China and SARs: China: Domestic

China has had an exciting year and new changes are poised to take the country to even greater heights. The most prolific filer at the EUIPO, the country will soon overtake the United States in foreign trademark applications; in 2018 it represented 70% of marks filed worldwide, contributing to an overall number that is climbing closer to 7 million. The China National IP Association (CNIPA) also recorded the highest volume of filing activity and the second highest annual growth. Refusing to overlook the country’s significance in the global IP landscape, the government is making strides to improve the system for rights holders. In his keynote speech at G20, President Xi Jinping announced a hard-line approach to IP theft, whereby new amendments to the Chinese Trademark Law (coming into effect on 1 November 2019) will take a two-pronged approach to prevent malicious applications and infringement. Respectively, the amendments will crack down on bad-faith filings by emphasising use of registered trademarks, while infringers can expect maximum statutory damages to increase by two-thirds to Rmb5 million and punitive damages by one to five times. The burden of proof could also be shifted from the plaintiff to the defendant. As heavier penalties of up to Rmb30 million are proposed for counterfeit vaccines, trademark application fees have already been reduced by up to 90% or removed entirely if the application is submitted electronically. It remains to be seen how these positive changes affect China’s position as one of the biggest trademark filers in the world, especially in light of the ongoing US-China trade war.

Firms: prosecution and strategy

Advance China IP Law Office

A favourite among foreign law firms, Advance China IP Law Office has grown rapidly in the past two decades. The trademark team has almost doubled in size to 150, yet continues to provide “meticulous and in-depth trademark prosecution services”. From its Guangzhou headquarters and 12 other offices, the group offers “sensible and helpful input” on trademark portfolio management to domestic giants such as Huawei, Tencent and Oppo, as well as famous global brands such as Shiseido and Hyundai. “One of the top 10 IP litigators in Guangdong,” Steven Li is the one to call for contentious matters, while Lucy Zheng takes charge of the international trademark department. One to watch is Vicky Nie, who is described as “responsive and business-oriented, an efficient and devoted trademark attorney, who provides outside-the-box solutions”.

AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office 

Backed by fantastic feedback from long-time foreign associates, AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office is rising up the ranks in the prosecution and strategy table. As the “go-to firm for Chinese IP advice”, it provides “high-quality advice at a reasonable cost” through 150 professionals stationed in Beijing and supported by an outpost in Maryland – clients appreciate their sincerity and “extra service in trademark counselling”. With her flawless English, president Xia Zheng is “always reliable, extremely responsive, extraordinarily competent and knowledgeable”, provides “legally and economically sound and profound advice” and is guaranteed to be on hand to resolve all types of trademark matter.

AnJie Law Firm

Full-service AnJie Law Firm is expanding its IP offering by breaking into the trade secret practice area, while continuing to add to its expertise with new hires – including WTR 1000 newcomer and former chief IP counsel at Honeywell Asia-Pacific Jerry Xia, as well as a former Shanghai Higher People’s Court judge. The team of 35 is a favourite among luxury brands such as CELINE and Hugo Boss – for the latter, it has successfully obtained 271 favourable decisions, 15 of which recognised BOSS as a well-known mark. As well as having superb skills in the patent space, Jing He is equally impressive in resolving trademark problems. Alongside IP litigator Steve Zhao, he currently represents Universal City Studio LLC and Ali Entertainment Group in trademark licensing matters.

Beijing East IP Ltd/Beijing East IP Law Firm 

Working tirelessly to deliver solid results, Beijing East IP Ltd delivers on the full spectrum of trademark matters in an “efficient and cost-effective manner”. Established by the founding commissioner of the former State IP Office of China, the IP boutique offers “clear and detailed advice” on trademark prosecution to an enviable list of Fortune 500 companies, including Tesla, Align Technology and WhatsApp Inc. “An excellent partner” to businesses and foreign associates, the team of more than 30 trademark attorneys and Chinese attorneys at law ensures that famous global marks obtain well-known status and are enforceable in China – high-profile cases have included putting invalidations to rest on behalf of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Managing partner Jason Wang keeps a keen eye on the latest in IP strategy, while IP litigator Yan Zhang takes enforcement to the courts, having recently defended Facebook against bad-faith filers at the Beijing IP Court and enforced Carl Freudenberg KG’s IP rights at the Beijing High Court.

