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.

Firms in the Spotlight Intellectual property: Independent local firms

SUGIMURA & Partners

SUGIMURA & Partners logo

SUGIMURA & Partners is a leading intellectual property law firm in Japan. The firm was founded in 1923 initially as SUGIMURA International Patent & Trademark Attorneys, and has been relaunched as of 1 March 2017 as SUGIMURA & Partners, with enhancement of its legal services. SUGIMURA has earned a reputation for high quality and is …

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Intellectual property: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune ’s intellectual property practice group offers strong patent, trademark, and copyright expertise both in transactional work and disputes, with close ties to other groups in firm to provide a comprehensive IP offering. Capitalising on the varied scientific and technical experience of its attorneys, the group possesses deep knowledge and expertise in the electronics, machinery, telecommunications, chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. The firm has also expanded with the launch of a foreign law joint enterprise in 2021, expanding the firm’s cross-border capabilities in jurisdictions such as the US, UK, and Mainland China. The group is headed by Yasufumi Shiroyama, and co-led by a number of IP practitioners who are specialists within their own right. Yoshikazu Iwase is a patent litigation and licensing specialist; Akihito Nakamachi, dual US (New York and California) and Japan qualified lawyer; Wataru Shimizu, who’s recent expertise includes IP matters in emerging economies. Miki Goto, Masayuki Yamanouchi, and Makoto Ono have scientific backgrounds as well as legal expertise, and advise on trademark and technology antitrust issues, trade secrets and pharmaceutical patent infringements, and patent matters in the biochemical, agrochemical and food engineering industry respectively.

Testimonials

‘This firm is sure to meet deadlines, and we can usually get reports ahead of the requested deadline. We will also be provided with a wealth of accurate legal information supported by the firm’s network of lawyers. The quality of each lawyer and the diversity of specialties in this firm are its strengths.’

‘Miki Goto – reliable and trustworthy. very responsive and diligent.’

Key clients

Toyota Motor Corporation

Murata Machinery (Muratec)

Mochida Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd.

DENSO CORPORATION

Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.

JTEKT CORPORATION

ADVICS CO., LTD.

USHIO INC.

BluE Nexus Corporation

Taiyo Holdings Co., LTd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Firstface Co., Ltd. on import suspension actions against Apple Japan before Tokyo Customs.
  • Represented Firstface in patent infringement lawsuit.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Considered as one of Japan’s leading firms for IP litigation, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s IP team has significant experience in handling infringement cases involving patents, designs, trademark and copyright in invalidation trials, appeals, and interventions. With both an international and Japan based litigation practice, it has expertise in the globalisation of corporate business and IP disputes within the technology and life sciences sectors. The transaction practice represents clients in joint research, development, and technology transfer agreements. In addition, the firm also offers IP management; it advises on control systems and internal policies/procedures for both start-ups and large corporations. The team is co-led by Yutaka Miyoshi  – a disputes expert across all types of IP and in related technology transactions; and Yoshifumi Onodera , who is also an expert in dispute resolution as well as arbitration and licensing with a biology and chemistry background. Atsushi Okada  is also a name of note.

Practice head(s):

Yutaka Miyoshi; Yoshifumi Onodera

Other key lawyers:

Atsushi Okada

Testimonials

‘The IP team in MHM contains experienced lawyers. The interesting uniqueness is their junior lawyers. They are very positive and self-motivated. They come with their own ideas to partners without any barriers and they also take the lead. This helps MHM providing quick and clear communication and services to clients and their advice is always well discussed internally.’

‘I work with Atsushi Okada very often for IP matters as he has deep knowledge especially in the Life Sciences area. He is always responsive and he delivers good communication and idea to our clients. Our lawyers and our clients are happy with his experiences and support. There is an associate from their IP team who is based in our Munich office as a secondee at the moment. His name is Hideaki Kuwahara who is also a great lawyer. He is very detailed when he works on matters, very reliable and very considerate. He is always positive and motivated.’

Key clients

Pfizer Japan Inc.

