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Japan’s IP Experts 2024

29 February 2024

Japan’s IP Experts 2024

Publishers in Japan are concerned about whether the country’s copyright laws adequately protect against generative AI – and worse, according to a statement released by an industry group last August, they say that copyright protection is not being adequately considered in the development of generative artificial intelligence, a story in The Japan Times said.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association, the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, the Japan Photographic Copyright Association and the Japan Book Publishers Association released a joint statement in which they said current generative AI “creates content based on the analysis of large amounts of data collected from the internet without the consent of and payments to copyright holders,” the story said.

The statement, according to the newspaper, said that Japan’s copyright law is more favourable to AI learning than copyright laws in other countries, and pointed to the unclear nature of the interpretation of a provision of the law that prohibits the use of copyrighted material for learning purposes if it would “unreasonably prejudice the interests of the copyright owner.”

As a result, the four associations said, large amounts of content could be created without providing any benefit to copyright holders, which could make it difficult for them to continue their creative activities, the four associations said.

The associations said that interpretation of the law must be clarified, which could lead to its revision. They also called for creating a mechanism for copyright holders and government authorities to discuss the copyright law.

As technology continues to evolve, Japan will almost certainly be at the forefront, which suggests that there will be great demand for the professional services of intellectual property lawyers in Japan for local and overseas clients. In this issue, we pay tribute to the best of them by presenting this year’s Japan’s IP Experts list. We asked a large number of IP professionals in the region, who are mostly in-house counsel and corporate legal managers, about what they were looking for from their legal service providers, so as to understand better what clients need and want today. Based on these answers, we have compiled our list of the Top 50 IP experts in Japan, lawyers who can best understand what their clients need and provide them with the best practical advice.

Nowadays, it takes more than a degree from a top-notch university and a couple of decades of practice for IP lawyers to convince clients that they are the best in the field. When looking for IP advice, clients would opt for outstanding lawyers who can also understand how IP impacts the rest of their business, and advise them with practical, real-world, and business-savvy solutions. Not only do the lawyers need to have sound knowledge of the current law, but they also need to perceive coming trends that might affect clients’ business.

Our list is categorized with the specialized fields of the experts, including patents, trademarks, copyright, enforcement, licensing and franchising, media and entertainment, IT and telecoms, pharma and biotech, and IP litigation. A total of 50 top experts from 38 law firms are presented, including Japan’s largest IP firms and practices. Nakamura & Partners placed five lawyers on our list (Kei Iida, Yoshio Kumakura, Shinichiro Tanaka, Koichi Tsujii, and Kazuhiko Yoshida). Eight different firms placed two lawyers each on our list: Abe, Ikubo & Katayama (Eiji Katayama and Hiroshi Kobayashi); Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (Akihito Nakamachi and Masayuki Yamanouchi); Asamura Patent Office (Masahiro Asamura and Yoichi Inoue); Hiroe & Associates (Masanori Hiroe and Takenori Hiroe); Mori Hamada & Matsumoto (Atsushi Okada and Yoshifumi Onodera); Shiga International Patent Office (Shinya Jitsuhiro and Yasuhiko Murayama); TMI Associates (Yoshiyuki Inaba and Shunji Sato); and Yuasa and Hara (Hiromichi Aoki and Toshiaki Iimura). In addition to the large law firms, as the legal market of Japan keeps on maturing, there are also many competent boutique firms arising. Among our top 50 list, 29 firms are represented by one lawyer.

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. – GREGORY GLASS

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 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 45 years of collective experience in researching and understanding the legal market in Japan.

All private practice intellectual property lawyers working at law firms 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 50 IP Experts are published here. Each IP Expert was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details in print and on our website, for which a fee was charged.

Law firms