Beijing Janlea Trademark Agency & Co

Beijing Janlea Trademark Agency & Co has been brought up spontaneously by foreign associates who enjoy working with the firm on prosecution matters. Elected as the vice president company of the China Trademark Association in 2019 for the fourth time, the agency is a trusted partner to domestic and foreign businesses alike, including Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group Company and Budweiser Harbin Beer. With two decades’ experience in the trademark industry, Joanne Jiao continues to prosecute outgoing trademark applications with Emily Cai. “Very knowledgeable” trademark attorney, WTR 1000 debutant Regina Feng draws on another 20 years of experience to provide “practical, strategic advice on prosecution matters”.

Beijing Sanyou Intellectual Property Agency Ltd 

The first private IP firm in China, Beijing Sanyou Intellectual Property Agency Ltd is as effective in the trademark space as it is in patents. Counting domestic companies such as Yili Group and well-known foreign brands such as Honda, LG Group and British Telecom among its clientele, the firm was recently recognised as a China Excellent Trademark Agency by the China Trademark Association. Clients are “always left satisfied with the service” provided by the growing team, which comprises former trademark examiners with foreign language skills in Japanese and Korean. Nearly two decades into her career in intellectual property, Lena Shen does “a wonderful job” of captaining the trademark department. She is the chair of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property China trademark sub-committee. German-speaking WTR 1000 newcomer Yakai Shi is a hot name in IP dispute resolution, especially among foreign companies.

CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office 

Consistently topping the trademark prosecution and strategy table, CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office has a “large trademark filing practice, representing many international companies in China”. Not only is it one of the oldest and largest full-service IP practices, the pioneer in both the trademark and patent space was established through the merger of the only trademark agency in China until the mid-1980s and the first patent agency authorised to have cross-border representation. Recently, the firm added a new San Francisco office to its extensive network of representative offices in Tokyo, Munich, New York and Madrid. Gang Hu often appears before the Beijing IP Court and the Supreme People’s Court in administrative and civil litigation matters, including defending White Factory Holding, SLU against unfair trademark use. Deputy director of the legal division Aimin Huo sets his sights on trademark prosecution. Their colleague Yuncheng Li is a new face in the WTR 1000 this year. A popular choice among foreign companies, Li has recently been representing BPW against a bad faith filer at the Beijing IP Court.

Chang Tsi & Partners 

With one of the highest numbers of ranked individuals in the China: domestic chapter, it is easy to see how Chang Tsi & Partners has risen up the ranks to command the gold tier in both the prosecution and enforcement tables for the first time. Indeed, it is the target of fervent praise from top organisations around the world. “One of the finest firms in China with a well-earned reputation” and “work of the highest quality”, the team is “extremely knowledgeable, highly responsive and very thorough in its analysis and recommendations”. An “impeccable” choice for a host of leading companies in their respective industries, the outfit “perfectly grasps client goals and achieves the best possible results”. “I have had the privilege of working with several Chinese firms, but none have surpassed the quality of Chang Tsi & Partners. It is a top, world-class firm with outstanding skill and exceptional care and thoroughness.” Handling more than 2,000 trademark applications, 1,200 infringement cases and 200 raids a year, this one-stop shop is putting down new roots down in Taiwan, Hainan and Nanning even as its work in the commercial IP space ramps up. Husband and wife duo Simon Tsi and Spring Chang lead the side to ever-greater heights. An “outstanding” trademark lawyer, Chang is “highly competent and always provides clear and effective directions on complex issues”. For foreign associates, Lilian Qiu is the “strongly preferred IP counsel in China”, especially as she is “a very important partner in managing the most difficult matters for US companies, for which she has consistently delivered excellent advice and results”. Joining the enforcement and litigation table this year are Guangzhou-based Ason Zhang and Beijing-based Nancy Qu. Trusted adviser to various Fortune 500 brands, Zhang recently secured well-known trademark recognition for Johnson & Johnson and filed oppositions for Apple. Qu has achieved no small feats in the courtroom either, having represented Guinness World Records at the Guangdong Higher People’s Court, which ordered opponent Chery Automobile to cease trademark infringement activities and awarded Qu’s client double the punitive damages of Rmb2.12 million. Adding more wins to the firm’s scoresheet is Michael Fu, who recently represented 3M against Deli Group in a trademark infringement matter, culminating in compensation damages of Rmb1 million. “Very quick and precise,” WTR 1000 incomer Runjun Sun is the first point of contact for clients looking to build their global trademark portfolios. To round off the set, Chenyan Wu is “an exceptional trademark attorney, who is insightful, efficient and thorough”.

