHTLaw Asia for international law firm Withers KhattarWong LLP. Rajah & Tann Asia’s Kok-Keng Lau joins the IAM Patent 1000 this year on the back of effusive praise from foreign associates; with nearly three decades’ experience under his belt and as one of the few local specialists in the gaming industry, he offers “technically sound advice while meeting extremely tight deadlines”. Alongside partner Nicholas Lauw and senior associate Leow Jiamin, he gives confidence to his clients by being “thoroughly knowledgeable on all IP issues and having an in-depth understanding of client needs when protecting patents in ASEAN”. With his “sharp legal acumen”, Daniel Lim resolves patent disputes for technology clients at Joyce A Tan & Partners. Jevon Louis now captains the IP practice at full-service law firm Shook Lin & Bok LLP after leaving Ravindran & Associates in June 2019. His practice continues to focus on dispute resolution, with an increasing volume of cross-jurisdictional corporate and transactional matters. Besides serving as vice president of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Singapore, Regina Quek leads One Legal LLC’s patent prosecution practice. Desmond Tan from FPA Patent Attorneys takes his first bow in the 2020 IAM Patent 1000 following enthusiastic client references. The current president of the Association of Singapore Patent Attorneys previously worked in-house at Creative Technology, so “he is aware of the commercial consequences when providing IP guidance”. “Not only does he ensure the best possible outcome from both legal and commercial perspectives, he keeps himself accountable and will not skirt any issue that may arise.”

Individuals: litigation

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

Individuals: prosecution

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

Individuals: transactions

  • Maurice Cheong - Lee & Lee
  • Sheena Jacob - CMS Holborn Asia
  • Jonathan Kok - Withers KhattarWong LLP
  • 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 ATMD LLP
  • Abe Sun - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
  • Yvonne Tang - Drew & Napier LLC

Luminaries

  • Ai Ming Lee - Dentons Rodyk