Japan: Domestic

In the face of falling patent filing numbers in Japan, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) has introduced novel measures to encourage entrepreneurs to consider investing in the country. To combat its lack of presence in the alternative dispute resolution sphere, in September 2018 the Japanese authorities established the first specialised IP arbitration hub in Asia: the International Arbitration Center in Tokyo, which features former judges from various courts around the world. Moreover, a practical, non-legally binding guide to licence negotiations involving SEPs was published earlier in June, in an attempt to bring more clarity to companies operating in this area. The JPO has also extended the grace period (ie, the length of time that inventions can be filed after their initial public release without it being considered a prior art issue) from six to 12 months for patents and utility models. It has further plans to extend design patent protection by five years, to 25 years. Japan is a jurisdiction where companies have traditionally shied away from IP litigation, but law firms have recently noted a more positive attitude towards aggressive courtroom action. The main technical growth areas this year have been pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Firms: litigation

  • Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Nakamura & Partners
  • Nishimura & Asahi
  • OHNO & PARTNERS
  • STW & Partners
  • TMI Associates 
  • YUASA and HARA 
  • Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
  • Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
  • Sakurazaka Law Offices

Firms: prosecution

Firms: transactions

  • Highly recommended
  • Nishimura & Asahi
  • Recommended
  • Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
  • Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
  • Nakamura & Partners
  • OHNO & PARTNERS
  • TMI Associates 
  • YUASA and HARA 

Abe, Ikubo & Katayama

As “one of the best full-service outfits in the country”, Abe, Ikubo & Katayama enjoys an unparalleled reputation both in Japan and overseas: “The team is insightful and responsive; practitioners’ communication abilities are invaluable.” There is close collaboration between the firm’s 27 internationally experienced and bilingual patent attorneys and its IP lawyers as they pull together to tackle high-profile pharmaceutical disputes on behalf of originators and to advise foreign clients on global litigation strategies. The “talented and business-minded” Eiji Katayama leaves his peers in awe. Admitted to both the Japanese and New York bars, the trained engineer specialises in representing multinational corporations in their highest-stakes cross-border disputes. Gold-tier litigator Junichi Kitahara is a tenacious advocate with an impressive track record at the IP High Court. He recently secured a valuable victory for Kowa Co Ltd and reversed a district court decision on behalf of Valeo, where he also obtained a permanent injunction against an infringer. Together with the “very practical and smart” Mami Hino, he has represented AbbVie in an invalidation trial before the Japan Patent Office (JPO). One patron is full of praise for Hino: “Thanks to her time spent in the United States, Mami has an excellent grasp of American culture and her English is fantastic. Explaining the local laws and culture to clients across the pond can be difficult but she knows how to bridge that divide and explains difficult issues well.” After a 14-year stint as chief patent counsel for both Dow Japan and Pfizer Japan, Hiroshi Kobayashi set up the firm’s prosecution division and has been spearheading it since 2001. The “top-notch quality of his applications” and his deep pharmaceutical and chemical expertise are a major draw for many industry hard-hitters.

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Full-service heavyweight Anderson Mori & Tomotsune can call on some of the best IP experts in town. The team “stands out in the industry, not only for its niche expertise in digital health but also for its provision of real-world solutions, up-to-the-minute legal advice and first-rate client care”; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals are areas of particular strength for the 35-member unit. A revered figure on the legal landscape, department head and New York-qualified lawyer Yoshikazu Iwase regularly represents Fortune 500 companies embroiled in heated global disputes. He is also a force to be reckoned with at the negotiating table. One overseas associate waxes lyrical about his colleague Yasufumi Shiroyama. “If I could pick any practitioner to represent me, I would go to him – he is simply brilliant.” Both making their first appearances in the guide this year, Miki Goto and Masayuki Yamanouchi have exceptional legal and scientific backgrounds. “Miki understands how medical technology works and how significant IP issues are in that field. He is super approachable, hardworking and his responsiveness and attention to detail are legendary.” Yamanouchi also assists clients in the life sciences arena, where he recently helped TAIYO HOLDINGS secure an asset purchase agreement worth around Y21 billion. Completing the squad, agrochemicals aficionado Makoto Ono translates decades of experience into immaculate drafts, every time.