China Patent Agent (HK) Ltd

Entrusted with the massive trademark portfolios of numerous famous brands due to its “client-oriented and legally sound advice”, China Patent Agent excels in the prosecution space. Founded as one of the first Chinese IP agencies, it has since expanded to establish bases in major global cities such as New York, Tokyo and Munich, supported by 30 “proactive, responsive, diligent and hardworking” trademark attorneys who “look for ways to add value” to clients including Toei Animation and Wal-Mart. Deputy director of the China Trademark Association Hong Luo draws on more than 35 years of IP experience to counsel on IP strategy, with the support of WTR 1000 sophomore Justin Tao Jiang.

China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd

Bringing its patent prowess into the trademark space, China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd was among the first to be granted a special licence for foreign IP work by the State Council. To this end, the IP boutique has established outposts in Japan, Germany and the United States to seamlessly cover trademark issues around the world. Vice president Xinhua Wang is a good first port of call.

China Sinda Intellectual Property Ltd

Beijing-based China Sinda Intellectual Property “always provides practical advice” on trademark prosecution issues. A consistently “responsive” team stationed around the world in Washington DC, Tokyo, Munich and Singapore, with practitioners who are fluent in several foreign languages, ensures that the IP needs of every client are met. Jie Tian is a name for the address book.

Fangda Partners

Emerging in the gold tier of the enforcement and litigation table this year, Fangda Partners is the best at sweeping up wins in the high courts on behalf of famous global brands and carries the distinction of being the first in China to manage complex, multi-jurisdictional IP litigation suits. Not only does the IP team consist of 60 China and US-qualified lawyers who are adept in trademark matters across industries, it has recently been augmented by the addition of a former senior judge and two former senior examiners. Alexandra (Pu) Yang is the crème de la crème of Chinese IP litigators and is heavily involved in multiple high-profile disputes. With her counterpart, US-qualified Gordon Gao, she reduced a record-breaking Rmb98 million award to Rmb5 million on behalf of New Balance. The unstoppable pair also adopted a creative approach to collect evidence for Ralph Lauren to counter trademark squatters in more than 100 litigation proceedings and obtain Rmb70 million in damages. What is more, Yang defended Apple – for which she is the primary counsel in China – in a landmark trademark infringement matter. Another top IP litigator specialising in trademark disputes, Dixon Zhang has an excellent track record in representing foreign companies, having recently obtained a favourable decision for Metso Corporation at the Shanghai Pudong Court.

Ferrante Intellectual Property 

“Always at the forefront of Chinese IP development and jurisprudence, Ferrante Intellectual Property has a comprehensive understanding of the China market and different cultural backgrounds. It delivers results without compromising on the quality of work, offering solutions from a strategic perspective that considers both present business and legal landscapes, as well as future regulatory and market developments.” In addition to a particularly active anti-counterfeiting practice, the IP boutique offers the full range of trademark services to a predominantly European and US clientele, which appreciates the “personal approach with tailor-made solutions put forth by attorneys from multicultural backgrounds”. Founder Michele Ferrante is “an IP guru for the China market” with an “excellent reputation”. “Not only does he respond promptly and accurately to queries on IP rights enforcement and anti-counterfeiting strategies, he is commercially astute and provides a high level of service.” Head of the legal group James Wang is a new addition to the WTR 1000. Both practitioners were instrumental to obtaining favourable judgments for Consitex SA – the owner of Ermenegildo Zegna – in the Supreme People’s Court.

