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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Why Not?

When I was literally young, my goal was to equip myself in every possible way for the future. My academic and professional qualifications evidenced my sound knowledge base. I was called to the Hong Kong Bar in 1985, began my criminal, civil and judicial review court appearances from Magistracies to the Court of Appeal before I was asked by a visionary colleague to turn to something new and more impactful at a higher level.

In 2004, I was asked by the World Trade Organization (WTO) legal secretariat if I would help settle two international trade disputes concerning European Communities' Regulations on trademarks and geographical indications. In my personal capacity as a WTO Dispute Settlement Panelist, I resolved the conflict at Geneva within a year by applying general legal principles in the special circumstances of the cases, and internal conflict among panelists as an in-built "mediator". It was unusual that the disputants (ie United States and Australia versus the European Communities) accepted the Panel Report and did not appeal.

In 2015, I became an Arbitrator of the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration at the request of its President. Although I chose to study Mainland Chinese laws at the Hong Kong University in the early 1980s, it was beyond my expectation that I would actually practise it in arbitration-mediation-arbitration proceedings in China. It has been a unique experience to me at the Greater China level.

During my decades of tenure at the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department, I gave my colleagues full support including conducting some trademark opposition hearings that they felt uncomfortable to undertake. I signed off mechanically, but held accountable, thousands and thousands of registration certificates as the Registrar of Patents, Designs, Trade Marks and Copyright Licensing Bodies in Hong Kong, China. So when a New York friend knowing about my consultancy, mediation and arbitration services wanted to introduce US clients to me in trademark agency services in all proceedings of the Hong Kong Trade Marks Registry, a mantra came up to my mind: "Why not?"

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