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People and places
Beginning in 2013, there was a rush for regional and international law firms to open branches in Myanmar. The “gold rush” mentality has cooled significantly since the February 1, 2021, coup by the Myanmar military, and a number of such firms have either reduced their footprint in Yangon or withdrawn altogether; the future for the legal practice in Yangon, which was among Asia’s brightest spots just a few years ago, with a suite of intellectual property laws set to debut, is now uncertain.
The military declared a year-long state of emergency which should end in early 2022, after which time the military rulers have promised “free and fair” elections.
While many regional and international firms do intellectual property work from Yangon, IP work is sometimes done from regional offices in Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere. A few firms have located their offices in the government capital, Naypyidaw, located some 380 kilometres north of Yangon, the country’s commercial centre.
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Allen & Gledhill’s Yangon office is staffed primarily with corporate and commercial lawyers who work closely with the firm’s IP lawyers in Singapore. Minn Naing Oo, who is managing director and partner at Allen & Gledhill (Myanmar), is friendly, personable, is commercially-minded and is an excellent source of information about Myanmar’s legal system. Director Jacqueline Cheong focuses on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and corporate restructurings; she acted for Thai Bev in that company’s acquisition of 75 percent of Myanmar Distillery Company.
Baker McKenzie opened its Myanmar office in February 2014, but was ahead of the curve through the establishment of its Myanmar Centre in the firm’s Bangkok office in 2012. Say Sujintaya, a partner who is regional chair of the firm’s Asia-Pacific IP group and who also heads the IP and media and entertainment teams in Bangkok, was responsible for establishing the IP practice in the Yangon office. The team has recently handled the successful registration of the transfer of a trademark portfolio of one of the world’s largest consumer retail brands in Myanmar.
A boutique full-service law firm specializing in IP laws, BIZ Law Consult Myanmar was put up by a group of established lawyers trained in Myanmar and regional laws. Its key IP contact is founder and CEO Min Tayza Nyunt Tin, who has extensive experience advising in IP laws and corporate and commercial laws. His specific practice includes trademark protection and an extensive experience in trademark infringement and counterfeit cases in Myanmar, being a certified professional certificate in Transnational Crimes and IP Crimes Investigator. Min Tayza’s name is sometimes transliterated as Minn Tayzar; he has been heavily involved in writing Myanmar’s new IP laws.
DFDL Myanmar, part of the regional DFDL law firm, has been in Myanmar since 1995, when the office was part of Russin & Vecchi. Senior legal adviser Ah Lonn Maung and legal adviser Ei Ei Thien advise on intellectual property issues. DFDL has offices in both Yangon and Naypyidaw.
Duane Morris & Selvam and Selvam & Partners opened a Yangon office in September 2013, with plans to focus on areas including licensing and market entry. The firm is a joint venture between US-based Duane Morris and Singapore-based Selvam. The firm advises US and Singapore clients in Myanmar through Duane Morris & Selvam; Selvam & Partners focuses on local legal matters.
Up-and-coming Bangkok-based new-gen, full-service law firm iLAW ASIA has expanded operations to Laos, where it operates as iLAW Myanmar. Founder and managing partner Somphob Rodboon is engaging, thorough and creative in his search for solutions, whether the problem lies in IP, corporate and commercial or other aspects of business law. On the ground in Yangon, Kyaw Zin Soe is the firm’s IP enforcement coordinator; he is well-experienced ferreting out counterfeit products around Myanmar.
Kelvin Chia Yangon which has been active in Myanmar since 1995, is the oldest foreign legal consultancy firm based in Yangon. The firm maintains a large intellectual property registration portfolio and represents many international trademark and patent agents. Foreign consulting attorney Pedro Jose Fausto Bernardo is a key contact.
Khine Khine U Law Firm is led by Khine Khine U, an important IP lawyer in Yangon. She advises on registering trademarks, patents and designs, and frequently assists in resolving problems with counterfeiters in Myanmar.
The Law Chambers is noted for its intellectual property work; the firm works exclusively in IP and maritime law. Partner Tin Ohnmar Tun leads the firm’s litigation team and represents clients including Louis Vuitton, British American Tobacco, Colgate Palmolive and Fraser and Neave. She is chair of the ASEAN Intellectual Property Association and has been involved in drafting the country’s coming IP laws.
LawPlus Myanmar is the Yangon office Bangkok-based LawPlus, led by managing partner Kowit Somwaiya. The firm is operated by a team of Myanmar lawyers and assistants who have in-depth knowledge and insight of Myanmar law, economy, society, culture and practice. Clients include Big C Supercenter, Pham Nguyen Confectionary, Roche Myanmar and Vital Trading. Yangon-based partner Khin Khin Zaw is a key contact.