GoldenGate Lawyers

Established in 2007, Beijing-based GoldenGate Lawyers is a “high-end firm” that serves “large clients” through a team of “friendly lawyers with an excellent command of English”. It represented Ritz-Carlton in a trademark infringement matter in the Supreme Court in 2008 and Domino in a trademark criminal case in 2015. Founder Tim Meng and IP specialist Linda Zhao are names to have on speed dial.

HongFangLaw

A go-to firm in China for foreign associates, HongFangLaw enjoys a strong reputation for producing quality work that takes a “personal and creative approach to solve complex IP issues in China” at a competitive rate. Supported by offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the firm shines brightest in the contentious space, where it enforces trademarks for mostly foreign clients. A trusted litigator for Chevron Intellectual Property LLC, Nikita Xue garners fervent praise from foreign associates. “A great resource, Nikita is very responsive, efficient, cost-effective and strategic in her analysis.” “She is an excellent trademark attorney who has secured many great results in China because of her familiarity with the system.” Always on hand to meet with clients at IP seminars, Eric Su offers “diligent and effective legal services” to global businesses. Not only did he recently protect a 3D trademark owned by Diageo Brands and obtain Rmb300,000 as compensation, he also represented Amorepacific Corporation in a high-profile trademark infringement matter. Making his first appearance in the WTR 1000 this year, Xu Zhang assisted 3M with an effective anti-counterfeiting campaign.

IntellecPro 

A constant source of “clear and complete advice”, Beijing-based IntellecPro has handled 8,200 trademark matters over the past year, with nearly 1,300 of these being contentious. Although they already serve numerous foreign companies, including Entertainment One UK, Gopro and Heineken, the six trademark partners recently added three famous internet-based Chinese companies to their portfolios: Meituan-Dianping, Qihoo 360 and Kingsoft Corporation. Managing partner Qi Hu and Tian-ying Zhao make their debut in the WTR 1000 this year. Hu founded two other trademark practices in Chinese IP firms, before establishing IntellecPro in 1998, where he now focuses on trademark prosecution and unfair competition. Having lived in Canada for a decade, Zhao has a keen understanding of Western clients.

Jiaquan IP Law Firm

Guangzhou-based Jiaquan IP Law Firm makes its way into the WTR 1000 on the back of enthusiastic foreign feedback. The trademark practice is described as “highly responsive” with “knowledgeable and pragmatic advice”, as well as “quality deliverables”. Founded in 1987 as the Jiangmen Patent Office soon after China implemented its first patent laws, the firm was privatised in 2001 and has since established a firm grip on the South China region with seven offices across key cities. Its trademark prosecution clients include Lee Kum Kee and Decathlon. President Xinxue Yu is a key contact.

Jincheng Tongda & Neal

General law firm Jincheng Tongda & Neal’s “flexibility, especially in the inflexibility of Chinese authorities” has landed it a spot in the WTR 1000 for the first time. With more than 10 offices across the country, a Tokyo branch and close ties with the international legal community through participation in ADVOC and Lex Africa, the firm assures clients that any and all IP problems can be easily resolved domestically and around the world. Having worked with an illustrious set of foreign companies over the past 15 years, Clifford Chance alumnus Ying Zhang debuts in the prosecution and strategy table.

JunHe LLP

“Solution-oriented and cost-efficient,” JunHe LLP rises to the apex of the prosecution and strategy table this year with a gold-rated, “business-centric and client-focused” team that covers the complete range of trademark services. The full-service law firm ensures that marks are well-protected for clients including BMW and a global bank. In a rare feat, it recently obtained well-known status for Guangzhou Chime Long Group’s trademark in two classes. Gold-rated Qiang Ma has “the highest reputation” among peers, foreign associates and in-house counsel, especially for his “very commercial and proactive approach” and top-notch client skills. Patrons describe him as “creative, principled and having a good sense of humour”. He takes charge of the trademark department with Chumeng (Jessica) Xu. “Besides dispensing prompt, easily understood and quality strategic and commercial advice, Chumeng makes it easy to understand the complex Chinese trademark system by providing reliable guidance and keeping to deadlines.” Their partner, the “responsive and helpful” Tao Sun, “never disappoints”. “Very experienced in IP litigation, Tao always delivers good results.”

