Another two international firms have joined the growing rush into Myanmar, with UK IP firm Rouse and South East Asian firm Tilleke & Gibbins both expanding into the country.
Rouse’s Myanmar office, based in Yangon, is the firm’s sixteenth location. Led by partner and Thailand country manager Fabrice Mattei, the office will offer filing and prosecution for trade marks, patents designs and geographic indications, as well as portfolio management and IP commercialisation services such as technology transfer.
Mattei will be joined by locally-qualified lawyer Moe Mynn Thu, who has joined the firm from Myanmar Brewery. He is an experienced IP lawyer, who also lectures in law at Yangon University and is a member of the IP laws drafting committee of Myanmar.
“We have worked actively in the Myanmar market for several years, and believe the time is now right to establish a base in the country,” says Rouse chief executive Luke Minford. According to Minford, the firm already manages the IP rights of more than 50 clients in Myanmar.
“Myanmar is a thriving, nascent economy, with a strategic position between India, China and Thailand. Working in the country brings many opportunities, as well as challenges, to IP owners,” said Mattei, who is based in Bangkok, but will spend time in Myanmar.
“The country’s IP regime is currently undergoing huge, and positive change – now is the right time for companies to begin to understand and protect their IP in Myanmar.”
Meanwhile Thailand-headquartered regional firm Tilleke & Gibbins has also opened in Myanmar. Tilleke’s Yangon office also has a particular focus on IP related services.
Apart from Myanmar, Tilleke has also launched new offices in Indonesia and Laos as part of the firm’s regional expansion. Initially, each of these offices will focus primarily on IP work, an area of strength of the firm.
“We’ve been serving clients in IP matters in these jurisdictions for many years, having managed thousands of registration matters in each country. As our clients have continued to entrust us with more and more matters across Southeast Asia, we felt the time was right to launch a physical presence in Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar, so that we can further improve the services we deliver to our clients,” said Darani Vachanavuttivong, co-managing partner of Tilleke & Gibbins. Based in Bangkok, Vachanavuttivong will oversee the three new offices.
In Indonesia, the firm expects to focus exclusively on patent and trademark registration and related activities. In Laos and Myanmar, its initial push will be driven by IP, but it already has significant interest from clients to offer more broadly into other areas.
“We are constantly reviewing our strategic initiatives in order to determine where we should direct our investments. Many of our clients are interested in having a single point of contact for their legal needs across Southeast Asia, so we are certainly eyeing further expansion possibilities,” said Vachanavuttivong.
Since the beginning of this year, a raft of foreign firms have entered into the market, either by setting up an office or through a tie-up with a local firm. Singapore-based Selvam & Partners (10 September 2013), US-based Herzfeld Rubin Meyer & Rose (29 October 2013), and Stephenson Harwood (8 May 2013) have all done so in recent months.