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The most influential people in Asia

Managing IP’s Top 50 list picks out the individuals shaping the IP industry worldwide. The 2012 Asia selection demonstrates the rising power of China, and the importance of people behind the scenes

The top 50 in Asia:

Ricardo Blancaflor
Jack Chang
Kim Dotcom
Neil Gane & John Stanton
Lu Guoqiang
Judge Jiang Ying
Tian Lipu
Xi Xiaoming
Zhang Qin
Nicola Roxon
Tan Yih San
Prabha Sridevan
Toshiaki Iimura

Ricardo Blancaflor, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines

Since becoming director general of the Philippines' IP Office in March 2010, Ricardo Blancaflor has put other offices to shame with the speed and breadth of his achievements. The Philippines has acceded to the Madrid Protocol, despite much local opposition from law firms and the challenge of sufficiently reducing the Office's pendency times. In five years the average trade mark pendency has fallen from 40 months to eight. He has also masterminded amendments to the IP Code as well as tougher anti-counterfeiting work, seizing over $200 million of goods in the past year.

Further reading:

Exclusive interview: Ricardo Blancaflor, IPOPHL
Philippine authorities crack down on counterfeiting hotspot
Philippines gets new IP head

Jack Chang, GE and Quality Brands Protection Committee

While the opportunities in China’s rapidly growing economy continue to draw the attention of international companies, its reputation for difficult IP enforcement still makes rights holders wary. Jack Chang, senior IP counsel at GE and a self-described “front-line IP soldier”, has worked to make China a more IP-friendly place....

Read the full interview with Jack Chang

Kim Dotcom, Megaupload

Although his twitter feed fell silent for months and the man himself has barely spoken publicly since spending a month in jail, Kim Dotcom has barely been out of the news. In fact, one British newspaper has a page devoted to him.

The German-born, New Zealand-resident founder of file-sharing site MegaUpload is accused of using money earned from copying music and movies to fund a lavish lifestyle, and the United States is seeking his extradition on fraud and criminal IP charges. But Dotcom (real name Kim Schmitz) will not go quietly: his lawyers recently succeeded in challenging the warrants used to arrest him and he has accused Joe Biden of personally ordering the MegaUpload shutdown. These defiant antics make him the pin-up pirate for a generation of file sharers and public enemy number one for the RIAA and MPAA.

Further reading:

Megaupload founder prepares for extradition fight
US authorities act against Megaupload
What Megaupload defendants can expect in US court

Neil Gane & John Stanton, AFACT and Communications Alliance

Earlier this year, the Australian High Court unanimously ruled in Roadshow Films v iiNet that ISPs were not liable for its users' IP infringement, despite receiving notices of the activity. The holding shifted the balance of power in the negotiations between ISPs and rights holders on the responsibilities of service providers to prevent infringement. The resulting agreement may well serve as a model for other jurisdictions dealing with ISP liability.......

Read the full interview with Neil Gane and John Stanton

Lu Guoqiang, Shanghai IP office

As the head of the Shanghai IP Administration (SIPA), Lu Guoqiang has plans to make the growing financial centre an IP powerhouse as well. Known for its efficient court system, Shanghai is already one of the most popular jurisdictions for foreign companies to file IP suits. Lu is building on this advantage, and is devising a 10-year plan to cement the city's role as a regional IP hub. Goals include fostering IP exchanges in the city, as well as giving small and medium-sized businesses ways to use their IP as collateral to gain funding. In addition, Lu has been lobbying for WIPO to open its first China regional office in Shanghai.

Lu's commitment to improving IP protection in Shanghai has been steadfast. A former judge, he helped to set up the IP chamber of the Shanghai Higher People's Court, and has ruled on a number of high-profile cases, including a 2005 decision finding that Xingbake's unauthorised use of Starbucks and the Chinese transliteration Xing Ba Ke amounted to trade mark infringement.

Lu's work to strengthen IP in Shanghai has received positive feedback. Francis Gurry, director general of WIPO, said that the city's 10-year plan "is a move in the right direction that will open up the Asia-Pacific region to WIPO and the whole world".

Further reading:

Shanghai’s new IP chief
Meet the region’s IP leaders

Jiang Ying, IP Tribunal, Beijing 1st Intermediate Court

Called a "judicial star" by peers in China, Jiang Ying is as one of the most respected and influential IP judges in the country. A veteran of over 1,400 IP cases, including 400 involving foreign parties, she was recently promoted to the position of deputy chief judge of the IP Tribunal of the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court. "She is extremely professional, and a very impartial judge", said one lawyer who wished to remain anonymous. "Other judges pay attention to her decisions."