Kangxin Partners, PC 

Full-service IP law firm Kangxin Partners, PC draws on the expertise of 17 trademark attorneys fluent in Chinese, English and Japanese to impress an enviable list of foreign clients. With a system that adheres to the ISO standard and Six Sigma, the trusted partner of Christian Dior Couture and Carrefour ensures that its service is in tip-top shape and continuously strives to enhance its offerings, as evidenced by the launch of an AI-powered trademark service platform for clients. Having worked in Germany and Silicon Valley, managing partner Samson Gang Yu brings a cosmopolitan outlook to the group. Gold-rated IP strategist Gloria Q Wu is a “professional and well-known attorney” among foreign counterparts. When the captain of the trademark department is not managing 49 employees, she is writing about intellectual property for Chinese and international journals. Alongside Wu, Samiko Sun has been busy defending global businesses and obtaining well-known trademark statuses.

King & Wood Mallesons

“Red Circle” firm King & Wood Mallesons can rely on having one of the highest numbers of ranked individuals in the China: domestic chapter to extend its superb reputation in the legal field to the trademark scene. With an all-round IP practice that easily manages an A-Z of trademark matters for prestigious clients, the IP mainstay dominates in both the prosecution and enforcement space. In addition, it offers top-notch abilities in transactions, having recently advised on IP transfer and licence agreements for Baidu. Gold-rated trademark strategist Xiaoli Yang oversees more than 50 lawyers and trademark attorneys in the department, which includes former senior IP judges; she wins plaudits for her complex trademark prosecution work for an illustrious set of blue-chip clients, including Fujitsu, Ecco Asko A/S and Fast Retailing. On the enforcement side, star litigator Yusheng Shi was instrumental in representing Tesla in a trademark invalidation matter before the Beijing People’s High Court and in a high-stakes trademark infringement lawsuit for a domestic pharmaceutical company. Patent expert Zhongsheng Li is equally adept at enforcing trademarks. Fang He and Jing Xu break into the ranks of the enforcement and litigation table this year, after Fang brought a two-year trademark litigation dispute to an end and Xu successfully handled many complex trademark litigation suits, including obtaining a landmark decision on non-traditional marks for Christian Louboutin. In prosecution matters, Fei Liao advises on brand protection strategies and corporate trademark portfolio management. With 25 years of experience representing famous foreign brands, Jiuchu Lin recently obtained well-known trademark recognition for Yale University.

Lawjay Partners

A force to contend with in the contentious IP space, Lawjay Partners is a long-term partner of international law firms and well-known global brands. “Renowned for its expertise in dealing with luxury brands and winning cases thanks to a studied strategy,” the Beijing-headquartered IP outfit has been accumulating wins in the Shanghai High Court for a US luxury fashion house and representing Synlait Milk Ltd in passing-off suits, obtaining Rmb560,000 in damages. “Highly regarded as an excellent litigator who delivers results without cutting corners,” managing partner James Luo maintains the top position in the enforcement and litigation table for his sharpshooting skills in the courtroom.

LexField Law Offices 

Under the guidance of founding partner Jan Liu, LexField Law Offices has rapidly grown into one of the most trusted trademark advisers for some of the most famous brands in the world. Long-term clients from the Fortune 500 have come to expect quality service and a thorough knowledge of local laws from 40 trademark professionals, who are more than capable of formulating high-level strategies for brand protection in China. Not only has the outfit obtained numerous well-known trademark recognitions, it also has extensive experience advising on novel aspects of the law and industry, including e-commerce, where legislation was implemented only last year. Top trademark prosecutor and IP strategist Liu oversees the team, which further enhanced its capabilities recently with three new arrivals: former Beijing IP Court judge and WTR 1000 newcomer Liwei Jiang and two former in-house counsel – director of IP policy at ZTE Corporation Qishan Zhao and founder of Geely’s IP department Alex Liang. Geoffrey Zha draws on nearly two decades of experience in Chinese IP law to manage brands and prosecute trademarks for big-name clients. One of six Japanese-speaking attorneys, Wency Yu is qualified in New York and China, yet focuses on handling non-contentious matters for European companies.