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

Mitsuba Corporation

Koei Techmo

Shiseido Company, Limited

Yayoi Kusama Foundation and Ms. Yayoi Kusama (one of the world’s most famous artists)

JAPAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

Work highlights

  • Advising Shiseido Company, Limited in various, significant IP related legal matters.
  • Advising iconic Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and her foundation to protect copyrights and any of intellectual property rights of her works and name.
  • Acting for Japan Football Association in various legal services which includes filing trademark applications for logos for national teams and consultation services in various jurisdictions.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Superior in huge, multilateral international cases’ the Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu IP practice group covers the breadth of litigation and transactional matters, due diligence, R&D agreements, and licensing. Notable individuals at the firm include Shunji Matsuda , who advises private corporates and public sector agencies. Kenji Tosaki is active in the pharmaceutical sector, particularly  in litigation. In addition, Keiji Tonomura has experience in representing global and local clients in TMT IP-related matters. The team manages an impressive client list of household names, with recent matters including litigation involving the well-known Mario brand in the Supreme Court.

Other key lawyers:

Shunji Matsuda; Kenji Tosaki; Keiji Tonomura

Testimonials

‘The Japanese practice the level of English understood by the team is great. The team has great understanding of the law and usually supported by patent attorney team for technical aspects.’

‘Kenji Tosaki is the stand-out partner for the team. He is hard working and responsive all hours which is great for foreign clients.’

‘Shunji Matsuda-sensei is a great lawyer in this field.’

‘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 high-quality work and intense communication with foreign clients.’

Key clients

Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Nichia Corporation

Sanofi

Isuzu Motors Limited

Panasonic

Nissan Chemical

FP Corporation

COOLKNOT JAPAN INC.

Twitter Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Nintendo successfully in a well-publicized IP litigation matter in Japan, where Nintendo filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court on February 24, 2017, against Maricar Inc., a Japanese company that gave its customers the experience of driving through various cities in Japan wearing the costumes of Nintendo’s famous characters, such as Mario.
  • Represented the co-owners of a Japanse 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‘s IP practice offers the capacity to deal with current and emerging legal issues related to domestic and international IP related changes. The team regularly collaborates with tangential teams to provide a comprehensive service, such as the tax and commercial and corporate teams. The firm regularly advises clients on matters involving AI, the IoT, as well as the media and entertainment sectors. The trademark side of the practice is often instructed in prosecution and enforcements in infringement and anti-counterfeiting, brand protection, and regulatory oversight. Yoshiyuki Miyashita is the head of the practice, who’s expertise includes transactions and dispute settlement across TMT sectors. Hitomi Iwase leads the trademark division, covering the technology, life-sciences, healthcare, entertainment and fashion industries. Hiroshi Suga also has litigation experience, particularly in IP licensing matters and information management.

Practice head(s):

Yoshiyuki Miyashita

Other key lawyers:

Hitomi Iwase; Hiroshi Suga

Key clients

Dentsu Inc.

The Asahi Shimbun Company

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation

Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented Amazon Services International, Inc. (an affiliate of Amazon. com, Inc.) before the Tokyo District Court brought by a copyright holder/licensor (“Plaintiff”) who alleges that our client’s failure to distribute the Plaintiff’s content constitutes a tort and breach of contract.
  • Advised Takeda on the sale of its subsidiary, Takeda Consumer Healthcare, to an acquisition company controlled by funds managed by The Blackstone Group Inc. and its affiliates for JPY 242 billion (approx. USD 2.3 billion).
  • Represented a building contractor (patentee & plaintiff); on November 13, 2020, we commenced a patent infringement lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court against one of the infringers of a patent for the method and apparatus for removing asbestos-containing material from wall surfaces.

TMI Associates

TMI Associates’s IP practice covers the full spectrum of IP related matters and has a powerful contentious and transactional practice. Adept in infringement litigation, invalidation trials and appeals and suspensions/injunctions, the attorneys have extensive knowledge, particularly in the entertainment and media sectors. The transaction arm of the practice also has extensive experience in the media sector, alongside technology, sports, and IT-related business inside and outside of Japan in matters such as licensing and manufacturing agreements, content distribution, and e-commerce. Katsuro Tanaka and Tomohiro Tohyama lead the practice jointly, and both have expertise in contentious and non-contentious IP matters. Also of note is Mitsuko Miyagawa, a trademark, design, copyright, and trade secret expert.

Practice head(s):

Katsuro Tanaka; Tomohiro Tohyama

Other key lawyers:

Mitsuko Miyagawa

Work highlights

  • Representing Kyoto City University of Arts in the appeal proceedings at the Osaka High Court.