Lucy Wayne is an English solicitor who has spent her career practicing law in Yangon (15 years), Ho Chi Minh City (13 years) and Los Angeles (nine years). These days, you’ll find her at Lucy Wayne & Associates with an effective, thorough team. The firm’s extensive experience in Southeast Asia stems from its work on more than 1,300 major projects in Myanmar and Vietnam, involving investment of around US$14.2 billion in aggregate. In addition to IP and dispute resolution work, the firm is well-respected in inward investment, project finance, infrastructure, telecommunications, petroleum and power generation, mining, and corporate and commercial work, among others.
Mirandah Asia handles Myanmar IP issues through its office in Singapore, where director Gladys Mirandah brings more than 35 years of IP experience in Asia. She has been admitted to practice in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Brunei. The firm is noted for its work in ASEAN countries and elsewhere, and has offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hanoi, Manila and Bangkok, as well as significant experience in Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and India.
Myanmar Legal MHM is the Yangon office of Japanese law firm Mori Hamada Matsumoto. Partner Win Naing is a good source of advice on IP matters in Myanmar. He has more than two decades of experience, and has been an Advocate of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar since 1997. Myanmar Legal Services Limited is a local, general practice law firm, where Khin Cho Kyi, the firm’s managing director, is a well-respected lawyer with extensive contacts in government.
Myanmar Premier International and sister firm Siam Premier International are known in the region for providing sound advice. The firm provides a full range of legal services with the focus on foreign investment and transactional advisory, including IP matters, to a diverse group of domestic and international clients.
Myanmar Trademark and Patent Law Firm represents global brands Adidas, Campari, GE, Honda, Nokia, Panasonic, Volkswagen and others in Myanmar. Senior advocate and firm co-founder Thein Aung is a key contact. Rajah & Tann NK Legal is the Myanmar branch of regional firm Rajah & Tann. U Nyien Kyw founded NK Legal in 1980 and is a respected business lawyer. Rouse opened its Yangon office in November 2013. It offers patent, design and trademark filing and prosecution and portfolio management as well as a
strong focus on IP commercialization, licensing and technology transfer. Senior IP lawyer Moe Mynn Thu and country manager Fabrice Mattei are key contacts.
Regional firm Tilleke & Gibbins has particular strength in intellectual property in its Yangon office. The Myanmar practice is supported by a team of more than 150 lawyers and consultants spread across five other countries. Yuwadee Thean-ngarm is a director and key contact; in 2017, she was elected secretary-general of the Thai Business Association of Myanmar, further strengthening an already significant platform for advocacy of IP legislative development and the firm’s ties with the Myanmar business community. Notable clients include Bayer, CBS Corporation, Red Bull, Siam Cement and Sanofi.
U Myint Lwin Law Office is one of the most reliable firms in the country, with founder Myint Lwin providing consistent, high-quality service. The firm, which was founded in 1994, works with domestic and international clients in obtaining and maintaining trademark registrations. The firm was named the Asia IP intellectual property practice of the year for Myanmar in 2020.
U Nyunt Tin Associates has been collecting copies of the cautionary notices published in Myanmar’s newspapers for more than 50 years, and has what may be the country’s only trademark searching system.
U Tin Yu & Associates is one of the oldest law firms in Myanmar. It is particularly noted for its expertise in litigation. Associate Hnin Ei Ei Aung is a key IP contact for matters including registration and protection of the Declaration of Ownership of the trademarks and trade names, and other IP rights.
Regional law firm VDB Loi is skilled in areas such as international trade, licensing and regulatory law and foreign investment. It is a leader in the telecommunications sector, having advised on a multi-billion-dollar telecom investment. The firm employs over 40 lawyers and advisors in Yangon, and has an office in Naypyidaw.
Formerly Ma Khin Kyi Law Office, Win Mu Tin is one of the leading Intellectual Property law offices in Myanmar. Its office has been providing IP legal services to domestic and international clients, particularly in registering, maintaining and renewing Trade Marks, Patents and Designs in Myanmar.
The telecommunications, media and technology team at Wint & Partners (formerly known as Polastri Wint & Partners) has advised a leading telecommunications equipment manufacturer in setting up operations in Myanmar, and a Myanmar public company and a leading tower sharing company based in Indonesia in relation to the construction and management of its telecommunications tower network in Myanmar. The firm also has a good reputation as a business law firm.
ZICO Law Myanmar, the ASEAN-centred network of Kuala Lumpur-based Zaid Ibrahim & Co, has an office in Yangon. ZICO Law Myanmar’s practices include communications, media and technology, corporate commercial and law reform. “ZICOlaw is uniquely ASEAN and has offices in Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. Growing the practice regionally and providing clients with services which are seamless across the region will be our next big challenge,” Kuala Lumpur-based partner Siew Ling Su tells Asia IP.