Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has opened a new office in Taipei focusing primarily on intellectual property work.

IP partners David Tsai and Christopher Kao will split their time between San Francisco and Taipei. Tsai and Kao both joined Pillsbury in May from Vinson & Elkins to lead a Taiwan practice.

Kao, a U.S. trial lawyer, represents clients in patent infringement cases and other high-stakes commercial litigation before district and federal courts. He joined Vinson & Elkins in 2015 as managing partner in Palo Alto, California, and in 2016 he helped launch a Taipei office for the Houston-based firm alongside Tsai. Before Vinson & Elkins, Kao was a partner with Perkins Coie and led the firm’s Palo Alto office.

Tsai advises clients on patent-related matters, including litigation, licensing and overall IP strategy. He moved to Vinson & Elkins with Kao from Perkins Coie, but mostly worked out of San Francisco.

This is Pillsbury’s second office in Taiwan; in 2004, legacy Shaw Pittman opened an IP-focused Taipei office in association with local firm Chien Yeh Law Offices but the combined Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman soon closed the outpost following the 2005 merger.

Only a handful of U.S. firms have physical offices in Taipei and most of those firms practice U.S. commercial and IP law; they do not advise on local law. K&L Gates, Baker McKenzie and Jones Day are the only U.S. firms that practice Taiwanese law with locally qualified lawyers. The rest of the U.S. firms with a presence there—Vinson & Elkins, Duane Morris, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner—have kept their offices lean and use them mainly for depositions and to meet and interact with clients.

Kao and Tsai said they will spend at least a week every month in the Taipei office, and partners from other offices, such as Shanghai-based IP partner Jack Ko, also a Perkins Coie alumnus, will also fly in to meet Taiwanese clients.

“One of the first questions a lot of the clients ask us is if we have a Taiwan office,” said Tsai, who has worked together with Kao for a decade representing Taiwanese companies. Kao said the Taipei office is a natural extension of the firm’s overall Asian commitment and he expects frequent cross-office collaborations with partners in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Kao said his team has close relationships with several Taiwanese law firms and doesn’t see the need for Pillsbury to practice local law in Taipei.

Pillsbury has 25 lawyers in Asia across Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.