Abe, Ikubo & Katayama

IP infringement and procurement specialists, Abe, Ikubo & Katayama’s IP practice is jointly led by Eiji Katayama and Hiroshi Kobayashi. It offers an experienced set of litigators and patent attorneys with experitise in the life sciences, bio/technology, electronics, and chemicals industries. Comfortable with cross-border matters, the team advises on infringement litigation, invalidity trials, Hantei proceedings, and licensing, within the aforementioned industries for both domestic and international clients. Katayama-san’s guidance comes from broad expertise of IP adjacent corporate matters related to the pharmaceuticals industry. Benrishi Kobayashi-san also provides expertise in the polymers and agrochemical industries.

Practice head(s):

Eiji Katayama; Hiroshi Kobayashi

Key clients

Apple

Novartis

Eli Lilly

Johnson & Johnson

Sharp

Dow Chemical

Suntory

Takeda

Astellas

Komatsu

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai offers a comprehensive IP and IT practice experienced in licence transactions, dispute resolution and litigation in relation to patent rights, trademarks, copyright and the Unfair Competition Prevention Law. The IP&IT practice group handles patent, trademark and other intellectual property disputes involving clients from a range of industries, both Japanese and foreign. The team is co-led by registered foreign lawyer Ian Stanley Scott  and Chie Kasahara.

Practice head(s):

Ian Stanley Scott; Chie Kasahara.

Nakamura & Partners

Nakamura & Partners is an international patent and law firm whose IP offering includes advice and services related to patents, designs, and trademark rights, both in domestic and international matters. The team is co-led by Shinichiro Tanaka ; Hiroyuki Itaki; Hiroyuki Suda; Yasufumi Yamamoto; Kazuo Yamasaki and Mitsuru Matsushita.

Practice head(s):

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

Key clients

Sony Corporation

FUIFILM Corporation

Mazda Motor Corporation

TDK Corporation

Hirose Electric Co., Ltd.

SAZABY LEAGUE, Ltd.

MIZUNO Corporation

KUBOTA

‘Exceptionally dedicated’ boutique firm KUBOTA is highly regarded for its patent and trademark practice.It is led by founding partner Eiichiro Kubota, a patent and trademark litigation expert. The patent litigation arm of the firm specialises in bio/pharmaceuticals for both domestic and foreign originator companies in patent invalidation cases. The trademark side of the practice acts for Japanese clients on overseas protection and portfolio management. Yusuke Inui is also adept in the former area, while Emiko Yano is a core practitioner in the life sciences aspects of the practice. Kiyoko Nakaoka offers strong technical expertise for high-end patent litigation while associate Tomoko Honami  is also of note.

Practice head(s):

Eiichiro Kubota

Other key lawyers:

Kiyoko Nakaoka; Emiko Yano; Yusuke Inui; Tomoko Honami

Testimonials

‘We have been working with Kubota for more than 7 years and we consider that their services are provided with the highest quality in Japan, giving complete opinions and always providing excellent results.’

‘We would like to remark the exceptional dedication and commitment that Eichiro KubYusuke Inuiota has with his clients in order achieve their goals, he always found the way to overcome any difficulties.’

‘The trademark practice is outstanding and they always provide us with solutions and high standards.

Key clients

Merck

Regeneron/Bayer

Honeywell

Apple

Patagonia

Starbucks

Kokuyo

Nike

IP Bridge

Broad Institute

Work highlights

  • Advising Broad Institute in appeals and oppositions of the CRISPR Cas9 patents for the client.
  • Advising IP Bridge in patent proceedings against ASUS which is a Taiwanese mobile phone manufacturer.
  • Assisting Starbucks by conducting consumer survey on the green concentric circle (without the Seiren) of the old Starbucks logo in an appeal to the IP High Court.

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Joining the rankings this year, Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners is a full service firm with both Tokyo and Osaka offices. The firm’s IP group offers a strong transactional practice with extensive experience in the fields of chemistry, biotechnology, pharmacy, machinery and entertainment. In addition, the team handles a large number of negotiations and lawsuits regarding unfair competition and trade secrets. The IP group also advises on various types of proceedings both before the Japan Patent Office and overseas. The department is led by Takamitsu Shigetomi, a licensing and litigation specialist. Also of note are Toshiya Furusho and Takashi Hirose.

