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Fish & Richardson goes global

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With an international client base, Fish & Richardson has represented companies from all over the globe who have sought out the law firm for intellectual property representation in the United States. U.S. companies also turn to the law firm for assistance with patent and other IP issues internationally.

Now Fish has truly become a global company with the opening of its first European office in Munich, Germany on Oct. 1.

The office opens with five professionals, including two partners from the Bardehle Pagenberg firm, with plans to grow to 12 professionals by the end of 2008.

Fish’s international client base has had many German clients -- including Porsche, Zeiss, SAP, and Siemens -- and the new office will give the firm a home base in Europe to continue to expand its global practice.

According to Peter J. Devlin, Fish & Richardson’s president, the firm’s selection of Munich was strategic.

“Inventive corporations today need a worldwide IP strategy and are often involved in multi-national litigation, and a European presence will help us to serve those needs," Devlin said. "Munich is one of the most important technology centers in Europe, so this was a perfect location for our first office outside the United States.”

With its global reach expanding into the European market, Fish is becoming increasingly active with international organizations, including the University of California, Berkeley’s China Innovation & Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Leadership Program, which recently held its second annual program in September.

The two-week program, which was attended by 24 top Chinese representatives, focused on innovation and intellectual property rights aiming to strengthen intellectual property protection and enhance innovation in China. The program featured a series of in-class training sessions, taught by some of the luminaries of law, innovation, and business at UC Berkeley.

The list of Chinese participants included some of the most important IP professionals in China concerned with IPR strategy, policy and enforcement, such as representatives from People’s Supreme Court of China and provincial courts, China’s central and provincial government officials and corporate executives.

Fish & Richardson, which is one of the founding sponsors of the exchange and training program, hosted the Chinese legal professionals at the firm’s Silicon Valley office for an up-close look at how IP law and the legal system operates in the United States. Fish principals Jeffrey Whieldon, John M. Farrell and David Barkan presented a seminar on actual ITC litigation and IP litigation in U.S. cases for the Chinese participants. Bing Ai, a principal in the San Diego Fish office and a native of China, organized the visit to the firm and was one of many Fish lawyers who attended the program.

“The Berkeley program helps Chinese legal professionals to learn practical information on IP laws and multiple enforcement mechanisms in the U.S. In addition, the Berkeley program provides a platform for China and the U.S. to exchange ideas and concerns regarding IPR in both countries. This exchange can help the Chinese to improve their legal system and promote dialogue between U.S. and China on IP issues,” Ai said. “What they take away from this program can help them make decisions that not only matter today but also in the future of China’s IP law.”

Intellectual property law is becoming of increasing interest to the Chinese legal community. While China has implemented many laws to protect intellectual property, enforcing the laws has proven difficult.

“Through this program we are helping Chinese professionals better understand the U.S. legal system. By observing our laws and learning about our successes and challenges, our guests can return to China with strategies for change, expansion and improvement,” Ai said.

Ai’s practice emphasizes patent prosecution and counseling, patent strategy and analysis, development and management of patent portfolios, patent opinions and patent due diligence investigations. Before becoming a lawyer at Fish, Ai worked for the firm as a patent agent and technology specialist.

Ai, who initially came to the United States to study physics, is fluent in oral and written Mandarin Chinese. His language skills were put to good use during the UC Berkeley program, and he has traveled to China to speak on U.S. patent systems to his clients, IP practitioners, and corporations in China.

In addition to Fish’s involvement with a global organization such as Berkeley’s IPR Program, firm attorneys actively author articles in international publications and speak at international conferences. The firm has also hosted seminars in several European and Asian cities.

John Schnurer and Alex Eaton-Salners with the San Diego office of Fish & Richardson recently authored an article on "Global Patent Litigation for Asia Law," a monthly publication that focuses on law and legal practice in Asia for legal professionals and senior business executives.

The article focused on examining the treatment of patents at various international courts, as well as the different discovery processes, language issues and remedies available. The article has led to an invitation to speak next month at an international forum on IP law in Hong Kong.

“It is important to reach out to the global legal community,” Ai said. “The more communication that we have with each other the more we can improve our legal systems.”

Kovach is a senior account manager with TW2 Marketing Inc.

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