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Japan: IP – Patent Attorneys (Benrishi) 2016

Patent attorneys, known as benrishi, are typically persons who have passed the patent bar exam and are registered at the JPO, and who are often mandated to represent clients in prosecution matters before the JPO. Most have technical backgrounds in, among others subjects, chemistry, biotechnology, electronics and mechanical engineering; or have a non-technical specialisation in trademarks and design rights. The following 25 patent attorneys are among the most highly regarded in the market. 

KYOWA Patent and Law Office is known as one of Japan’s top IP law firms, a pedigree that stretches back over a 100 years. Managing partner Hiroshi Nagai is extensively experienced with over three decades of practice. He is highly sort after for his experience in mechanical engineering. Manabu Miyajima is a member of the firm’s litigation department as a qualified patent attorney and as an attorney-at-law in Japan and California. Takeshi Sekine is recommended for his knowledge of electrical products, including computers and semiconductors.

Suzuye & Suzuye boasts a comprehensive patents and trademark practices, with a number of well-noted figures in their fields it is certainly one of Japan’s preeminent IP firms. President Masatoshi Kurata specialises in electrical and telecommunications. “His knowledge and organisation is top notch”, say sources. Toshihiro Fukuhara is extensively experienced with prior positions in the JPO over the course of nearly 30 years. He is also “a top name” for the electrical and telecommunications fields. Meanwhile, Naoki Kohno is considered a go-to patent attorney for chemical and biotech matters.

Soei Patent & Law Firm is highly regarded by clients with “an excellent team of specialists dedicated to the protection of IP rights”. Top names at the firm include Tomoya Kurokawa, who is well versed in trademark prosecution, and Yoshinori Shimizu, a leading name in the fields of chemistry. Yoshiki Kuroki is “a definite inclusion” for prosecution and appeals of mechanical and electrical products.

Kubota is led by the famed Eiichiro Kubota; he is considered “a benchmark for how good an IP specialist can be”. Chiaki Kato is well-regarded for her expertise in trademark rights, including prosecution and pre-litigation counselling.

Nishimura & Asahi lays claim to seven patent attorneys supporting its prestigious IP department, including nominees Masashi Kurose and Makoto Shiotani. The former is a highly respected and longstanding figure in the region for patents in the field of mechanical engineering, as well as trademark protection matters in Asia and Russia; the latter has extensive experience of trademark prosecution.

TMI Associates’ famed patent and trademark expert Yoshiyuki Inaba is very well known internationally as “one of the most highly regarded names at the Japanese patent bar”.   

At TOKYO ACTi, Masahiro Nanjo is “extremely knowledgeable” in relation to chemical, pharmaceutical and biological patent protection, with respondents adding that he is “responsive and practical”.

Hisao Fukami, chairman of Fukami Patent Office, is one of the most widely recognised and respected patent attorneys in the market, with a practice stemming back over 50 years in electrical and communications patent law.

Konishi & Nakamura’s founder Tomohiro Nakamura is considered "a premier attorney” in the field of trademarks, including filing, prosecution and oppositions before the JPO.

Matsubara, Muraki & Associates is dedicated to the filing and maintenance of trademarks in Japan. Often engaged in cross-border matters, the firm’s representative partner Nobuyuki Matsubara is one of the standout names both domestically and internationally as “the doyen” of the non-technical side of the patent bar.

Tani & Abe’s co-founder Yoshikazu Tani is described as “eminent and longstanding” by respondents in the market who praise his prosecution work in the fields of electronics and software.

At Minamiaoyama Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Junichi Omori is a respected name in the support of mechanical engineering patent rights

Kazuko Matsuo of Nakamura & Partners is a qualified bengoshi and benrishi. She is a veteran of trademark law and famous on a global stage for her “peerless practice”.

Kimiko Yano recently joined Ohno & Partners and has a practice that stretches back 30 years. He is highly recommended for his expertise in the filing and prosecution of trademarks.

Seiwa Patent & Law’s Atsushi Aoki is highly regarded as a trademark attorney. One sources notes that “he is very responsive and attentive to his clients.”

Yasuhiko Murayama of Shiga International Patent Office is a noted expert in the prosecution and opposition of electronic and software inventions.

Sonderhoff & Einsel’s Shuya Saito is a widely respected name in both inbound and outbound trademark work, including the full range of matters from application to the maintenance of rights. “He is absolutely brilliant,” notes one international trademark lawyer.

Hiromichi Aoki of Yuasa and Hara is nominated for his trademark practice; he is “diligent and a good operator”, according to one respondent.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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