Practice head(s):

Takamitsu Shigetomi

Other key lawyers:

Toshiya Furusho; Takashi Hirose

Shusaku Yamamoto Patent Law Offices

Shusaku Yamamoto Patent Law Offices is regarded as a one-stop solution to patent matters with an integrated litigation, regulatory and commercial practice. Focusing on technology and IT, the firm’s practice operates a trademark litigation, licensing, and patent prosecution practice comprising bengoshi, benrishi, and technology specialists, who cover a breadth of technically specific industries and areas across IT, health, technology and commercial sectors. Shusaku Yamamoto is head of the patent prosecution team, whilst Kensaku Yamamoto leads the litigation and corporate negotiation contingent.

Practice head(s):

Shusaku Yamamoto; Kensaku Yamamoto

Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office

Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office offers both IP litigation/enforcement and prosecution services. The firm offers both cross-border and multi-jurisdictional expertise in IP and IP-related matters. The practice is co-led by Felix-Reinhard Einsel , Hiroshi Morita , Shogo Matsunaga , Junichi Maekawa , Rui Ueshima , Hiroyasu Ninomiya  and Hideo Nagashima .

Practice head(s):

Felix-Reinhard Einsel; Hiroshi Morita; Shogo Matsunaga; Junichi Maekawa; Rui Ueshima; Hiroyasu Ninomiya; Hideo Nagashima

Hiroe & Associates

Hiroe & Associates’ IP offering covers the gamut of services in patents, industrial designs, copyright, and trademarks. The firm provides high quality services within the pharmaceutical, biotechnological, and chemical industries in domestic and cross border matters. Chairman and managing partner Takenori Hiroe  specialises in IP rights disputes, particularly in the areas of textile engineering, copyright, and unfair competition cases. Also of note, are co-leader Masanori Hiroe and Satoshi Hashimoto , head of patents at the firm. Hiroe has expertise in trademark applications, appeals, cancellations and oppositions. Hashimoto’s areas of expertise includes electrical engineering, software, semiconductors and computers.

Practice head(s):

Takenori Hiroe; Masanori Hiroe; Satoshi Hashimoto

Testimonials

‘The team always replies to our inquires in more detail and sooner than other firms.’

‘Our firm has been cooperating with HIROE AND ASSOCIATES for over fifteen years, and Mr. Takenori HIROE is our main contact person. During this period, he always handled our firm’s cases very professionally and provided helpful comments to ensure our cases would be granted.’

 

Yuasa and Hara

Yuasa and Hara’s IP offering specialises in disputes related to technology and science. The firm handles various cases related to patent, trademark, and design rights. The team is led by former chief judge of the Intellectual Property High Court Toshiaki Iimura.

ZeLo, a Foreign Law Joint Enterprise

Established in 2020, the ZeLo, a Foreign Law Joint Enterprise IP group provides IP management, and strategic advice to its clients. The team handles patents and trademark filings, license agreement negotiations and other IP-related due diligence for corporate transactions. The team routinely advises on fintech applications, with particular expertise in blockchain technology and other crypto assets for both domestic and cross-border matters. The team is led by Takahiro Aoki, who has extensive experience in patent matters in the life sciences IT, and IoT technical fields.

Practice head(s):

Takahiro Aoki

Testimonials

ZeLo provides a reasonable and quick response to us in relation to IP fields. ZeLo’s patent attorney’s and other staff’s are relatively young but they have a full range of knowledge and knowhow of IP related matters and they can assist us every time in a timely manner when we need.’

Mr. Aoki is our contact attorney and he is very efficient and communicative person. We appreciate his response and his management of ZeLo’s team members. Their team is small but very productive.’

ZeLo has a good combination of corporate attorneys and patent attorneys. ZeLo has a good patent attorneys/paralegals capability and their response is quite timely and helpful. Although the size of ZeLo is not the biggest but it can provide us a good quality advice in patent registration and also IP strategy views for us.’

‘Takahiro Aoki is a distinguished patent attorney who can handle the matters very efficiently utilizing other staff members and other corporate lawyers. He has a good knowledge of markets and our company and is very reliable and trustworthy. He explains the complicated matters in well sorted out style and he is very accessible.