Aoyama & Partners

“Aoyama & Partners’ combination of international expertise and deeply detailed service makes it an outstanding patent prosecution powerhouse.” The firm’s “reliable and professional team” of 90 attorneys ensures that it maintains its first-class reputation in the life sciences, biotech and chemistry industries, due in no small part to practitioners’ quick turnaround and first-rate attention to detail. One impressed peer comments that “the firm is very knowledgeable about US patent requirements, so hits the ground running when it works for American clients”. With Norihito Yamao and Hiroshi Tamura leading the way, the patent enforcement practice grows stronger by the day. A material science specialist, Yamao excels at prosecuting European patents and has a keen eye for complex dispute strategy. Recently, he teamed up with Tamura to successfully represent Nichia Corporation in an infringement battle involving its famed YAG white LED patent. Tamura “is immensely knowledgeable in the electrochemistry field” and can navigate the intricacies of cross-border disputes. “He is one of the most dedicated and reliable attorneys that I have ever met during my career,” says one client. “Hiroshi always leads the discussion and moves it in the right direction. He knows how to manage clients’ expectations well and has built a strong and successful team around him.”

Asamura Patent Office PC

Founded 128 years ago – only five years after Japan first developed its patent system – Asamura Patent Office is the oldest and best-known IP firm in the country. It has built rock-solid relationships with over 200 correspondent firms around the world to facilitate superb overseas filing, an area that accounts for 45% of its work volume. The other half consists of domestic applications, on behalf of both local and multinational clients from a wide range of sectors. “One of the top prosecutors” in the country, senior adviser Kiyoshi Asamura has been plying his trade for over five decades. He is a fount of wisdom for his colleagues Yoichi Inoue and Yoshiteru Mizumoto, who draft ironclad applications in the chemical and mechanical engineering industries respectively. The firm has also been stepping up its litigation capacities of late, through a partnership with ASAMURA Law Offices. Its 37-strong technical team has been working hand in hand with seasoned litigators, leading to outstanding courtroom results.

Fukami Patent Office

“Famed for its skill in the mechanical field, Fukami Patent Office is serious about its work – you cannot go wrong when choosing to instruct it,” according to one international peer. One of the top filers in Japan, the outfit also prosecutes patents in over 180 other jurisdictions and is always looking to enhance its prowess in other technical areas. As a former deputy commissioner at the JPO, Yoshitake Kihara is an excellent gateway to the firm for potential clients.

ITOH International Patent Office 

Having been a firm fixture on the Japanese IP scene for over half a century now, ITOH International Patent Office is known widely as a consistent and prolific filer of first-rate foreign applications. Although it started out specialising in electrical and mechanical patents, ITOH’s offering has expanded significantly to the point where it now takes on artificial intelligence and fintech instructions with confidence. The firm is home to a dedicated stable of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and US patent attorneys, as well as a team of technical specialists, who are always on standby to serve budding and established inventors alike. Firm president and mechatronics specialist Tadashige Itoh is a name for the address book of any serious rights holder.

Kyowa Patent and Law Office 

Kyowa Patent & Law Office has been operating like a well-oiled machine for over a century now. The firm shines brightest in the non-contentious sphere, with a long history of producing pristine patent applications across the chemical, mechanical and electrical sectors. Founded by a former JPO examiner, the boutique has always kept its clients’ concerns and interests at the heart of everything it does. Potentially interested parties should look no further than managing partner Hiroshi Nagai.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

The “excellent, commercially minded” Mori Hamada & Matsumoto offers a wall-to-wall patent service to those astute enough to enlist its assistance. Backed by an intricate network of offices across Asia, the firm has the wherewithal to execute complex infringement cases superbly – especially in the life sciences and IT arenas. Multinational corporations and research institutes alike count on the versatile unit to provide sparkling guidance, which hits its mark in both the courtroom and the backroom. German-speaking Takuya Iizuka is always on call to field patrons’ queries.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Never one to back down from an intricate, international or challenging dispute, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is also lauded for delivering crisp results in the transactional arena. Drawing on additional support from its strategically located offices in New York and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, the team also opens doors for domestic clients looking to assert their IP rights in fresh markets. Leaders of the Nagashima pack Ryoichi Mimura and Masato Tanaka bring profound experience to the table, gained during their time as judges at the IP High Court. A true “elder statesman” of patent litigation, the trilingual Mimura keeps a cool head in even the most trying of disputes; he excels in employee-invention compensation cases. As a professor and an appeal examination counsellor at the JPO, Tanaka leverages his encyclopaedic knowledge of intellectual property in order to “pack a punch in the courtroom”.

