Han Kun Law Offices
What are the key factors to consider when leading a top-class full-service IP team?
As the leader of a full-service IP team with 100-plus professionals, my most important job is to create a healthy ecosystem that attracts talent and helps people to realise their full potential. This is achieved in the following ways:
- Appeal to people who are more skilled than I am – everyone has limits, and it would be impossible for me to outperform everyone else in every area. As the team leader, I cannot let my personal limits and pride hinder the development of the team. I am always trying to bring onboard new, stronger talent to ensure first-class legal services in a full spectrum of IP sectors. By working closely as a team, we can achieve many goals beyond individual capacity.
- Diversify practices – we have established several IP practice groups, focusing on areas such as IP dispute resolution, patent prosecution, trademark prosecution and cybersecurity. We encourage members to discover their true talents through work rotations and offer career advice based on individuals’ skill sets and personalities.
- Cultivate the younger generations – the future of this team will ultimately be decided by the younger generations. We have designed a sophisticated mentor-trainee system to improve the professional skills of young associates and interns, and to create stronger personal bonds among team members. I have also spearheaded a youth leadership programme, which aims to help more senior members to establish their own careers and set an example for others.
How do you help multinational clients to navigate the ever-evolving IP protection landscape in China?
The key is to understand your client and help them to understand China. The foremost issue on a multinational client’s mind is lack of knowledge about the unfamiliar Chinese system and limited resources when it comes to locating a trustworthy partner – particularly with global tensions rising and China’s IP legal framework evolving rapidly. My experience in both the United States and China helps to bridge the gap and ensure effective communication with clients. We provide timely updates about changes in Chinese IP policies, alongside practical recommendations that best address client concerns.
How has your experience as a litigator and in-house in the United Stated benefitted your practice in China?
The US component of my career has shaped who I am today. With IP litigation – in particular SEP/FRAND-related disputes – increasing in China, a thorough understanding of US proceedings and underlying legal issues helps to devise strategies that avoid conflict and establish synergy across jurisdictions. While in-house experience in general helps a private practitioner to better understand their clients, experience at a leading multinational in the chip industry has provided me with better insights into the ICT sector, as well as legal issues relating to SEP and antitrust matters. Another key takeaway from my in-house days has been to provide legal solutions that address clients’ business goals, which often outweigh the legal goals.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Solving clients’ problems and helping young talent to achieve their career goals. Multinationals are increasingly facing crises arising from global IP disputes, where injunctions including anti-suit injunctions and preliminary injunctions are becoming more prevalent. Han Kun is well equipped to help resolve these issues by providing a complete package, which includes media campaigns and other approaches, rather than merely legal solutions. Another rewarding aspect of the job is helping young talent to grow. Young partners and counsel at Han Kun are invaluable treasures to the team and it has been a pleasure to see them develop the skills to litigate high-profile cases on their own.
What are some of the most noteworthy developments in Chinese IP practice that rights holders should be monitoring?
Both legislators and judges are introducing reforms to try to establish an IP litigation system that adopts the positive aspects of the US and European systems. This includes the introduction of a separate claim construction session for civil infringement cases and patent invalidation proceedings. Previously, the claim construction was often mixed with other parts of the proceedings, with no clear conclusion. In a bifurcated system like China’s, this change has the potential to apply different standards. It will be interesting to observe how the courts and the China National IP Administration reconcile this matter. Another recent development has been the cross-examination of experts with respect to technical issues in certain courts, mimicking US trials. We expect this to be adopted more widely, which could lead to significant changes to case preparations.
Yan Wang is chair of Han Kun Law Offices’ IP and litigation departments, which comprise more than 100 practitioners. He focuses on contentious IP law practice in China and has worked on a variety of disputes relating to patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, data rights, standard-related IP issues and antitrust cases. Mr Wang is highly regarded for his proven track record handling complex disputes, particularly in cases involving public and government relations crisis management situations.