Lifang & Partners

It has been a busy year for Lifang & Partners; not only did it establish a foreign legal consultant office in South Korea (the first Asian law firm to do so), it also opened new offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen while setting up a foreign-related trademark services team. The addition of 10 partners and lawyers to the IP group further supplemented the outfit’s capabilities in the trademark space; little wonder then that it is a favourite among domestic businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, across various industries. A well-known IP litigator, Guanbin Xie is celebrated for his sharp wit in the courtroom and recently succeeded in obtaining well-known trademark recognition for China State Construction Engineering Corporation. Hui Liang may be new to the firm, but she is no stranger to the trademark industry, having previously examined applications and oppositions at the CNIPA before joining China Patent Agent (HK). She now prosecutes trademarks for a diverse mix of Chinese companies.

Linda Liu & Partners

Linda Liu & Partners may be a patent powerhouse, but its trademark prowess is also gaining prominence, especially among Japanese businesses. The “highly professional and knowledgeable” team of 24 trademark attorneys and attorneys at law, as well as a former trademark examiner, has prosecuted more than 9,000 cases and rendered expert opinions in Chinese, English and Japanese. Within three years of establishing the domestic department, the Beijing-based side has witnessed a marked growth in local matters, while branches in Shanghai, Suzhou and Dalian have developed rapidly and its associated law firm has assisted in contentious issues. The outfit was recently selected as a cooperating partner of the Alibaba IP Service Market. Thanks to her proficient Japanese language skills, Sophia Xiao is popular among Japanese companies. Joining the ranks in the prosecution and strategy table this year is Richard Gao, who has more than a decade of experience in offering advice for trademark prosecution.

Liu, Shen & Associates

“One of the most reputable IP firms in China,” Liu, Shen & Associates was founded by pioneers of the Chinese IP industry and later added legal capabilities to offer comprehensive trademark services to clients. The IP boutique excels in prosecuting trademarks locally and in Hong Kong. Lily Changxin Lei captains the trademark department of 11 attorneys, including Yuguang Wei. “They are always available to answer questions and reply with great detail and thoughtfulness, supported by superb English language skills that make navigating Chinese law more streamlined for US companies. They’re also open to alternative strategies.”

Lung Tin Intellectual Property Agent Ltd 

As one of the first Chinese IP firms to be authorised by the government to represent international clients in China, Lung Tin Intellectual Property Agent Ltd is popular among foreign companies, especially those in the high-tech and internet space. The one-stop shop relies on 25 years of experience to handle more than 8,200 trademark matters every year from six local bases across China, as well as outposts in Osaka and New York. With more than 1,000 IP cases under her belt, Japanese-speaking Di (Deland) Wu guides the trademark department through any and all sorts of IP problems. Meanwhile, trademark attorney and attorney at law Ping Sui recently assigned two trademarks to Statista, Inc and defended well-known marks for HB Fuller Company.

NTD Intellectual Property Attorneys 

Prosecution powerhouse NTD Intellectual Property Attorneys is “one of the first firms in China to provide a broad spectrum of legal service in intellectual property”. Supported by 38 trademark attorneys backed by years of experience and fluency in Japanese, German and French, the outfit has an international presence through liaison offices in New Jersey, Silicon Valley, Tokyo and Munich. Christopher Shen was recently named co-chair of the INTA China Global Advisory Council: “With a well-spring of trademark expertise and fabulous client and litigation skills, he is one of the very best all-around trademark practitioners in China.”. Head of the trademark department Aidi Ge draws on two decades of experience to offer strategic IP advice to both domestic and foreign companies.

Panawell & Partners 

Founded in 2003, IP boutique Panawell & Partners started life representing the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese universities and businesses in domestic IP matters, but has since expanded to cover industries and clients of all stripes. The Beijing-based firm now has a branch in Chengdu and an outpost in Tokyo to support its offerings. A “very reliable” contact for foreign associates, William Yang communicates responsively in “excellent spoken and written English”.

Shanghai Patent & Trademark Law Office LLC

Boasting a strong volume of trademark filings, Shanghai Patent & Trademark Law Office LLC offers the expertise of almost 200 patent and trademark attorneys, many of whom have studied or trained overseas in the IP space.