Nakamura & Partners

Quality is the be-all and end-all at Nakamura & Partners, an esteemed IP boutique that renders its patent services with technical precision and constant mindfulness of its clients’ commercial considerations. With a strong emphasis on close collaboration, its patent attorneys and lawyers work together to provide a seamless bean-to-cup offering across myriad technical fields. Nakamura & Partners’ non-contentious arm has much to recommend it. The electronics division has a strong leader in Hiroyuki Suda; a Japanese and US patent attorney, he channels over 20 years of experience into impressive performances in the most complex instructions. Operating in the electronics and IT space, Takeo Nasu is always poised and ready to prosecute domestic and foreign applications with aplomb. Having handled over 700 applications around the world, Hironobu Hattori is a crucial cog in the outfit’s chemical and biotech department whose granular experience never fails to yield results. The outfit’s legal arm is equally loaded with market-leading talent. Dual-qualified as a patent attorney and attorney at law, “energetic and highly respected” litigator Yoshio Kumakura dives into the nitty gritty of each case. Recently, he successfully defended Mitsubishi Paper Mills in injunction proceedings brought by the Kitazato Corporation. Described as “fantastic and reliable”, the New York-qualified Kazuhiko Yoshida is a tenacious advocate who knows how to drive a hard bargain and achieve stellar outcomes. Koichi Tsuji took the lead recently in the courtroom, defending KDDI in a suit brought by core appli inc, saving his client from damages claims of up to Y9 million.

Nishimura & Asahi

Having recently set up shop in New York, full-service commercial outfit Nishimura & Asahi now has a geographical reach with which few can compete – its offices also span Japan, East and Southeast Asia and the United Arab Emirates. This is a major boon for both domestic and foreign clients, who seek out the team for its impressive cross-border capabilities in litigation and consultancy instructions alike. Although both Yoshiyuki Miyashita and Hitomi Iwase enjoy glittering reputations in trademark circles, they are also extremely adept at patent work. “They are exceptional communicators, especially in English, and have a fantastic analytical ability that enables them to perform superior work for international clients.” Electronics and telecommunications sage Miyashita is a dab hand in dispute proceedings, whereas Iwase has a gimlet eye for IP-rich contracts of all types. Hers is a valuable presence indeed in transactional deals where the stakes are too high for the slightest error.

OHNO & PARTNERS

One-stop shop OHNO & PARTNERS is renowned for taking on challenging, precedent-setting cases with the potential to change the Japanese IP landscape. The firm continues to maintain its status as one of Japan’s premier choices for big-ticket disputes, a fact that is largely a result of the quality that it houses under its roof. Known for battling tirelessly in order to protect the interests of his patrons, Seiji Ohno leads the cohesive team of patent attorneys and lawyers. “He is a dynamic and incredibly strong attorney who always produces high-quality work. Seiji has a phenomenal reputation; his clients trust him deeply and rely on his talents heavily.” Over on the non-contentious side of the firm, patent attorney Ken-ichi Katayama brings 16 years of in-house experience at Showa Denko KK to the table. His electronics, semiconductors and optics filing is truly first rate.

Ohtsuka Patent Office 

Ohtsuka Patent Office has propelled itself to great heights since it was established 45 years ago and is now one of Japan’s leading firms for electronics, biotech and medical devices patent prosecution. More than just a filing shop, it also retains attorneys at law who are ever-ready to enter the courtroom when rights enforcement becomes necessary. Firm founder Yasunori Ohtsuka is a versatile practitioner who provides his medical devices and telecommunications clients with sterling 360-degree patent support. Patrons active in these technical fields generally look to enlist his services before the other side does.

Okuyama & Sasajima

From drafting plant variety specifications to classic patent filing, Okuyama & Sasajima ensures that every single application that leaves its office is watertight. Eschewing legalese in favour of clear, accessible language, the squad contains native English speakers and in-house translators so that overseas clients feel more at home. With a doctorate in physical chemistry under his belt, the second vice president of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property Shoichi Okuyama is a key contact for the address book.

