Japan's IP Experts 2020

29 February 2020

Japan's IP Experts 2020
Despite being the world’s the third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (and fifth-largest overall), Japan continues to struggle from lacklustre economic growth, growing at only 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2019 amid ongoing global trade disputes and fragile economic expansion.
Facing what looks to be another anemic year for economic growth, the legal services market in Japan is seeing more competition than ever. Clients are seeking better value for their money and are watching the performance of their legal service providers more closely than ever.

In order to understand better what clients need today, Asia IP asked a large number of professionals – mostly in-house counsel and corporate legal managers – what they were looking for from their legal service providers. From their answers, we have compiled our list of 48 Japan IP Experts, those lawyers who understand just what their clients need and are able to provide them with the best practical advice.

Today’s clients are looking for more than just a degree from a top-notch university and a couple of decades of practice. In order to be an outstanding provider of intellectual property advice, a lawyer must also be capable of understanding how intellectual property impacts the rest of his client’s business, and be able to provide practical, real-world, business-savvy advice. She must be able to provide sound advice on the current law, but also needs to be able to understand coming trends which are likely to impact her client’s business.

Unlike days past when she might have played just a bit role, today’s IP Expert is every bit a full-fledged team member.

As our list of Japan’s IP Experts began to emerge, it was no surprise to us when we started to see some of the country’s top law firms represented over and over again. Nakamura & Partners is represented five separate times on our list, by Yoshio Kumakura, Koichi Tsujii, Kazuhiko Yoshida, Kazuko Matsuo and Shinichiro Tanaka. Abe, Ikubo & Katayama, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune and Yuasa and Hara each appear three different times, and five different firms – TMI Associates, Sugimura & Partners, Nishimura & Asahi, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto and Matsubara, Muraki & Associates each appear twice.

Foreign law firms got in on the action, as well. Hogan Lovells lawyers make four appearances on the list, while Jones Day, Morrison & Foerster and Paul Hastings each have two lawyers on the list.

While most of Japan’s IP Experts are based in Tokyo, a few of them have significant practices outside Tokyo, including Takenori Hiroe, chairman of Hiroe & Associates in Gifu in western Japan, some 40 km outside of Nagoya. Hiroe’s firm is consistently ranked by Asia IP and others as the top patent and trademark firm in the Tokai region.

Most of the lawyers named to our list have multiple practice specialties. Many of them are litigators, while others concentrate on prosecution work or provide strategic advice.

All of them have something in common: they are experts in their fields and, in one way or another, they provide extra value for their clients. They are Asia IP’s Japan IP Experts.




Japan’s IP Experts is based solely on independent editorial research conducted by Asia IP. As part of this project, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Japan, Asia and elsewhere and around the world, as well as Japan-focused partners at international law firms, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel.

The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the input of editorial team at Asia IP, which has more than 40 years of collective experience in researching and understanding Japan’s legal market.

All private practice intellectual property lawyers in Japan were eligible for inclusion in the nominations process; there were no fees or any other requirements for inclusion in the process.

The names of our 48 IP Experts are published here. Each IP Expert was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details on our website, for which a fee was charged.

Law firms

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