Chang said Kilpatrick decided on Shanghai instead of Beijing, where many U.S. firms open offices, because the majority of the firm's China clients are there. He takes a high-speed train to see clients in Beijing, 4 1/2 hours away.
Chang said the firm's Chinese clients are mostly electronics and semiconductor manufacturers. They also include medical device companies that are starting to sell their products outside of China. Kilpatrick handles their IP prosecution and litigation in the United States.
"As more Chinese companies move beyond the domestic market and start to sell in the U.S., they are becoming subject to a lot more litigation," Chang said.
"At the same time, a lot of U.S. companies are moving not just their manufacturing to China -- which is starting to get a little expensive -- but also their research and development. They like to have their U.S. patent attorneys on the ground in China to speak to their inventors and technology people."
One Chinese client is Semiconductor Manufacturing International China. Kilpatrick also does China-related work for U.S. clients including Lowe's, Oxford Industries and Neusoft Corp.
Chang said intellectual property law and enforcement has "matured significantly" in China over the last five years, spurred by the country's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
He said Chinese policymakers have increased the focus on developing homegrown IP. As more IP suits have been brought, the Chinese judiciary and bar have become more experienced in adjudicating them.
"I see more patent cases being filed in the large cities and more uniformity in how they are handled," Chang said, adding that he thinks there is a "much more level playing field" now for IP rights in China's large cities.
Chang's move to Shanghai to open Kilpatrick's new office is a return to his roots. He said his father was born in Shanghai but emigrated in 1948, right before China's revolution.
He speaks a little Chinese, adding that most or all of the Chinese companies he represents have English speakers, while Gray, his associate, speaks fluent Mandarin. "I continue to work on it," Chang said.