Leading Individuals: Gaiben

Next Generation Partners: Bengoshi

Firms To Watch: Intellectual property: Independent local firms

Aoyama & Partners’ intellectual property practice handles the full range of IP matters both domestically and internationally, with offices in Tokyo and Osaka. The firm’s expertise covers a broad range of technical areas, including life sciences, chemistry and materials science, electronics and IT, and mechanical engingeering.
Ohtsuka Patent Office intellectual property group contains a mix of patent attorneys and engineers with relevant academic backgrounds and industry experience, handling patent prosecution and portfolio management, trademark and design consulting, and IP litigation.
Sakurazaka Law Offices’ intellectual property practice has expertise across the spectrum of IP, advising on patent, copyright, trademark, and design litigation, licenses, infringement, and trade secrets.
Patents and trademark law firm SUGIMURA & Partners is noted for for its wealth of experience representing domestic and international clients in IP disputes before the Japanese Patent Office and the IP High Court. Key contacts include Kenji Sugimura and Koji Sugimura.

Firms in the Spotlight Intellectual property: Independent local firms

SUGIMURA & Partners

SUGIMURA & Partners logo

Since its inception in 1923, SUGIMURA & Partners has been dedicated to the IP protection needs of our clients, through which we have built a reputation for excellence within the IP field. In particular, SUGIMURA strives to offer a full spectrum of high-quality IP legal services to meet the diverse needs of our domestic and …

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Intellectual property: Independent local firms in Japan

Abe, Ikubo & Katayama

Abe, Ikubo & Katayama has strength in both IP infringement litigation and IP procurements, with experience representing major domestic and multinational clients. The department has a particularly strong offering in the pharmaceuticals sector, but its coverage also includes biotech, software, telecommunications and electronics. Eiji Katayama, whose practice includes trademark, copyright, and unfair competition litigation, co-leads the team alongside Hiroshi Kobayashi, whose history with Dow Chemical and Pfizer Japan has built significant expertise in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and chemicals. Also key within the team are the dual US (New York) and Japan qualified Mami Hino, commercial dispute specialist Junichi Kitahara, and Makoto Hattori, whose area of expertise is patent and trade secret litigation.

Practice head(s):

Eiji Katayama; Hiroshi Kobayashi

Other key lawyers:

Mami Hino; Junichi Kitahara; Makoto Hattori


‘The team’s footwork is light and very easy to reach out to. They also feel free to respond to customer requests and provide appropriate advice.’

‘Attorneys have abundant practical experiences in patents and patent proceedings, and in addition to their experiences, they provide appropriate advice from past cases, precedents, etc.’

‘The practice has a diverse talent, which allows the practice to provide a wide range of IP service and meet clients’ needs.’

Key clients



Eli Lilly

Johnson & Johnson


Dow Chemical





Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune‘s intellectual property department contains both bengoshi and dedicated benrishi, with experience across patents, trademarks and copyright law. The team handles high value multijurisdictional matters for high-profile clients, with significant experience in both disputes and transactional matters. This includes broad sector expertise, with proficiency across the chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology industries. Yasufumi Shiroyama heads the practice, co-leading the team alongside a diverse team of IP experts. These include Yoshikazu Iwase, who has litigation expertise across patent infringement and revocation suits, Akihito Nakamachi, who is dual US (New York and California) and Japan qualified, and is particularly focused on the technology sector, and Wataru Shimizu, whose broad practice includes industry-university cooperation and intellectual property management. Also co-leading are Miki Goto, who covers patents, licensing, trade secrets, and trademarks, Masayuki Yamanouchi, who specialises in the pharmaceutical sector, and Nobuto Shirane, who handles patent litigation and licensing.

Practice head(s):

Yasufumi Shiroyama; Yoshikazu Iwase; Akihito Nakamachi; Wataru Shimizu; Miki Goto; Masayuki Yamanouchi; Nobuto Shirane


‘The team is cabable for any kinds of IP cases including IP violation analysis and litigation. They have litigation professionals including IP litigation lawyers as well as patent attorneys. So, they can represent the client before the court and the JPO.’

‘Mr. Shiroyama has sufficient and various experience in the IP field and he also updates himself with new precedents and theories. He is very flexible and accomodates with the client’s request with confidence.’

‘The lawyers are competent, confident, comprehensive, yet customer friendly. They work hard and their response is normally immediate and proper. The team can be always organized anew to fit best to the cases and the diversified talent of lawyers is impressive.’