Jiang's influence extends beyond those decisions though. She is a frequent lecturer, talking about the importance of IP laws and ways to encourage creation and innovation, ultimately to the benefit of China's development. Attorneys think her influence will continue to grow. Despite her recent elevation to the deputy chief judge role, many believe she will be promoted again in the near future.

Further reading:

Internet a 'big killer' of copyright security 
新时期专家型法官——姜颖 []

Tian Lipu, SIPO

The choice might be predictable, but it would be foolhardy to make a list of the IP world's most influential 10 people and exclude Tian Lipu, commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office.

Under Tian's leadership, China's intellectual property has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, China overtook the United States and Japan with the most patent filings in the world, with 1.63 million. The increase has been astonishing, given that there were only about 3 million total applications filed in China in the last 20 years....

Read the full story on Tian Lipu

Xi Xiaoming, Supreme People’s Court of China

Xi Xiaoming is vice president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and oversees its IP Tribunal. Though Xi no longer rules on individual cases, he is responsible for shaping the national judicial IP policy.

Xi also speaks and writes frequently on IP issues. Not only does he discuss there the importance of IP protection in China's rapidly growing economy and the importance of the national IP strategy, he has stressed the role of judicial policy in improving the IP environment. He points to the need for uniform standards of justice, as well as efficient and "scientific" allocation of judicial resources.

"Even though Xi is not actively ruling on cases, he has a lot of influence on IP policy," explains one attorney. "His speeches often form the basis of judicial memorandums, which act as guidelines for other judges. Along with the chief judge [Kong Xiangjun of the IP Tribunal], he is one of the most influential in intellectual property."

Further reading:

Xi Xiaoming China cracks down on counterfeiters
充分发挥司法保护知识产权主导作用为实践科学发展观和建设创新型国家提供坚强有力的司法保障 [Supreme People’s Court of China]

Zhang Qin, China Association for Science and Technology

Zhang Qin is no starry-eyed academic. A nuclear engineer and computer scientist by training, he served as deputy commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office from 2003 to 2009. As the second highest official at SIPO, he was the key organiser and drafter of the Outline of National Intellectual Property Strategy of China (ONIPSC) issued by the State Council in 2008, and is credited for formulating the more than 200 action goals it took to implement the Strategy....

Read the full interview with Zhang Qin

Tan Yih San, IP Office of Singapore

It's an unusual career move, but for Tan Yih San a logical one. On June 1 last year, he became chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, retiring from the Singapore Armed Forces, following a 26-year career that took him to the rank of brigadier. With a bachelor of science degree in physics, Tan was always interested in new technologies and immediately before joining IPOS worked in developing emerging technologies and investing in start-up companies, with a view to boosting the defence budget....

Read the full interview with Tan Yih San

Prabha Sridevan, Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India

Prabha Sridevan was appointed chairman of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board on September 5 2011 after serving as a judge on the Madras High Court for 10 years. She has quickly made her imprint on IP practice in India.

In the past year, she has ruled on a number of noteworthy cases, such as Yahoo v Controller and Rediff, holding that business methods are not patentable in India, and Tata v Unilever, invalidating Unilever's water-filter patent for failure to file Section 8 disclosures. She was also the sitting judge on Financial Times v Times Publishing House, where she invalidated the British newspaper's trade mark.

Sridevan is also expected to speed up and clear the backlog at IPAB, which is very welcome among IP owners. A number of attorneys have commented on her hesitance to grant unwarranted time extensions, as well as her willingness to speed up hearings when both sides work quickly and act in good faith. She has also aggressively lobbied for additional resources for IPAB.

Further reading:

Financial Times loses Indian trade mark in “unprecedented” case 
Loss for Unilever shows importance of playing by the rules in India 
Justice Sridevan’s report exposes the Central Govt’s apathy towards the IPAB 

Toshiaki Iimura, Japanese IP High Court

A returning member of the Top 50, Toshiaki Iimura was elevated to the role of Chief Judge of the IP High Court of Japan in April. Already considered the most influential IP judge in the country, his new position confirms his status as a key voice in reforming Japan's IP system....

Read the full interview with Toshiaki Iimura

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