RYUKA IP Law Firm

Founded in 1998, RYUKA IP Law Firm is “very active” in the Japanese prosecution scene, on behalf of clients that include global concerns from Korea, China and the United States. With an approach centred on thoroughly understanding inventions and the business requirements of their clients, the side’s 27 patent attorneys stand out for their close communication as well as their technical acuity in the electronics and software arenas. Alongside its drafting of applications for top Japanese companies, the team also provides a speedy and well-regarded translation service – much to the delight of overseas customers. An “incredible, smart, proactive and engaged person”, president and electrical engineering sage Aki Ryuka is qualified to practise in Japan and the United States. He is best-placed to field inquiries from potential patrons.

Sakurazaka Law Offices

Sakurazaka Law Offices earns itself a spot in our litigation rankings as a result of its “exceptional” capabilities in contentious IP matters. Founded in 2015, the Tokyo-based IP boutique may be young and compact, with only five attorneys, but opposing counsel underestimate its deep quality at their peril. Foremost among the firm’s practitioners is the “energetic and skilful” Harumi Kojo. Revered by her peers in Japan, she received her legal training at the University of Virginia before being appointed as an IP judge at the Tokyo High Court. Her practice now focuses solely on IP litigation, which is also the preferred domain of her colleague Tomohiko Makino – himself described as “a talented, creative IP attorney”.

Seiwa Patent & Law

Seiwa Patent & Law has a substantial patent practice that caters expertly to rights holders based in Japan and overseas. Spread across the metallurgy, mechanical, electronics, life science and chemical fields, close to 100 patent attorneys are involved in prosecuting and filing patents at the firm. Eight attorneys at law are also on hand if more robust rights enforcement is required. Head of life sciences Yoichi Watanabe is “both skilled and very experienced in Japanese matters”, according to one overseas associate. His “great experience in the life sciences arena” is a valuable asset to those who require the very best in patent representation.

Shiga International Patent Office

Now in its 53rd year of practice, Shiga International Patent Office seals its position at the top of the prosecution table by virtue of its “mature leadership and strong global network”. With a staff count of 730, including seven former examiners at the JPO, it is one of the top Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filers in Japan and an extremely prolific domestic filer to boot. Composed of 280 technical experts adept in chemistry, electronics, software and mechanical engineering, as well as 25 litigation specialists and 10 native English speakers and overseas-qualified practitioners, the team has the bandwidth to take on cases in every technical field – which it does time and time again on behalf of its largely domestic clientele. The side wins high praise from all corners of the Japanese market. “When we work with Shiga, we know we are working with the best; long-term clients rave about their first-class service. We have established a deep trust with the team over many years, and I am confident that our cases are in good hands and will be given attention and service of the highest quality.” “Of our network of local correspondents, they are the best.” “We have a good grant rate with them, and they provide an ideal balance between quality and cost.” “Our instructions have always been acknowledged in a timely fashion, and properly executed. In one case, our client specifically asked us to pass on their praise to Shiga for a job well done.” “The firm has a depth of practice that is unparalleled in Japanese patent law, and the quality and experience of its practitioners are unmatched.” Firm president Yasuhiko Murayama sits firmly in the driver’s seat. He possesses “in-depth knowledge, not only of Japanese IP practice, but also of IP practice in other jurisdictions” alongside “a truly impressive grasp of the English language that shines through in the translations he produces”. Yet more praise flows from those who have worked with him. “Since 2006, I have known him personally. While he is very down-to-earth, he is also extremely able as a patent attorney and a leader.” “I have worked with Murayama-san for over a decade now. He is a hard-working, patent-savvy attorney with a genuinely kind spirit and a positive attitude.” In the chemistry, biotech and pharmaceuticals spheres, Masato Iida is “an exceptional practitioner” who “goes the extra mile” to “deal with complex legal issues and provide clear, commercially driven advice”. “He has a deep understanding of both patent prosecution and case law, which sets him apart from most other Japanese practitioners.” “Able to distil complex patent law and practice issues into clear and concise terms, Masato can quickly outline the key issues that need to be considered.” Shinya Jitsuhiro is another of the firm’s standout performers. Formerly an examiner in the JPO’s polymer processing division, he is well-equipped to handle complicated pharmaceutical patent prosecution with distinction. Over in the material science department, Tatsuhiko Abe supervises the trickiest foreign mechanical cases without breaking a sweat.

Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office 

Having developed over the past two decades into a 210-strong, full-service IP boutique with offices in Tokyo and Osaka, Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office makes its debut in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. Guided by the deft leadership of chemistry expert Masayuki Shobayashi, who is also a vice president of the Japanese Patent Attorneys Association, the outfit is known for its spectacular ability to draft and file patents, at home and abroad, across all industry sectors. Boasting 14 former patent examiners and a former administrative judge from the JPO among its ranks, the firm also offers superb litigation support and IP commercialisation counsel. As one market source remarks: “The team possesses a deep insight into the valuation of patents, and tremendous networks in that area to boot.” Director of licensing Hiro Takahori and former IBM in-house IP attorney Satoshi Watanabe also stand out due to their fine judgement and consistency. Together, they often act like an in-house IP department to the start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises they service, which frequently depend on the duo’s “deep understanding of technologies” across the board to inform their commercial strategies.

Shusaku Yamamoto Law Offices

Shusaku Yamamoto Law Offices has had an exciting year, its chief IP highlight being the prosecution of Japanese patents on behalf of two of the three winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Frances H Arnold and Sir Gregory P Winter. Having catered primarily to a foreign clientele for decades, the firm is an old hand at handling IP matters for US, European and Asian businesses. Whether acting on behalf of a blue-chip Fortune 500 company or a start-up in the early stages of its development, the outfit’s culturally diverse mix of 170 IP practitioners is adept at filing silky, technically astute patent applications that never fail to make the grade. Founder, name partner and biotech maven Shusaku Yamamoto still commands the practice. His name is a guarantee of quality recognised throughout the Japanese IP scene.

SOEI Patent & Law Firm

One of the top PCT filers in Japan, SOEI Patent & Law Firm makes its sophomore appearance in the IAM Patent 1000. Last year was one of steady growth for the partnership, which recently opened a new office in Bangkok to complement its existing bases in Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka and Washington DC, thereby further expanding its global reach. The firm’s IP team – which includes former members of the judiciary, including Tomokatsu Tsukahara, who previously presided over the IP High Court – is used to working closely with other patent firms in Southeast Asia. Those who have worked with former 3M researcher Yoshinori Shimizu tend to report an extremely “positive experience”; while former associates of Naruto Ikeda, an “experienced patent attorney with excellent skills and deep knowledge of physics”, also have only good things to say.

Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office

The brainchild of German IP pioneer Karl Vogt, Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office now has almost 110 years’ experience of providing sterling IP work in Japan. The firm continues to expand its capabilities, having welcomed three new patent attorneys in 2019 – and maintains its reputation for high-level, outward-facing service. Sonderhoff & Einsel is one of the most multicultural Japanese practices, with professionals hailing from Europe, Japan, China and the United States coming together to provide a truly international perspective on global companies’ patent rights. Ever-ready to provide sublime patent counsel to his stable of illustrious clients, the partnership’s trilingual managing director Felix-Reinhard Einsel is known to possess “profound knowledge of the Japanese and German IP fields”. He is believed to be the only European national currently registered as a Japanese patent attorney.

Sonoda & Kobayashi Intellectual Property Law 

Tokyo-based boutique Sonoda & Kobayashi Intellectual Property Law has made a name for itself as a prolific patent filer for its predominantly foreign clientele, with the bulk of its contacts book composed of global corporations based outside Japan. The outfit has positioned itself as a highly international destination since 1998, with employees from 13 countries giving it the ability to work across eight distinct European and Asian languages. Its practitioners are able to bridge all communication barriers, translating applications superbly in-house and adding valuable cross-cultural insight to every file they touch. Moreover, with patent attorneys qualified in Japan, China and the United States calling the outfit home, as well as 16 highly specialised PhD holders, the firm offers top-quality prosecution and enforcement services with consistently outstanding grant rates. Fluent in English and French, managing partner Yoshitaka Sonoda formerly conducted research at the Saclay Nuclear Research Centre of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives in France, before a spell working in-house at Hitachi. A structural engineer by training, he is kept busy handling appeals, invalidations and infringement proceedings with the consummate skill and professionalism that are the hallmarks of his practice. Toshiyasu Ishioka is a noted expert in pharmaceutical prosecution, while Akira Fujii takes charge for patents related to telecommunications and semiconductors.