Tiantai Law Firm 

The merger of Juntai Law Firm and Tianchi Hongfan Law Firm created large, full-service legal practice Tiantai Law Firm, which makes its way into the prosecution and strategy table of the WTR 1000 this year. “Prompt, upright, professional and reliable” in its trademark services, the “stable and great team” offers “timely and pragmatic legal services” in all IP matters to an array of domestic and foreign companies. Xiang Ma hails from the Beijing office, while Frank Liu is based in Shanghai. Liu may be new to the rankings but, as a former Tianshui Intermediate People’s Court judge, he is a familiar face in the Shanghai IP community. “Profound, comprehensive and cordial, Frank is good at giving practical advice.” By building “mutual trust” he provides “great support” to clients that have depended on him for years.

Unitalen Attorneys at Law 

“Responsive and cost competitive,” Unitalen Attorneys at Law is an IP behemoth with 650 employees stationed across 24 offices in Greater China, as well as branches in Germany, Japan and the United States. “Quick and efficient” in managing incoming trademark applications, the firm files more than 10,000 cases annually for clients that appreciate its full-spectrum of IP services. As a close partner to local and foreign higher education institutes, it recently launched the Tongji University and Unitalen IP Fund and spoke on Chinese trademark law and strategy to the heads of various Japanese universities. Ray Zhao, the new co-chair of INTA’s China Global Advisory Council, heads the international department, enjoying a “good reputation” among peers and foreign associates. Ying Huang completes the set in the prosecution space.

Wanhuida Intellectual Property 

Sitting comfortably at the apex of the Chinese market, Wanhuida has quickly come to dominate both the prosecution and enforcement tables within merely two decades of its establishment. Foreign associates see the side as their “go-to trademark firm in China” because of its “open and honest communication, high efficiency and good service, as well as proactive work attitude”, while peers attest that the group has some of the best practices in the trademark industry. With 100 trademark attorneys and an HGJ system to streamline trademark management, it easily takes on an impressive volume of trademark applications – more than 41,000 prosecution cases in a year – as well as some of the most challenging and high-profile litigation matters in China. An IP expert and trusted partner of LVMH and Michelin, founding partner Gang Bai was recently elected to the INTA board of directors as the sole Chinese representative. With his “good reputation and doctorate in trademark law”, gold-rated IP litigator Hui Huang is a familiar face at all levels of the Chinese courts, including the Supreme Court. Together, they are handling the first administrative litigation involving a dispute over the geographical range of a geographical indication mark for Anhui GuoRun Tea Industrial Co, as well as the registration of an abstract colour combination mark for Andreas Stihl Ag & Co KG before the Beijing IP Court. With “the ability to handle multitasking, work under great pressure and provide precise, tailored advice”, Jason Yao “very much impresses” with his “professional skills and positive attitude”. The former in-house counsel at Proctor & Gamble and the Acushnet Company has had his administrative and civil litigation suits “highly appraised by IP practitioners and scholars”. Meanwhile, Jack Su takes a bow for his involvement in a landmark case which saw the Supreme Court reject the extension of a trademark registration.

Watson & Band Law Offices

For its sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000, Watson & Band Law Offices brings to the table newly established offices in Guangzhou, Suzhou and Chizhou to better serve its largely foreign clientele. Supplemented by practice groups in other areas of law and an in-house investigations team, the Shanghai-headquartered law firm and IP agency offers the full spectrum of services in the trademark space. Where Liming Zhang ensures that patrons’ trademark applications succeed before the TRAB, Yizhou Liu defends them in court, recently obtaining a victory for Shimadzu Corporation in a trademark infringement and unfair competition matter.

