Established on November 1, 1985, TOPTEAM International Patent & Trademark Office (TOPTEAM) experienced radical changes and transformations as a young company trekking through the IP wilderness to maturity. While expanding its business, TOPTEAM also succeeded in confirming its business philosophy and development direction over the years. From a small office at the pioneering stage to a mid-sized enterprise of 200 employees, TOPTEAM’s evolution can be divided into the following four stages: pioneering stage (1985-1994); rapid growth stage (1995-2010); maturity stage (2011-2019); and multi-development stage (2020-the present ).

Pioneering Stage (1985)

TOPTEAM was founded by its current sole owner Mr. Henry C.W. Hong on November 1, 1985 and was officially registered on March 1, 1986. TOPTEAM was originally established as a partnership firm and there were fewer than 20 staff members at the very beginning.

At the time, the patent environment in Taiwan was a wilderness. The few existing patent agencies primarily engaged in patent imports, namely assisting global companies in obtaining patents in Taiwan by translating foreign patent specifications. On top of that, the patent demand of domestic companies at the time focused mostly on mechanical inventions, lack of chemical, electrical and other types of inventions few people heard of patent right protection.

As patent import cases were usually awarded to bigger, reputed patent agencies than small ones, when considering TOPTEAM’s future prospects, Mr. Hong decided to concentrate on cross-border patent prosecution, helping Taiwanese companies to obtain foreign patent rights for their inventions. He led TOPTEAM’s patent engineers to focus efforts on patent drafting in Chinese, English and Japanese, and to accumulate practical experience in patent filings and strategy planning. As the majority of TOPTEAM’s patent engineers at the pioneering stage were graduated from Taiwan’s top universities (National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chiao Tung University and National Cheng Kung University), their extraordinary performance truly facilitated the growth of TOPTEAM.

Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) was one of TOPTEAM’s important clients in the early days. The firm initially assisted its Mechanical & Mechatronics Systems Research Laboratories in obtaining domestic and international patents. TOPTEAM’s performance was well recognized and then able to expand its service network to other ITRI laboratories (such as Green Energy & Environment; Material & Chemical; Biomedical Technology & Devices; Information & Communications; and Electronic & Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories) and even to the high-technology industry that appeared later, such as the global foundry and transnational computer industries. Today, TOPTEAM still has a very strong relationship with these clients.

In the third year, TOPTEAM was also recognized by Mitsubishi Electric in Japan as a qualified partner. This partnership, which continues today, opened the door for TOPTEAM to the Japanese market.

Rapid Growth Stage (1995)

After a change to TOPTEAM’s share structure in 1995, TOPTEAM relocated to the center of Taipei City. With a joint effort by Mr. Hong and colleagues, TOPTEAM managed to increase the number of employees from 30 to 120, and the annual volume of domestic and international patent applications to four digits.

At the time that the firm kept enhancing its skills and experience in patent drafting and cross-border prosecutions, TOPTEAM gradually leapfrogged over its rivals to a leading position in volume of international patent applications. Client cases from Japan, applying for patent protection in Taiwan, also flourished. Taking Mitsubishi Electric as a starting point, Mr. Hong succeeded in building a reputation in East Asia through clients’ recommendations and referral as well as direct sales efforts.

In this stage, our client base in Taiwan was fast growing, too. TOPTEAM began to partner with leading international research institutes and top transnational tech companies in the foundry, IC design, information technology, telecommunications, consumer electronics and cloud computing industries.

TOPTEAM greatly values the development of expertise; the firm not merely helped employees strengthen their expertise and service capabilities but also supported domestic clients to penetrate international markets. By offering consistent high-quality services, we contribute ourselves to the development of the technology sector in Taiwan.

Maturity Stage (2011)

After years of rapid growth, the office space back then was no longer sufficient for our operations. In 2011, TOPTEAM was relocated to Nangang Software Park to further upgrade our office capacity and speed up our investments in IT software and infrastructure for the following development. We also set up offices in mainland China. At this stage, Mr. Hong has become the sole owner of TOPTEAM. He set up a managing committee with executives to construct a dynamic and comprehensive decision-making mechanism.

Since then, TOPTEAM has put an effort into expanding its in-house legal team which enables the firm to offer clients a full range of intellectual property right protection services, from patent search, analysis and investigation at the R&D stage; strategic planning and patent applications for R&D results; IP rights maintaining, monitoring, enforcement and dispute resolution; to litigation, legal opinions, consulting and other regulatory services.

TOPTEAM’s performance and experience now has been widely recognized and much valued by its clients and foreign associates and has attracted even more international companies to choose our services.

In order to have broader worldwide exposure, the firm has participated in top law firm rankings which are held by leading legal media outlet Chambers and Partner, Legal 500, Managing IP Star and IAM. These annual rankings, compiled by independent researchers, analyze information about law firms, individuals, the marketplace and service feedback. TOPTEAM has been ranked the highest level since 2012, for its patent prosecution practice in Taiwan and overseas.

To keep in close contact with our partners overseas and access latest IPR information at first hand, TOPTEAM frequently takes part in international exchange activities held by, for example, the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), International Trademark Association (INTA), Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA) and European Communities Trademark Association (ECTA). What is more, many of TOPTEAM’s attorneys are senior members of the Taiwan Patent Attorney Association (TWPAA) and the Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA). They lead or sit on standing committees, which organize major events, facilitate networking as well as promote Taiwan’s IPR services to the world.

In 2016, Mr. Hong established the Hong Shui Shu Charity Foundation in response to a religious calling. The reason behind it is expressing our gratitude to Taiwan’s society for its supportive environment that allows TOPTEAM to achieve sustainable success. So as a way of giving back to the community, the foundation has been working with government welfare agencies and NGOs and provides material and financial resources for individuals and families in need.

Multi-Development Stage (2020)

To accommodate future growth, TOPTEAM continues to invest all kinds of resources in the development of internal expertise, including but not limited to cutting-edge technologies, applicable laws and regulations, industry insights, language proficiency, professional or any advanced qualification, etc. Above all, we pass on the spirit of craftsmanship, particularly the honesty and integrity of TOPTEAM’s corporate culture that our clients can rely on.

For the road ahead, with uncertainty in the regional and global trading environment and the ever-changing innovation economy, we believe IP Right Strategies is still the core of competition between business rivals. And we are confident that the technical frontiers advanced by new inventions and new ideas will also set the new dimensions for our services. With whatever it takes, TOPTEAM always stand by our clients.