STW & Partners

Following their departure from Big Four outfit Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in 2007, eight top patent lawyers founded the up-and-coming STW & Partners, combining their extensive legal experience to create a team able to tackle all manner of IP disputes with extreme sophistication. Leading lights Wataru Sueyoshi and Hajime Watanabe are two “very strong litigators in the high-tech sphere”; both are also prolific and widely read writers on cutting-edge IP matters. Japanese-admitted Sueyoshi has been president of the IP Lawyers Network Japan since 2018, whereas Watanabe is described as a “very practical and pragmatic” lawyer with qualifications in Chicago and New York.

SUGIMURA & Partners 

Highly recommended for its prosecution services, 95-year-old outfit SUGIMURA & Partners is known as “one of the most iconic patent law firms in Japan”, shining particularly brightly for its uncommon proficiency in matters of foreign patent prosecution. With an affiliate office in Silicon Valley and a rapidly growing legal practice, the side has an increasing global presence and offers a cradle-to-grave patent service that has cemented its reputation as a top patent firm. “A renowned name in Japanese IP circles”, managing partner Kenji Sugimura is “an experienced patent attorney and litigator who specialises in mechanics and architectural engineering matters”. New to the guide this year, director of IP operations Haruo Awano brings a wealth of international business strategy experience to the table by dint of his time in-house at Sony – his name belongs in any serious rights holder’s contact book.

TMI Associates 

Growth is the order of the day at full-service law firm TMI Associates, which has recently added Osaka and London to its long list of office locations. An established IP hotbed, the firm hosts 80 patent attorneys and 60 IP lawyers “with a deep understanding of clients’ needs”, who join forces to advise global corporations on all types of patent work – from cross-border lawsuits and complex deals to patent prosecution. On the non-contentious side, Yoshiyuki Inaba is described as “an excellent patent attorney who handles numerous litigation cases and negotiates high-value deals for his clients”. After more than 25 years covering the US and Japanese IP landscapes, he has acquired vast experience in patent enforcement and prosecution proceedings. Electrical, IT and mechanical maven Toyotaka Abe leverages his former experience as a US patent agent and Microsoft’s in-house counsel to support major conglomerates including ASML, Lenovo and Nomura Securities in their patent prosecution and strategy formulation. New-York qualified Hiroshi Nemoto, new to the IAM Patent 1000 this year, is a “top attorney” who is currently occupied with defending medical software creator UpToDate in a patent infringement case at the IP High Court.

YUASA and HARA 

“One of the leading IP firms in Japan”, YUASA and HARA delivers “high-quality legal services in a timely manner”, garnering fantastic client feedback as a result. One comments: “I have been working with them for a long time and have enormous faith in them; they draw upon their extensive experience to offer advice that encompasses every aspect of IP management.” Known especially for its presence in the pharmaceutical sphere, the firm can frequently be found “presenting important patent infringement cases” before the IP High Court – where litigation star Toshiaki Iimura was once a chief judge. A revered and influential IP practitioner with a sparkling 20-year judicial career, there is hardly an IP-related matter Iimura cannot tackle. Kozo Yabe, in turn, combines extensive corporate law experience with a refined grasp of the technical matter, making him a firm favourite among major international corporations. Tsuyoshi Sueyoshi “has the perfect technical background and experience to understand detailed scientific discussions with ease – he provides concise, persuasive, balanced and valuable legal and business advice”. He has been especially active of late on behalf of pharmaceutical giants including AstraZeneca, whom he currently represents in an important appeal against Nippon Chemiphar. This is only the 12th case to make it to the Grand Panel since the IP High Court was established in 2005, so it is a matter of paramount importance.

Other recommended experts

Formerly the supervising examiner and appeal examiner-in-chief at the JPO, Yusuke Hiraki of Hiraki & Associates is well-known for his responsiveness and deep grasp of the biotech and chemical sectors. No guide to Japan’s patent experts would be complete without KUBOTA’s founder and managing partner Eiichiro Kubota, who is highly praised in the market for his character and communication skills. Masashi Moriwaki of MORIWAKI IP operates out of bases in Tokyo and Kyoto, and is “an expert in IP litigation” who also excels in patent drafting and prosecution, “especially when semiconductor processes and elements are concerned”. Following his retirement from the bench at the Tokyo Supreme Court IP Division, Yukio Nagasawa now shares his hard-earned wisdom with patent applicants of all hues at Nagasawa Patent Firm. Kan Otani has become a go-to patent guru for Tokyo-based start-ups and venture capital-backed companies; he advises them superbly from his newly established outfit, Roppongidori Patent & Trademark Attorney. Over at Uchida & Samejima Law Firm, renowned litigator Masahiro Samejima makes a deserved first appearance in the guide this year. His engineering nous is the focus of much admiration in Japan. Electrical engineer Yuichiro Takahashi, head of Takahashi Hayashi and Partners’ legal practice, is a ubiquitous presence in Japan’s IP scene. He handles an impressive number of cases on behalf of some of the world’s greatest innovators.

Individuals: litigation

  • Junichi Kitahara - Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Seiji Ohno - OHNO & PARTNERS
  • Yasufumi Shiroyama - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Wataru Sueyoshi - STW & Partners
  • Kazuhiko Yoshida - Nakamura & Partners
  • Mami Hino - Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Yoshiyuki Inaba - TMI Associates
  • Hitomi Iwase - Nishimura & Asahi
  • Yoshikazu Iwase - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Eiichiro Kubota - KUBOTA
  • Tsuyoshi Sueyoshi - YUASA and HARA
  • Koichi Tsujii - Nakamura & Partners
  • Hajime Watanabe - STW & Partners 
  • Kozo Yabe - YUASA and HARA
  • Masayuki Yamanouchi - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Miki Goto - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Harumi Kojo - Sakurazaka Law Offices
  • Hiroshi Nemoto - TMI Associates
  • Masahiro Samejima - Uchida & Samejima Law Firm
  • Yuichiro Takahashi - Takahashi Hayashi and Partners
  • Masato Tanaka - Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Individuals: prosecution

  • Tatsuhiko Abe - Shiga International Patent Office
  • Toyotaka Abe - TMI Associates
  • Haruo Awano - SUGIMURA & Partners
  • Hironobu Hattori - Nakamura & Partners
  • Yusuke Hiraki - Hiraki & Associates
  • Masato Iida - Shiga International Patent Office
  • Yoshiyuki Inaba - TMI Associates
  • Yoichi Inoue - Asamura Patent Office PC
  • Shinya Jitsuhiro - Shiga International Patent Office
  • Ken-ichi Katayama - OHNO & PARTNERS
  • Hiroshi Kobayashi - Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Yoshiteru Mizumoto - Asamura Patent Office PC
  • Masashi Moriwaki - MORIWAKI IP
  • Yasuhiko Murayama - Shiga International Patent Office
  • Yukio Nagasawa - Nagasawa Patent Firm
  • Takeo Nasu - Nakamura & Partners
  • Yasunori Ohtsuka - Ohtsuka Patent Office
  • Makoto Ono - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Kan Otani - Roppongidori Patent & Trademark Attorney 
  • Masayuki Shobayashi - Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office 
  • Yoshitaka Sonoda - Sonoda & Kobayashi Intellectual Property Law 
  • Hiroyuki Suda - Nakamura & Partners
  • Kenji Sugimura - SUGIMURA & Partners 
  • Hiro Takahori - Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office
  • Hiroshi Tamura - Aoyama & Partners
  • Satoshi Watanabe - Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office
  • Yoichi Watanabe - Seiwa Patent & Law
  • Shusaku Yamamoto - Shusaku Yamamoto Law Offices
  • Norihito Yamao - Aoyama & Partners

Individuals: transactions

  • Hitomi Iwase - Nishimura & Asahi
  • Yoshikazu Iwase - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
  • Eiichiro Kubota - KUBOTA
  • Yoshiyuki Miyashita - Nishimura & Asahi
  • Kazuhiko Yoshida - Nakamura & Partners

Luminaries

  • Toshiaki Iimura - YUASA and HARA
  • Eiji Katayama - Abe, Ikubo & Katayama
  • Yoshio Kumakura - Nakamura & Partners
  • Ryoichi Mimura - Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu