Interview with: Spring Chang, Founding Partner, Chang Tsi & Partners

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Chang Tsi & Partners

Founding Partner Spring Chang explains how the firm is adapting to clients’ changing needs

 

1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate [Chang Tsi & Partners] from your competitors?

Recognized as one of the top-tier IP law firms in China, Chang Tsi & Partners can be distinguished from our competitors in the following aspects:

Exceptional Legal Expertise: Our attorneys and lawyers are highly proficient in their respective legal fields. Many of our senior lawyers have dedicated over 15 years to serving the same client accounts. Their expertise is continually enhanced through collaborative teamwork and our corporate management structure.

Comprehensive Legal Services: Chang Tsi & Partners boasts extensive experience in both Chinese domestic and international legal services. We maintain partnerships and affiliations with legal professionals worldwide, making us a one-stop solution for everything from prosecution to enforcement. We handle a wide spectrum of matters, including trademark, patent, copyright, trade secret, cyber security law, and corporate law.

Quality Assurance: Over the past two decades, we have established a high-class service and risk management system that aligns with international standards. Our strict process scope and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) ensure the quality of our services. All our team members operate within a centralized management system through an OA work platform and RPA robot system. Our commitment is to consistently surpass our clients’ expectations and promptly meet their needs. We have set a 24-hour responsiveness standard to guarantee timely client support.

 

2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The Central Government in China, along with the China Patent Office, has been diligently working to create a more favorable environment for patent proprietors. In the initial three quarters of 2023, China witnessed a notable increase in patent grants, with over 690,000 patents awarded, marking a 13.63% year-on-year growth. Early in 2023, the China Patent Office announced that Chinese patent examiners would expedite patent examinations and reduce the average examination period from 22 months to 16 months. Various measures, such as the China Supreme Court directly handling complex technology-related IP cases, have contributed to improved transparency and efficiency. Simultaneously, the maximum statutory damages for patent infringement that a patentee can claim have been raised to 5 million RMB (approximately 700,000 USD), with punitive damages available, up to 5 times the statutory damages, if a willful infringement is established by the IP court. Across China, more than 22 provinces have launched their own open-license pilot platforms, allowing patentees to efficiently sell or license their patents to third parties. Both the Central Government and local governments are actively promoting a market-oriented mechanism for assessing and utilizing existing patents, facilitating rapid commercialization by matching high-value patents with enterprises.

To adapt to these recent updates in patent practice in China, Chang Tsi & Partners continues to enhance our expertise and experience in various areas of patent law. We stay abreast of the latest developments in patent regulations, enabling us to offer comprehensive and tailored solutions to meet our clients’ needs. With our unwavering commitment to professionalism and excellence, we are well-prepared to meet our clients’ expanding patent requirements in the months ahead.

 

3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have observed that over the past four years, China’s Trademark Law, Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Anti-Unfair Competition Law have all undergone revisions, accompanied by numerous enhancements in legal practices. Looking beyond our borders to major jurisdictions, we can see that changes are also taking place. Consequently, it’s crucial to timely adjust our clients’ legal strategies to address these evolving landscapes.

Our traditional modes of client communication involve email exchanges and face-to-face meetings. However, it has become increasingly impractical for us to travel and meet clients in person due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place over the past three years and the current hybrid working arrangements adopted by most of our clients.

The primary adjustment we have made is to organize more online training courses and routine virtual meetings. This approach ensures that our foreign and Chinese domestic clients remain not only updated on all legal and practice changes but also can develop and refine their legal strategies with our assistance.

 

4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, technology is transforming the way we interact with clients and the services we offer at Chang Tsi & Partners. We have fully embraced advanced technology to elevate our management standards and enhance our competitiveness. Upgrades to our computer systems and network storage have laid a strong foundation for efficient business operations. We have implemented industry-leading firewall and backup systems to ensure security and stability. The upgrading of our operating systems and office suite has not only improved office capabilities but also enhanced security. The introduction of a document management system has standardized and secured our document processes. Through automation, we have significantly reduced manual involvement in workflows. Our Power BI platform provides extensive data support for operations, management, and decision-making.

The full launch of our overseas transportation office function has broadened our global business coverage. The implementation of the O365 cloud strategy has provided us with more substantial mailbox space and a more stable experience. This strategy also offers the next generation of office applications and a low-code platform. Our unwavering commitment to digital transformation and innovation ensures our resilience in this era of unprecedented change.

 

5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

At the request of one of our U.S. clients, Chang Tsi & Partners provided legal opinions and drafted a cooperative development agreement between our client and a third-party company. We played an integral role in the negotiation process right from the start, offering our legal insights and recommendations on a wide range of matters, including patent ownership and protection, the exercise of rights, evaluation, benefit allocation, and trade secret protection. Our recommendations were embraced by the clients, and we subsequently proceeded to draft the agreement, ensuring that our client’s rights and interests were safeguarded while also aiming for a mutually beneficial outcome in terms of business cooperation.

To expedite the development of new products in the Chinese market, our clients sought to acquire a series of patents, including patent applications, from a technology development company located in Beijing.

Through our professional, efficient, and customized services, Chang Tsi & Partners successfully negotiated a substantial reduction in the assignor’s pricing proposal. This negotiation not only benefited the assignor but also led to a more reasonable price for the assignment, ultimately reducing costs and legal risks for our client in the acquisition and utilization of these technologies.

 

6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm  in three years’ time?

Clients seek stability and strategic guidance from their law firms, particularly when safeguarding their valuable intellectual property rights (IPR). Over the next three years, our firm is dedicated to offering comprehensive protection for our clients’ IPR by harnessing the power of trademark and patent rights. These two forms of protection complement each other, providing a robust defense against infringements.

Trademark rights offer protection for the distinctive aspects of a package or trade dress but may fall short in covering less distinctive elements. This is where design rights play a vital role, offering superior protection by encompassing the entire trade dress or its less distinctive components. With recent amendments to China’s Patent Law, design patents now enjoy extended protection periods and partial design coverage, making them even more valuable to our clients. Additionally, invention and utility model patents are essential for empowering business success in both the short and long term.

In terms of enforcement, trademark rights infringements may be on the decline, but they are becoming increasingly discreet. Infringers frequently imitate packages, trade dress, and patents, which provides them with a safer approach as there is no criminal liability, and the infringement is more challenging to detect. This underscores the significance of design protection in our enforcement strategies.

Should a design lose its novelty or expire, we will explore alternative forms of protection, such as copyright or trade dress safeguards under the Chinese Anti-Unfair Competition Law. However, establishing an infringement case based on copyright entails a higher threshold, as the products must meet the qualifications for copyright protection.

In conclusion, our firm is unwavering in its commitment to staying at the forefront of the ever-evolving landscape of intellectual property rights. We are dedicated to providing our clients with stability, strategic direction, and effective solutions to safeguard their IP rights.