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Asia: Simmons & Simmons launches Beijing IP agency as Bakers hires from Magic Circle firms in HK push

Simmons & Simmons has created a specialist trade mark practice in China, hiring George Chan as a partner from Asia Pacific IP agency Rouse to head the new agency.

The unit will allow Simmons & Simmons to represent clients directly before the Chinese trade mark authorities, with the country increasingly placing itself alongside the US and the EU as a third vital cog in global IP registration. With international firms restricted from practicing Chinese law, Simmons & Simmons has established a separate legal entity permitted to provide a range of intellectual property related services by Chinese regulators. 

Chan joins to spearhead the launch in Beijing after five years at Rouse, which has ten offices across Asia Pacific and counts electronics group Sony, drinks manufacturer Diageo and car maker BMW among its client base. Chan works with pharmaceuticals on the formulation, implementation and management of IP portfolios in China and the Asia-Pacific region, specialising in the regulatory approval requirements for drugs, trade secrets protection, trade mark and patent prosecution and IP agreements, an increasingly common tool for ending protracted disputes that run up expensive legal bills. Chan was formerly a partner at Chinese IP boutique Kangxin Partners and sits on the International Trademark Association’s Asia Pacific/Canada subcommittee. 

Simmons & Simmons expects to have six lawyers at the office by the end of November and Davis Wang, the firm’s head of China, said that the country ‘is central to the firm’s growth strategy and this new specialist agency, along with George’s arrival, is part of our commitment to build upon and develop our strengths in trademarks and brands in the region.’

Baker & McKenzie has also made a push in the region, taking two senior managers from Magic Circle firms Linklaters and Clifford Chance. The firm’s Hong Kong office has been bolstered by the arrival of Stephen Crosswell, who headed Clifford Chance’s Hong Kong competition group, and Rowan McKenzie, who served as head of Linklaters’ employment and incentives practice in Asia. Both will join as partners.

Crosswell, who moved to Clifford Chance in 2011 after a five-year stint at Herbert Smith Freehills, advised Hong Kong’s biggest telephone operator PCCW on one of Hong Kong’s biggest disputes in 2013, having secured a judicial review following Apple’s barring of 4G access to iPhone users in Hong Kong.

Samantha Mobley, head of Baker & McKenzie’s 300-lawyer global competition group, said: ‘We are seeing huge demand for deep antitrust expertise in Hong Kong and China from the firm’s multinational clients and so the addition of an antitrust partner of Stephen’s calibre is an extremely welcome development.’