The Gowling WLG Intellectual Property (IP) Moot is Singapore’s only Intellectual Property mooting competition, organized by the NUS Law Mooting and Debating Club (MDC). Proudly sponsored by Gowling WLG and JurisAsia LLC, and supported by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, all finalists this year were awarded attractive internships and cash prizes. As an award truly worthy of a winner, the champion of this year’s moot walked away with a global internship at any of Gowling WLG’s worldwide offices.
With such attractive prizes, it’s no wonder this year’s finalists gave it their all in an intense exchange of legal mastery. With the Moot in its second year, the stakes were upped with, for the first time, a fierce school vs school battle format, and a challenging moot problem that made sure Finalists were dealing with issues out of their usual range.
The Moot Problem
This year’s moot problem focused on trademark issues pertaining to an action by Hell Ranger (S) Pte. Ltd. (Respondent) against Hill Ranger Sdn Bhd (Appellant). The subject matter concerned keyword advertising, or “Ad-Words”, a service provided by search engine providers like Google that enable businesses to purchase keywords that attract consumers to the business’ website. The problem contemplated the difficult question that arises when a business (Hill Ranger) purchases an Ad-Word that is the trademark of its competitor (Hell Ranger).
The first issue was concerned with whether the Appellant had used the Respondent’s trademark, and if so, whether it would affect the functions of the trademark. The second issue revolved around whether the Respondent’s trademark was well known to the public at large in Singapore and following that, whether the Appellant had taken unfair advantage of the trade mark’s distinctive character.
The Finalists mooted before a five-speaker bench consisting of judges that were true veterans in the IP field.
Appointed to the Supreme Court bench as judicial commissioner in August 2017, The Honourable Justice Aedit Abdullah has long been a respected figure in the legal fraternity. After graduating with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, Justice Abdullah began his career as a Justice’s Law Clerk. He has previously taught at the NUS Faculty of Law, before rejoining the Singapore Legal Service and carving out an extremely well-regarded career.
Mr Denis Croze is Director of the Singapore Office of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). His work covers the harmonization of the Intellectual Property practice in Southeast Asia. Having previously headed the Multilateral Affairs Department of the French Patent and Trademark Office in Paris, Mr Croze’s career has brought him all over the globe.
Mr. Mark Lim is Chief Legal Counsel and Director of Hearings and Mediation at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Following his graduation from NUS Law in 1994, he has practised in the area of IP throughout his career — a true veteran of Singapore IP Law.
Flying down from the UK just to judge the Gowling Grand Finals for the second year in a row is Mr. Gordon Harris, Co-Head of Intellectual Property at Gowling WLG. A feisty IP litigator with many groundbreaking cases under his belt, Mr. Harris has litigated in the UK and European Courts, including going to the Supreme Court to change over 100 years of patent law.
A familiar face for the finalists and past participants, Sheena Jacob is Managing Director of JurisAsia LLC. She is a leading IP and technology lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience in the field. Cutting-edge and complex IP litigation matters are all in a day’s work for her. She has previously judged both preliminary and semi-final rounds of the Gowling WLG IP Moot.
For the first time, the moot was conducted in a school vs school battle format. The Moot Court was transformed into a battleground between the top two students from the National University of Singapore and the top two students from the Singapore Management University.
Speaking for the appellants and giving the respondents a difficult hill to climb were Elizabeth Teoh (NUS, Y2) and Ryan Kwan (NUS, Y2).
The respondents definitely didn’t back down come hell or high water, as speaking for them were Lingesh Kumar (SMU, Y2) and Lyndon Seow (SMU, Y2).
Elizabeth and Lyndon mooted on the first issue, while Ryan and Lingesh crossed swords on the second issue.
The first speaker, Elizabeth, articulated her case before the court with finesse and passion. Elizabeth was the picture of elegance as she effortlessly substantiated her arguments with compelling statistics, standing unflinchingly under the intimidating inquiry of the bench.
Articulating his case in a measured and thorough manner, the second speaker, Lyndon, remained unfrazzled in the face of the judges’ tough probing. His thoughtful responses to the judges’ questioning reflected a thorough understanding of the law and his striking ability to think fast on his feet.
The third speaker was Ryan Kwan, who laid out his thoughtful arguments with skill and confidence. Ryan was someone who clearly had the law on the back of his hand, and this was apparent in his impressively expert responses to the judges’ intense line of questioning. Unyielding to the immense pressure, Ryan fought his client’s case with a persuasive fluency and an intense fire.
As the last speaker, Lingesh was clearly not one to back down from a challenge. Lingesh fervently articulated his points, standing his ground even when the judges caught on to a slight blunder. Props to him for manoeuvring his way around this tricky situation!
Before the highly anticipated reveal of the champion for the evening, the judges commended the finalists for their persuasive arguments and expert knowledge of IP Law. Understanding the intricacies of IP was no mean feat considering the tight deadlines of the moot, and the fact that none of them had taken any IP modules.
A moment of silence was given for the late Professor Elizabeth Ng Siew Kuan, a respected and outstanding veteran educator in the IP field, and a dear colleague to many on the bench and in the audience.
The tension in the air could be cut with a sword as the audience waited with bated breath for the results. The silence was broken by applause as Lyndon and Lingesh were announced joint second runners-up.
Thunderous applause resounded throughout the Moot Court as Elizabeth took home 1st runner-up.
And finally, Ryan Kwan was crowned champion, a prize that was undoubtedly well-deserved.
Congratulations to all our winners at the Gowling WLG IP Moot 2018!
Photography by: Dikaios Pang (Y1)
Article by: Gwendolyn Oh (Y1)