Zhong Lun Law Firm 

A partner to Chinese businesses looking to expand into the international market, Zhong Lun Law Firm is fervently endorsed by foreign associates who enjoy working with the “trusted resource”. With an excellent team of professionals who are “all equally competent” and “very responsive”, clients “will never be disappointed” and can expect “reliable and quality work” that leads to good results. Their advice on all things trademarks “shows good judgement and sensitivity to the cost-benefit analysis from the clients’ perspective”. For this reason, multinationals such as Daimler AG, ASOS and Agilent Technologies entrust the full-service outfit- – one of the first private law partnerships approved by the Ministry of Justice – with their trademark portfolios and enforcement matters. “An innovative and learned trademark attorney with a great understanding of conflicts between the United Kingdom and China,” Jimmy Huang takes the gold spot in the prosecution and strategy table this year. Foreign associates rave about his sterling reputation, which contributes to their “tremendous trust” in him. “Jimmy is extremely responsive, reliable and a pleasure to work with. His opinions are concise and his command of English excellent.” Bringing his razor-sharp litigation skills to court, he recently represented VINCE LLC in a trademark infringement suit, where he obtained Rmb5.95 million in compensation claims, as well as a trademark dispute for Ping An Health Cloud Company Limited. Making their debut in the WTR 1000 this year, Joyce Yan and Weihua Yang ensure that foreign companies will find their brands enjoy top-class protection.

Zhongzi Law Office

Established in 1993, Zhongzi Law Office is an old hand at providing solutions to trademark prosecution problems. With experienced attorneys and professionals schooled and trained in China and abroad, the team brings an international outlook to IP issues. A key contact for trademark matters, Li Na “understands clients’ businesses and provides practical and realistic solutions”.

ZY Partners 

Over two decades of IP expertise and more than 50 lawyers make up ZY Partners, a boutique law firm that has been offering holistic IP advice to a variety of multinational corporations for years. Particularly strong in the contentious space, the group’s prosecution practice is also growing in prominence with large domestic companies and high-tech start-ups sending it mandates and seeking assistance with portfolio management. Yanling Zheng straddles the contentious/non-contentious divide and is adept at formulating comprehensive IP and brand protection strategies. As testament to the side’s strength in trademark litigation, Jingbing Li and Xiaohong Li are newcomers in the WTR 1000. While the former has been busy defending well-known trademarks and appearing before the Supreme People’s Court, the latter protects and prosecutes marks for foreign businesses.

Other recommended experts

Dan Chen and Robert Li swapped Unitalen Attorneys at Law for Fairsky Law Office last year. “Our first recommendation for portfolio work,” Chen is “meticulous and thorough”. Companies with multiple trademarks will find him “most trustworthy”, while Li takes the lead in contentious matters. Japanese-speaking Charles Feng is a WTR 1000 debutant from East & Concord Partners, straddling the contentious/non-contentious divide for clients such as JXTG, the largest oil manufacturer in Japan. For her “efficiency and practical advice”, Beijing-based IP boutique Hanray’s Helen Huang makes her first appearance in the WTR 1000 this year; she specialises in trademark prosecution. Jinshan Liu of Boss & Young Patent and Trademark Law Office joins the prosecution and strategy table following a warm recommendation by a foreign associate. The “outstanding, pragmatic and focused” trademark attorney has been registering trademarks in China and worldwide for nearly 30 years. Chaoyang Wang brings over 25 years of experience in the IP field to ensure that the marks of AZIMARC IP Law Services LLP’s clients are fully protected. Newly ranked Angell Xi at Jingtian & Gongcheng is the only IP practitioner in the China: domestic chapter to be involved in arts licensing. She led a comprehensive British Museum licensing project in Greater China and a global licensing project for UI International Brand Management (Beijing) Co. Another new face in the prosecution and strategy table, Sarah (Hongmei) Yuan hails from Hengdu Law Firm, where she takes charge of the international team. After establishing Twelve Tables Law Firm with six other practitioners in March 2019, Lexfield alumnus Hairuo Zhang continues to excel in the contentious space, recently representing US SeaWorld LLC in administrative trademark suits against Australia Sea World LLC and the CNIPA. “She has a real knack for distilling complicated legal and procedural concepts down to understandable and actionable advice.” “Hairuo is practical, strategic, very responsive and hardworking; I trust her with our largest and most important client matters, and I have never been let down or disappointed in any way.” Managing partner at PatMark Attorneys, Zhongcheng Zhao joins the WTR 1000 this year on the back of fervent praise from foreign associates. Not only does he offer “great value with responsiveness and creativity” alongside “prompt and clear instructions”, he is also guaranteed to “put his clients first”. Six years after setting up the eponymous Liam Zhu Liu & Partners, Liam Zhu makes his way into the prosecution and strategy table for “understanding US thinking and giving good advice that US clients can appreciate”.

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

Individuals: prosecution and strategy