In Oct and Nov 2001, we launched a major China expedition, that included Shenzhen (just across the broder), Guangzhou (2 hours by train) and Beijing (4 hours by plane). We planned our trip with internet search, referral by other law firms, etc. We visited a number local and foreign patent attorney firms and see how we can team up our association.
Those we called foreign firms, they have local staff who can handle both English and Chinese work, no problem in working with us for any patent applications coming from our US customers. They have engineers from different fields, including biochemical, electronic, mechanical... So we would be very comfortable working with these people. What is the catch? We would price ourself out of the market. These firms were charging US rate, that us USD5,000 and up for standard process utility patent.
Then there were a large number of local and national firms. Local firms with one office in their city of operation, among other things, are likely to be small firms with one or two experience attorneys. Again, some of these firms were a special products in China.
Years before, China have a very large government structure in the local levels that duplicated Central Government. That means as there was a Patent Office in the Central Government level, they had a similar offices in province, county and city levels. For some of these officies, they were actually an office with many plates, that is, one small office taking care of a lot of different areas of trade, commerce, manufacturing, etc. For some of the local governments that really need to govern local activities that were related to intellectual property protection, then a number of local government officials were handling patents and related matters. Then cames 1990s, to downsize government and drive privatization, some of these local goverment officials were asked to leave the government and set up their own Patent Attorney business. They had their local government and business connection. This was good for them to start off their business.
However, some of the local and national firms were charging US rate. With that knowledge we would wish them luck and said goodbye.