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Kwong Named APAA President

Issued: November 01 2012

On October 31, 2012, during the 61st Council Meeting of the Asian Patent Attorneys
Association (APAA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the organization held its first-ever presidential election, choosing Sit, Fung, Kwong & Shum partner Kwong Chi Keung, better known as C. K. Kwong, as the organization’s international president from 2012-2015.

“This election is an important milestone for our association, because this is the first time we have had a real, open competitive election, a result of a long term evolution which will ensure the continuous prosperity of our Association,” Kwong tells Asia IP.

He says the provision for the election was placed in the APAA Constitution by the organization’s founders 43 years ago. “Under Article 11, the president shall be elected by the Council amongst its members. It has just never been used, and I happened to be the first one to use it,” he says.

“If only one candidate was nominated by the incumbent president, then his name would simply be announced for approval by the Council. But this time, we had two candidates offering to serve as president,” he says.

An Election Committee was formed to establish the Implementation Rules and Regulations on Presidential Election, which created an elaborate procedure for the election. “The Rules are very detailed to ensure a transparent, decisive and fair election; and with these implementation rules as guidelines, we have the machinery for our Councilors to fully and freely exercise their voting rights in future elections,” says Kwong.

For his three-year term in office as president, Kwong has plans for both internal and external development for the APAA. “I would build more roads and bridges between the administration and member jurisdictions as well as enhance relationships amongst those jurisdictions,” he says.

Measures to improve communication are desirable as the APAA, founded in 1969, now has over 2300 members from 24 jurisdictions. For each jurisdiction with at least seven individual members from at least four separate organizations, a recognized group will be set up.

In addition to facilitating internal communications, Kwong says he also wants to start an APAA Academy. “At the moment, our educational sessions include workshops and committee meetings during annual conferences which are open to all participants.” He says that during the committee meetings, members submit reports on law and IP developments in various jurisdictions and, each year, a special topic is also set for discussion. This year, the topic for the workshop was IP trading and commercialization.

Kwong says the Academy may also consider publications on comparative studies on patent and IP systems within the APAA jurisdictions. But more importantly, the group looks to introduce formal training for all members, which could eventually receive local recognition.

“If we could run a few successful training programmes, for example on patent drafting or comparative patent practice within the APAA jurisdictions as well as the US, Europe and China, then we may invite local institutions to consider, on a voluntary basis, accepting our training qualifications to satisfy their requirements,” he explains. Kwong points out that within Asia, there are different stages of development of the economy, industry and the IP system. “That’s why you may experience different standards of practice across Asia. In some jurisdictions, they are just beginning to have an IP system and an IP profession.”

“I’m glad to see that the individual local  groups of the APAA have established high reputation in many jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, when they don’t have a professional organization to represent IP practitioners, the local APAA recognized group represents the profession,” adds Kwong.

Kwong says one of the objectives of the APAA is to foster ties among patent attorneys and to raise the overall standards of jurisdictions within the Association. “Our APAA Academy training programmes will be open to all members. I believe they will contribute to intensifying the development of the IP profession and achieving a uniformed higher standard,” he says.

On the external front, Kwong says the APAA will continue assisting local groups to further elevate the posture of IP professional groups in their respective jurisdictions. Closer tie with sister organizations is also on the agenda.

Kwong is also the first president from the Hong Kong in APAA’s history. A name partner of local firm Sit, Fung, Kwong & Shum, he says his appointment as the international president of the APAA is a positive statement to say that Hong Kong is becoming a regional and international IP hub.

Hong Kong itself has a lot of good qualities to become an international IP hub, he says. “During my election campaign, I realize how lucky we are geographically, because we are within the reach of a five hour flight from all major Asian cities. We are situated at a convenient time zone for teleconferences with Europe, America and Asia; plus we have a good legal system and a highly reputable IP system.” He adds that with multicultural and bilingual background, Hong Kong is well positioned to be a leader in the region.


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