K&L Gates launches China-focused IP agency to bolster global trademark coverage

New agency will work directly with China's IP authorities rather than deal with local firms
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K&L Gates has expanded its global trademark offering with the launch of its own Chinese trademark agency to file and prosecute applications directly with China’s intellectual property agency, the CNIPA.

The launch of K&L Gates IP Agency means the firm can handle all Chinese trademark matters internally – including oppositions, revocations and renewals – rather than relying on the services of local firms.

Chris Round, a member of the firm’s IP procurement and portfolio management practice group, said: “Registration of trademarks in China is critical to the success of our clients’ global operations. The creation of the K&L Gates IP Agency allows us to streamline our engagements with clients to remove a level of administrative process so that we can offer a fully integrated trademark solution in China with the cost benefits of this efficiency.”

A team of IP lawyers led by Beijing-based counsel Edward Yao will support the firm’s Chinese IP agency. The firm’s global IP practice has more than 200 lawyers and professionals with a local presence across four continents, including roughly 100 registered patent lawyers.

China overtook the US as the top filer of international patent applications in 2019, ending four decades of American IP dominance, according to a report published last year by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last April. 

China filed 58,900 applications through WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system in 2019, roughly 1,000 more than the US. Then WIPO director general Francis Gurry said China’s rapid growth to become the top filer of international patent applications underscored a long-term shift in the centre of innovation from the West to the East, with Asia-based applications now accounting for more than half of all PCT applications.

K&L Gates’ expanded focus on China echoes a broader market trend this year with a number of international firms ramping up their Chinese coverage. Earlier this week, Davis Polk announced plans to bolster its Beijing corporate practice with the hiring of equity capital markets specialist Jason Xu from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, while earlier this month Allen & Overy’s Shanghai joint venture with Lang Yue hired disputes specialist Melody Wang from Chinese firm Fangda to head up its Chinese litigation practice.

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