‘Mr. Shiroyama is a partner of AMT, and he is a seasoned lawyer who always finds the best balance to meet customer’s complicated needs. He can control lawsuits and negotiations so that the team is organised to offer the best solution to each individual case.’

‘Knowledge and experience are at a very high level. Mr. Shiroyama is a particularly outstanding partner.’

‘They can understand not only what we (a client) think and want and also what professional service should be provided through a dialogue with the client. They are also excellent at communication not only in Japanese but in English, which is really helpful for us, working within a global organization.’

‘Mr. Miki Goto, one of Partners, is excellent to work with. He is excellent to communicate not only Japanese and but also in English, which is great for us to work together in a global team.’

Key clients

Toyota Motor Corporation

Murata Machinery (Muratec)

Mochida Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd.


Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.




BluE Nexus Corporation

Taiyo Holdings Co., LTd.


Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto‘s well regarded intellectual property team covers all relevant areas of intellectual property, with significant experience in infringement cases involving patents, design patents, trademarks and copyrights, invalidation trials, appeals, and employee interventions. The department represents both domestic and multinational clients, and has the depth to support these both globally and before the highest Japanese courts. Yutaka Miyoshi, who has broad disputes expertise across patent litigation, copyright litigation, and trade secret litigation, co-leads the department alongside Yoshifumi Onodera, who is experienced in both domestic and international dipute resolution and arbitration, particularly across China and other Asian countries. Also co-leading is Atsushi Okada, who covers IP infringement litigation, IP transactions and data protection. Associate Hideaki Kuwahara is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Yutaka Miyoshi; Yoshifumi Onodera; Atsushi Okada

Other key lawyers:

Hideaki Kuwahara


‘IP team of MHM is eager to understand the characteristics and requirements of the clients and try to coordinate the necessary resources including legal advices from legal counsels outside Japan and provide the requested advices.’

‘We trust Mr. Yoshifumi Onodera as an experienced IP partner, who has in-depth knowledge about IP laws and cases, China practice and litigation. His attitude to learn each client’s aims in its business field and collaborate with the client to reach the goal is really excellent.’

‘Very powerful and experienced team for patent litigation and licensing matters, integrated in a broader full service practice which allows them to cover also antitrust matters and related matters.’

‘Mori Hamada & Matsumoto listens kindly and makes precise comments for our question.’

‘Correspondence is superior to other law offices and leads to the solutions to problems quickly.’

‘Atsushi Okada responds faster than other lawyers and gives us the exact answer we seek.’

Key clients

Pfizer Japan Inc.

Hospira Japan Co., Ltd. (currently Pfizer Japan, Inc.)

Mitsuba Corporation

Koei Techmo

Shiseido Company, Limited


Work highlights

  • Representing Shiseido Company, Limited, one of the global leaders in beauty and personal care, in respect to a wide range of their most important intellectula property matters.
  • Handling major discount retailer Pan Pacific International Holdings Corporation’s worldwide trademark prosecutions.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu covers both litigation and transactions, and has notable expertise in the technology sector, able to cover IP matters related to artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain technology. The well regarded team attracts both major domestic and multinational clients. Core team members include Shunji Matsuda, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the practice area, and handles high value litigation matters for high profile clients. Former Tokyo District Court judge Kenji Tosaki is also key, and specialises in representing clients in litigation within the pharmaceutical industry. Keiji Tonomura is also noted for his experience on complex cross-border matters, and work within the TMT sector.

Other key lawyers:

Shunji Matsuda; Kenji Tosaki; Keiji Tonomura


‘We believe Nagashima’s IP deparment is superior in international cases to other firms’ teams, especially in huge, multi-lateral cases.’

‘Nagashima has a large number of IP attorneys who have a rich experience in the U.S. IP firms.’

‘They have a capacity to handle big international cases, while keeping its high-quality level and intense communication with foreign clients.’

‘Mr. Matsuda’s thoughtful advice from both legal and business point of views help the team to make right decisions in proceedings. He is an excellent communicater and, through conversation with his clients and foreign colleagues, he can identify central issues in each aspect of the proceedings and suggest a practical solution.’

‘The team has a lot of experience involved up to the highest level (Japanese Supreme Court) on intellectual property litigation matters.’

‘Kenji Tosaki is the leading partner at the firm. He can be little reserved but very tenacious and diligent. His English is also quite good which is not always the case with Japanese law firms.’

