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Keeping Pace with the Era with Open and Modest Mind

Linda LIU
Linda Liu & Partners

In a few days, on August 18, 2016, Linda Liu & Partners will embrace its 13th anniversary. Looking back to the 13-year journey, we Linda Liu people are happy to say that we have lived every season along the way to the full. On each day of the 13 years, we lived with caution and diligence, pondering on how to fulfill each task with perfection, how to answer each consultation to the greatest extent, and how to solve the problems that cannot be evaded. As the President of Linda Liu & Partners, I would like to take the opportunity of the anniversary to probe into the following six questions, sharing my preliminary views; hopefully I can hear the valuable thoughts from you, our peers in the IP field, our friends who care about Linda Liu & Partners, and our staff.

I. How to Increase Real Strength of Linda Liu & Partners

The main job of an IP firm is to provide IP-related professional services to enterprises. Therefore, the strength of a firm is an indispensable criterion in evaluating the level of the firm. Clients may have dynamic views for the firms that they are using. A comparative example is choosing clothes that suit us in daily lives. We may not choose a brand of clothing just because we have used it for years. Instead, we constantly adjust our selections along with age, changes of temperament and perception of life. Likewise, an enterprise, when choosing an IP firm, would firstly consider if this firm can satisfy its current urgent needs or not. Therefore, the real strength or the competitive strength of a professional IP firm is directly linked to the value its work or service provides to a client, not to public praise.

After 13 years of development, we are still as confident as we were in the early days of Linda Liu & Partners concerning our competitive strength. From now on, we will quantify such strength with specific evaluation criteria, which we will objectively analyze and timely adjust along with the development. . To survive in the era of fierce competitions, Linda Liu & Partners should hold an open mind to welcome scrutiny from clients, and have a modest mind to learn from our peers in the IP field. We do not dare to talk about the height that we could reach because good survival is a prerequisite of and often indicates good development.

II. How to Increase Charismas of a Firm and its Partners

In my opinion, the outward and inward charismas of a firm as well as of the leaders in the firm are part of the total earnings or the competitive strength of the firm. Usually the business volume, fees charged from clients, and various expenses are considered in determining the overall profit and individual compensation. We often forgot about the contribution of the charismas to the revenue, which, as a matter of fact, reflects the real competitive strength and value of the firm.

Outward and inward charismas of a firm come from three aspects: first and foremost, the firm’s capability of continuous and stable development; second, the firm’s ability to make timely and voluntary adjustment to the changes; and third, the firm’s open and happy attitude towards requirements of change from clients and its own staff.

Outward and inward charismas of partners of an IP firm account for a large part in the overall charisma of a firm. It is not limited to top partners who need to make decisions. Any other partners have their charismas connected to the future development and vitality of the firm.

Primary-level members, as the majority in the firm, not only work with middle management, but also directly cooperate with partners sometimes. Their communication targets are usually the management in the firm, not clients. Therefore, their working spirit and trust in the firm rely more on work interaction and communication with the partners. The spirit they see in the partners and the feedbacks they get will influence their positioning and decision for their future.

From this point, Linda Liu & Partners has already realized that its partners need to rapidly grow into open-minded and reliable leaders for the firm members and appealing and trustworthy partners for clients. The lead learning, adjustment and self-reflection of these partners will vitally affect the future of the firm. In the future, Linda Liu & Partners will keep expanding the team of partners, cultivating young partners, and forming a culture in which young, middle-aged and senior partners learn and grow together.

III. How to Develop Remarkably in the IP Field through Increasing Self-feeding Capability

Today is an era of rapid development and fast adjustment for every trade. Even I who was born in the 1960s deeply feel that self-feeding is more important than in any time in the past. There are just too many talented people around, and it is not uncommon to see the necessity to outgrow yourself.

Beijing has become a world renowned city with a huge market. While many people regard New York, London and Tokyo as important cities, Beijing has become more important than them in some aspects. As a metropolis containing a great number of Fortune 500 companies, Beijing has the speed of changes and number of talents as fast and large as no other city. It attracts attention from all over the world. It is also a city where old talents and information quickly get obsolete.

Any information without timely utilization would lose its value in a blink of an eye. Any person who is highly capable today would dwindle to mediocrity several years later if he/she does not improve fast enough or does not have new knowledge suitable for new needs. I feel deeply for this and encourage my colleagues to realize this and start self-feeding in a timely way.

When facing the needs of clients, we cannot simply assign the work according to titles of position. Titles cannot determine what you can do. It is decided by one’s own ability. For me, I would want to reset myself and grow myself every day in the next ten years. I should not feel contented just because my title is president of Linda Liu & Partners. Instead, I should humbly and diligently learn from people around me and listen to clients’ aspirations. This is my way of survival.

IV. Who are Practitioners in the IP Field at Present

I attended the 2nd National Patent Agent Qualification Examination (PAQE) in 1994. The testing center was located in Tianjin at that time. Back then, practitioners of IP fields were mainly teachers from universities with years of experiences or outstanding personnel from scientific research institutes. They had excellent communication competence, self-learning ability and self-management skill, and many of those who took PAQE together with me became presidents or backbones of various firms afterwards. I’m always pondering a question: how could our generation, without as many advantages as the people now, make our way to success and extend our passion and youth in the career till now? The answer I can find out is that we deeply knew about our weakness and deficiency, therefore, we needed to constantly extend our capabilities, improve our charisma, and play our capability of management to the full.

The constitution of people in the IP field nowadays has changed a lot compared to back then. Many young patent and trademark attorneys enter the IP field directly after graduation from universities, or after just a few years of working in research institutes. Therefore, frankly speaking, many young IP practitioners do not have rich scientific research experiences. They are quick at learning and very smart. However, due to relatively short working experience, they may not have sufficient self-management skills and right judgement in times of difficulty, and may not be prepared enough for a long-term endeavor, although they may have clear goals – this probably is a problem that the new generation of IP shares. With this, the young generation may look fragile and not tough enough to keep to their goals, or they may decide on the next goal too easily. In addition, in the information expanding time as today, everybody seems to pass on information more than they digest it. As time passes, capabilities of finding and solving problems which outstanding talents must possess would be impaired, and some day we may find out sadly that the beautiful goals and reasonable rules we set out from the beginning have vanished.

As your friends, I sincerely hope that ten years from now, the people that I value now will stay in the field and grow to be leading figures in the field.

Therefore, I recommend that young people study deeper in their work and communicate deeper with clients on certain technologies, so that they can become first-class patent attorneys. I expect that young patent attorneys know more about their own strengths, no matter what position they are currently at. For example, a patent attorney should strive to be good at patent drafting, patent prosecution, patent invalidation or patent infringement litigation, and periodically estimate his/her strength, and continuously deeper his/her precise understanding of new technologies and application of law. Such capabilities will help a patent attorney who has high self-expectations to correctly make layout for him/her in the future. This layout does not target at specific job positions but expertise. In my opinion, only in this way can we tell ourselves that we are expected to realize continued development in the next 10 or 20 years. Please let me know if you have any views or comments.

V. How can IP Practitioners Contribute to the Development of the Field

When talking about this question, we are actually talking about heart. China’s development by now benefits from the existence of many outstanding Chinese enterprises. These enterprises played their roles in the society, and leaders of these enterprises also fulfilled their social responsibilities as entrepreneurs. Heart is not a big concept but a wide one. The heart of a person for his/her family, employer, or as big as the society determines the love he/she receives. If a person only cares about him or herself, he/she would receive limited care from the outside. On the contrary, if a person has concern for the whole society, he/she will be recognized and concerned back by the whole society. For example, we often feel for some entrepreneurs who are total strangers to us, and we care about their enterprises. This is because what they have done won our respect. They made many positive and active contributions to the development and mature of our society, making us feel that many great things of the society come from their selfless contribution and sincere exploration. It is important to think about how one achieves development. If an entity does not think about it and does not care about how to contribute to its industry, it would lose its position and development in this industry.

Any enterprise that could get developed depends on a good social system and industrial organization. From the history of capitalism in Europe in the last hundreds of years, we can see that countries including the Netherlands and Germany chose to open the gate for the development of certain industries, by improving the capitalist system in those industries so that many companies could grow. Either the Netherlands or Germany benefited from it. Today in China there is a good system as the Chinese enterprises have the most opportunities in the history. Under such circumstances, how to explore these opportunities rather than merely grow one’s own business has become a necessary thing to consider. Everybody in Linda Liu & Partners should not give up the duty as the duty is transient. In other words, there are only limited opportunities for a person, an enterprise to fulfil their duty and demonstrate their positions in the industry and society. If such opportunities are lost and no contribution is made, you will regret in the future that you gave up your own mission and slack off in your responsibilities.

VI. Where is the Happiness for IP Practitioners

As a matter of fact, we all experience happiness and unhappiness every day. Some people may think that they live in a middle area where they have both happiness and dissatisfaction but not much positive energy. For myself, I meet difficulty every day and also have my moments of joy. I choose to amplify my feeling of joy and treat trouble as a chance for growth. Such attitude was learned from my father. In my opinion, a positive attitude towards life is a reflection of one’s cultivation as well as worldview and understanding of happiness.

How to define happiness is arguable in today’s China. Happiness means differently to me on different stages of my life. In my thirties, I was eager to find my life path, and happiness meant learning opportunities, working experiences, recognition from others, and higher salaries. In my forties, I was busy building up my team, and happiness meant establishing Linda Liu team as soon as possible, knowing and understanding client’s needs, and satisfaction from my staff. At present when I entered the fifties, I see cultivation of young people as my top responsibility. Honestly, from forty to fifty, I have cared a lot about how other people think of me, and were beset by dissatisfaction deep inside me. Here you may understand my largest distress during that period -- fear and extreme lack of confidence that troubled me for ten years. Many people who met me thought I was peaceful and happy,, yet in fact, I was not happy.

The source of my unhappiness was in myself, not others. One major reason was that Linda Liu & Partners developed so fast and my knowledge, talent and experience were not enough for me to lead such a firm with so many great talents and clients. How to change the situation? How to repay the trust and love from the industry, our clients and my team? There is only one answer: striving to develop, experiencing and learning tirelessly, being open-minded in learning, and keeping on fighting. I have the best team in the world – Linda Liu & Partners, I have outstanding and loyal clients, and fundamentally, I have a great teacher, Mr. Chixue WEI. Anytime I looked around, Mr. Wei’s support and attention have always kept me self-adjusting and firmly moving forward.

The experience I gained in the past ten years was summarized as the title of this essay: keep pace with the era with an open and modest mind! I kept two of my advantages during the ten years. Firstly, I am a sunny person. I can happily interact with people who criticize me. I was not troubled by criticisms of others or teachings from clients,and I often regarded others’ misunderstandings as their understandings of me. Looking back, this should be one of my natural character strengths. Secondly, I seldom have arrogance, as I always know that I only have average capability and an IQ even below average – this was told by my father. But he also believed that I understood the importance of efforts more than many people. There is boldness and childishness in my character, and I like to spoil myself and friends who spoil me. However, deep inside, I am still calm and humble, and know my own problems. “Correcting your problems is your own business. If you don’t do it, you will not go steadily in the future”, my father’s words echo in my ears every day.

My greatest gain in the last ten years is that, on the day I entered my fifties, I found that my unhappiness was gone! With the fierce competition nowadays, Linda Liu & Partners may face some problems. There are various kinds of competitions imported into China, both healthy and vicious. As a firm with boots on the ground, Linda Liu & Partners and I should face up to the problems. The Linda today is no longer panicked or scared, as she has spent ten struggling years adjusting herself. So let me tell you that you will be happy, as happiness comes from unhappiness, struggle and elevation after self-reflection.

One that experiences no difficulty enjoys no big success. A person will not reach long-term peace without going through successive disturbances. Staying in the middle area is meaningless and very harmful. We must confront the road we have chosen, and we must face the real environment. I hope that all practitioners in IP field will establish their own standards of happiness, set up their life goals, and dare to embrace all tasks coming from the goals. To elevate and sharpen yourself, then summarize and recognize yourself. On the day that you recognized yourself, you will find that you are the happiest person in the world!

Lastly, I, on behalf of all members of Linda Liu & Partners, would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our clients who used us, constantly guided us, and taught us through the 13-year journey, all our friends in the IP field and other fields, families of members of Linda Liu & Partners, and all our former colleagues who used to work in Linda Liu & Partners! I sincerely hope that we can have more opportunities to exchange views and advance together with you, as we have a common goal: pursuit of happiness. Let us be happy, repay and contribute more to the society and the future world! Thank you very much.


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