14 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Sweeping legal change, disruptive new technologies and evolving social attitudes all factor into how IP is understood and protected. Driven by rapid technological advancement, the growing globalisation of creative works and a rising appreciation of the value of IP assets, the IP sector has undergone a major transformation. Notable developments included breakthroughs in content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and new international agreements on setting uniform patent standards. They paved the way to ensure innovation and creative works can continue to thrive despite digital disruptions. As the economic value of IP rose, many Asian countries hit the ground running and overhauled their IP frameworks to support the booming digital economy. JAPAN On Jun. 14, 2023, Japan passed the Act for Partial Revision of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, known as Act No. 51. This comprehensive law updated several IP statutes, including the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, Trademark Law, Design Law, Patent Law and Utility Model Law. As digital technology and the internet become commonplace, the online display and sale of counterfeit goods have proliferated. The amended Unfair Competition Prevention Law now considers the online offering or transaction of imitation products in the digital realm to be a form of unfair competition. Previously, the Japanese Trademark Law did not allow for the registration of a trademark that was deemed similar to an existing registered mark. However, this amendment introduces a “Letter of Consent” policy, opening the door to a new approach. Under this policy, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) can now permit registration of a mark if the rights holder of similar mark consent, as long as registration does not cause a likelihood of confusion among consumers or traders. According to the Design Act, a published design could not be registered if the publication occurred prior to the application filing. Previously, an exception existed where a declaration submitted within one year of publication would consider the design unpublished. In such cases, creators or other parties were required to submit evidence of publication for each instance. With this amendment, only a single submission of evidence is now needed, regardless of the number of times a design was published. These revisions show that Japan is ramping up efforts to modernise IP laws and better meet the evolving needs of businesses in the digital age. CHINA China courts received 544,126 different IP rights cases through 2023, according to a report in April 2024 by the Status of Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Chinese Courts (2023), released by the Supreme People’s Court COVER STORY The past year marked an important turning point in the development of the regulatory ecosystem for intellectual property (IP) across Asia. Strides have been made to better harmonise patent laws between countries, while discussions gained momentum around balancing copyright protections in the digital era. In this annual list, we highlight the best firms for IP work in the Asian region. BY ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS ASIA IP RANKINGS