‘Leading partner Shunji Matsuda is one of the greatest IP attourneys in Japan, and understands well about regulations and trends of the relavent statutes which will helpful for all of his clients.’

Key clients

Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Nichia Corporation

Novartis Pharma K.K.

Isuzu Motors Limited

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Twitter Inc.

KOYO Automatic Machine Co., Ltd.

Nippon Steel Engineering Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented Nintendo successfully in an IP litigation matter in Japan, where Nintendo filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court on February 24, 2017, against Maricar Inc.
  • Represented the co-owners of a Japanese patent covering Patanol in a case concerning the JPO’s decision on the request for an invalidation trial to invalidate the patent.

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi provides strategic advice on a diverse set of matters, including major transactions, corporate disputes, and large-scale IP lawsuits. The department has notable strength in media and entertainment, but has broad sector expertise which includes the technology, pharmaceutical, and life sciences industries. Clients include a range of high profile Japanese clients, including numerous names active on a global scale. Co-leading the team are Yoshiyuki Miyashita, who has significant experience working on IP matters across the TMT sectors, and Hitomi Iwase, who handles trademarks, patents, and copyrights in a wide range of sectors. Yoko Kasai is a name to note, with a practice which focuses on corporate transactions involving complex intellectual property issues. Gai Matsushita joined to firm on 1 April.

Practice head(s):

Yoshiyuki Miyashita

Other key lawyers:

Hitomi Iwase; Yoko Kasai

Key clients

Dentsu Inc.

The Asahi Shimbun Company

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation

Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Toho Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Takeda on the sale of its subsidiary, Takeda Consumer Healthcare, to The Blackstone Group Inc. and its affiliates.
  • Advised Heartseed, a Japanese biotech start-up, on a global collaboration and licensing agreement with Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk A/S; the agreement relates to a stem cell-based therapy for heart failure.
  • Advised Amazon on a lawsuit before the Tokyo District Court, brought by a copyright holder/licensor who alleges that Amazon’s failure to distribute the Plaintiff’s content constitutes a tort and breach of contract.

TMI Associates

TMI Associates‘excellent team’ covers the full range of contentious and transactional IP matters, with expertise in a range of industries including media, sports, and technology. The department acts for a number of high profile clients, including Dr. Marten brand owner Airwair International. Katsuro Tanaka and Tomohiro Tohyama lead the team, which includes Mitsuko Miyagawa, who has more than 30 years’ experience handling trademarks, designs, copyrights and trade secrets, and Makoto Okada, who is an expert in patent disputes.

Other key lawyers:

Mitsuko Miyagawa; Makoto Okada


‘The team has consistently prepared well-structured, beautiful briefs in timely manner, with which I am quite impressed.’

‘The team has good relationships with the court and patent office, leading to a good result.’

‘The team consists of competent and talented members, and they have amicable personalities.’

‘What makes them stand out is that they are not only highly capable but also affable.’

‘An excellent team, in which each attorney has a unique background.’

Work highlights

  • Providing all the legal advice to the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Advised Airwair International on the application of the trademark registration under the brand of “Dr. Martens”.
  • Advised Airwair International on the unfair competition litigation.

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai advises on domestic and cross-border contractual arrangements across all areas of IP law, including patent rights, trademark rights, design rights and copyrights. The team also has experience handling the IP elements of corporate transactions and joint ventures. Chie Kasahara is lead manager for the department, and has more than 20 years’ experience working on IP matters related to TMT and life sciences. Harukuni Ito works with Kasahara as a sub manager. Ito has broad experience which inlcudes brand protection, disputes and litigation, and transactions. Gai Matsushita has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Chie Kasahara; Harukuni Ito


KUBOTA‘s well regarded patent and trademark practice is known for its strength in both contentious and non contentious matters, with significant experience across portfolio management, enforcement, customs actions, and prosecution. Founding partner Eiichiro Kubota has worked in the area for more than 20 years. Other core team members include benrishi Emiko Yano, whose particular area of expertise is the pharmaceutical industry, and Kiyoko Nakaoka, who specialises in the protection of IP, most notably patent litigation and anti-counterfeits. Associate Tomoko Honami is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Eiichiro Kubota

Other key lawyers:

Kiyoko Nakaoka; Emiko Yano; Yusuke Inui; Tomoko Honami

Key clients


Fast Retailing





Aerie Pharmaceuticals



Solas OLED Ltd.

Nakamura & Partners

Nakamura & Partners consists of both patent attorneys and lawyers, with dedicated teams which facilitate broad sector coverage. The team’s strength across patents, designs, and trademark rights has attracted a number of high profile clients, including both multinational corporations and high-net-worth individuals. Shinichiro Tanaka leads the legal section within the department, working alongside Daisaku Fujikura, who leads on trademarks, electronics head Hiroyuki Suda, mechanical team lead Yasufumi Yamamoto, chemical & biotechnology lead Kazuo Yamasaki, and head of design Hiroko Suzuki.

Practice head(s):

Shinichiro Tanaka; Hiroyuki Itaki; Hiroyuki Suda; Yasufumi Yamamoto; Kazuo Yamasaki; Mitsuru Matsushita

Other key lawyers:

Hideki Takaishi

Key clients

Sony Corporation

FUIFILM Corporation

Mazda Motor Corporation

TDK Corporation

Hirose Electric Co., Ltd.


MIZUNO Corporation

Work highlights

  • Defended the KDDI Corporation in a case filed by GPNE seeking JPY 100 million, as a partial claim for unjust enrichment of JPY 154 billion.
  • Defended Ono Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd, in a case filed by a plaintiff seeking confirmation that he is one of the inventors of a Nobel Prize winning invention, and the transfer of the registration of partial ownership of the patent.

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners‘ IP department operates as part of the firm’s full service offering, with expertise in transactions and licensing agreements, in addition to a significant IP dispute resolution practice. Takamitsu Shigetomi leads the team, and is active on both licensing and litigation in a broad range of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, mechanical engineering and computer software. Also key are Toshiya Furusho, who covers patent, trademark, design, copyright and unfair competition, and Takashi Hirose, who handles international IP transactions and litigations.

Practice head(s):

Takamitsu Shigetomi

Other key lawyers:

Toshiya Furusho; Takashi Hirose

Shusaku Yamamoto Patent Law Offices

Shusaku Yamamoto Patent Law Offices‘ large team offers a comprehensive one-stop solution to the full range of intellectual property matters, with expertise across regulatory, commercial, and dispute resolution matters. The life sciences and pharmaceutical industries are a particular area of focus, with the department highly active for major multinational clients. Managing partner Kensaku Yamamoto is a thought leader on corporate law, intellectual property and the life sciences. Shusaku Yamamoto has a broad practice, which includes the development of patent and trademark portfolios, risk assessment, and the enforcement of IP rights. Legal director Laarni Q. Vinas is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Kensaku Yamamoto

Other key lawyers:

Shusaku Yamamoto; Laarni Q. Vinas

Hiroe & Associates

Hiroe & Associates provides a diverse range of IP services, including patents, trademarks, copyright, unfair competition and prosecution. Chairman and managing partner Takenori Hiroe has experience in all areas of IP, and particularly focuses on unfair competition cases and IP rights disputes. He co-leads the team with managing partner Masanori Hiroe, who handles trademark applications, appeals, cancellations, and oppositions; and Satoshi Hashimoto, who works on patent infringement suits, internet-related copyright infringement cases, and contract drafting.

Practice head(s):

Takenori Hiroe; Masanori Hiroe; Satoshi Hashimoto


‘The Hiroe firm is an experienced and reliable IP Firm.’

‘They are able to handle a variety of technologies.’

‘They are flexible to work with in terms of case docketing/management.’

‘Mr. Satoshi Hashimoto provides great advice in patent prosecution strategies.’

ZeLo, a Foreign Law Joint Enterprise

ZeLo, a Foreign Law Joint Enterprise‘s IP team was established in 2020, and is particularly active in the technology and start-ups sector, providing the full range of IP services. The department is led by Takahiro Aoki, who joined from Anderson Mori & Tomotsune in January 2020. Aoki has particular expertise in the life sciences, fintech, and biotech sectors. The team has grown further with the addition of patent attorney Takeshi Momma in February 2021. Momma, who joins from Ashida & Kimura Patent Attorneys, has more than 30 years’ experience in the practice area.

Practice head(s):

Takahiro Aoki

Other key lawyers:

Takeshi Momma


‘They are not only experts, but also have a business mindset, and their support is in line with the growth of our business, which is very helpful. Therefore, I can count on them as a reassuring partner.’

‘Our patent attorney, Mr. Takahiro Aoki, always responds quickly and appropriately to our needs with his knowledge and business mindset backed up by his extensive in-house experience.’

‘I think their strength is a rich overseas network. They have strong connections to the Middle East and Africa, which is unique.’