German firm did so well here it shifted HQ from Munich to Singapore

Mr Martin Schweiger, who runs an international firm of patent attorneys here, competed at the Singapore Powerlifting Open last year. He gave up his German citizenship and is now a Singapore citizen.
Mr Martin Schweiger, who runs an international firm of patent attorneys here, competed at the Singapore Powerlifting Open last year. He gave up his German citizenship and is now a Singapore citizen. PHOTO: SHAUN PANG

German-born Martin Schweiger's practice, Schweiger & Partners, is an international firm with a difference.

Unlike other firms that deal in multiple areas, the firm of attorneys deals solely with patents and trademark law, placing a premium on intellectual property.

"We started in Munich in 1996, then set up a foreign branch in Singapore in 2001 and the branch did so well that we shifted our headquarters from Germany to Singapore in 2005. Actually, I like Singapore so much that I gave up my German citizenship, and am now a Singapore citizen. Singapore is home for me," said Mr Schweiger, 55, the firm's chief executive officer.

"We are a foreign firm that does intellectual property law. Our patent attorneys are all certified in Singapore as well as in Germany and the European Union. In fact, we make much more money by being a specialist patents firm instead of trying to do everything," he said.

Mr Schweiger stressed the firm does not see itself as competition for local law firms as it focuses only in the specialised area of intellectual property (IP).

"So we sit at a very specific, niche point on the value chain."

The firm was also both supplier and service provider for local law firms, referring new business to them, if its clients needed more than IP services, for example.

He added that the firm was also more automated than many others.

He said: "A few years back, we decided that we had nothing to lose. We leveraged technology and automated whatever we could; we're data-driven and we have a strong emphasis on personal relationships with clients.

"Covid-19 really was just the final push - it wasn't difficult for our lawyers to do remote work. We have daily online meetings with both the Singapore and Munich teams, and that is usually enough to keep us all on track. In fact, now that the circuit breaker is over, we're planning to reduce our office space by 60 per cent."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2020, with the headline 'German firm did so well here it shifted HQ from Munich to S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe