Japan

Review

Dispute resolution
Abe Ikubo & Katayama

Top tier IP specialist firm Abe Ikubo & Katayama is especially known for its life sciences and pharmaceutical expertise. The firm also has considerable experience in the electronic and telecommunications fields. Its litigation team is active in representing both local and foreign companies in all kinds of IP infringement disputes.

Managing partner Eiji Katayama is one of the most respected patent litigators in Japan. Hiroshi Kobayashi, Mami Hino and Junichi Kitahara are other key practitioners to note at the firm with outstanding capability in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, technology and telecommunications and machinery.

Work highlights include representing Radiometer in a patent infringement suit filed by Brahms Diagnostica seeking an injunction and damages based on a patent directed to a method for detecting scepticemia by measuring procalcitonin 3-116; acting for Eli Lilly on invalidation trial and litigation rescinding the trial decision against a generic company Nipro; and representing Apple on a patent infringement suit against Juice Design seeking damages based on a patent directed to an information processing device.

Apple, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer are the firm’s key clients.

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Full service law firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune offers a range of dispute resolution services covering both domestic and international disputes. The firm is particularly active in commercial disputes including arbitration, contractual and data privacy disputes.  

The dispute resolution team is co-led by Hiroki Wakabayash and Yoshimasa Furuta. Wakabayash is particularly active representing financial institutions and major corporations on commercial and labour disputes. Furuta has extensive experience in cross-border disputes including international arbitration. Yoshikazu Iwase and Yasufumi Shiroyama are key IP litigators at the firm.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Formidable dispute resolution powerhouse Herbert Smith Freehills specialises in acting for Japanese blue-chips, pharmaceutical giants, and technology and energy companies before various institutions including ICC and JCAA. With a vast practice, it acts on most complex and high-profile commercial and regulatory matters across the region. The firm is also frequently involved in anti-corruption and fraud investigations.

David Gilmore is the managing partner at its Tokyo office as well as head of the dispute resolution team. Gilmore has over 20 years of experience in international commercial disputes and is also active in regulatory investigations. Other key figures for international arbitration include Elaine Wong and Emma Kratochvilova.

King & Spalding

Best known for global outbound disputes, King & Spalding offers genuine expertise in both English and commonwealth law and US law disputes for its Japanese clients. The firm is especially renowned for its strength in international arbitrations and cross-border disputes across the energy, construction and automotive sectors. Clients often appreciate its sharp strategy and strong grasp of market conditions.

Christopher Bailey is one of the leading litigators in the market who leads the firm’s global disputes practice in Tokyo. He is valued for his expertise in regulatory, construction and energy matters.

All cases provided during the research period remain confidential but highlight the firm's strengths in international arbitration and regulatory compliance.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

One among Japan’s ‘Big Four’ law firms, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s dispute resolution team boasts 45 partners and over 50 other qualified attorneys. The team is experienced in handling the full range of domestic and cross-border disputes, notably active in corporate, employment and real estate disputes. The firm has a strong presence in East Asia with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Yangon and Jakarta.

Mugi Sekido and Kana Manabe are key figures in the team. Sekido is highly respected for his commercial litigation expertise. Yutaka Miyoshi is a notable IP litigator.

In one work highlight, the firm is representing Coincheck, cryptocurrency wallet and exchange services provider, in relation to a massive hacking incident in 2018 which is also known as the world’s biggest ever digital currency theft. The firm is advising Coincheck in all related matters including a lawsuit filed by a group of investors seeking compensation for loss.

In other work highlights, the firm acted for Daio Paper Corporation against one of its biggest shareholders in a lawsuit alleging that convertible bonds issued by the company violated Japanese laws and regulations; and defended Toshiba in claims brought by former and current shareholders in a tort alleging ‘improper’ disclosure of financial information by Toshiba in past years.

In intellectual property, the firm regularly advises Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and her foundation against counterfeit and piracy exhibitions and works in Japan and across the region.

The firm’s major clients include BicCamera, Eksportfinans ASA and SoftBank.

Client feedback

“The team is excellent in clearly understanding technical inputs from our engineers, and also in understanding expectations of our company regarding the litigation and legal services there. We also highly appreciate the team's capability to see the entire picture of the matter which includes the German court, a court-appointed expert, our local counsel and the opposing counsel, and to coordinate necessary works with our local counsel and other concerns. These are the core elements of the team's leadership in this matter, which gives us an assurance in the difficult circumstances.” – Commercial and transactions

Mugi Sekido

“We also appreciate his transparent style in handling matters, which contributes to the improvement of our company's capabilities for dispute resolution matters. In addition, we feel that Mr Sekido is thoughtful of us, and is on our side, particularly in difficult situations. This attitude of him is also highly appreciated.”

Morrison & Foerster

Morrison & Foerster has the largest dispute resolution team in Japan among international firms with over 30 dedicated litigators on the ground. The firm is particularly strong in IP and commercial disputes including international arbitration, construction and consumer class action disputes. It also has internal investigation expertise covering product mislabelling, construction defects and white-collar crime.

One of the firm’s key individuals is Louise Stoupe who has particular strength in international arbitration and litigation. She is known to represent some of the biggest technology companies in the world in their complex commercial disputes. Robert Hollingshead and Max Olson are well-known IP practitioners. Other names to note include Chie Yakura and Yukihiro Terazawa.

In one highlight, the firm filed a patent infringement action for JOLED against Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display concerning fundamental OLED display technology and the accused products include Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

Key clients of the firm include Buffalo, Fujitsu, Nikon Corporation, Sanyo Electric and Sharp.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is widely renowned for its expertise in handling complex cross-jurisdictional disputes. The highly skilled litigation team has a wealth of experience in handling antitrust, general commercial, employment, IP, product liability and consumer affairs disputes. The firm is singled out for its expertise in international arbitration.

Norimitsu Arai and Hisaya Kimura are key commercial disputes lawyers in the team, while Masato Tanaka and Yoshimi Ohara are recommended for their work in IP and international arbitration respectively.

In one case highlight during the research period, the firm advised Central Japan Railway in an administrative lawsuit against the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), seeking the revocation of the approval disposition.

The firm also had a busy year acting for clients in various international arbitration cases seated across the world. Recent cases involved disputes arising out of construction, joint venture as well as investment treaty arbitration.

The firm has solid experience managing multijurisdictional disputes with overseas offices in New York, Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi offers unparalleled strength in diverse dispute resolution areas including financial disputes, general commercial and product liability. The firm often receives instructions from domestic and foreign corporations in the automotive, pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial institutions and electronics sectors. In particular, the firm is a front-runner in international arbitration with a practice led by Hiroyuki Tezuka and Akihiro Hironaka. Yutaro Kawabata and Lars Markert are also noteworthy international arbitration practitioners.

During the research period, the firm advised on a high-profile product liability case involving more than 100 claimants before four district courts in Japan. It also acted for a major Japanese pharmaceutical company, Shionogi & Co, and won a significant corporate tax dispute that challenged a tax assessment. Further, the firm advised a Japanese corporation in a joint venture dispute against a Japanese manufacturer involving power plant construction projects before the JCAA in Tokyo.

The firm is branching out into Singaporean and Indonesian arbitration with a strong construction angle driven by its Singapore office partner Shintaro Uno.  

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners is the largest law firm in Osaka and offers a broad range of dispute resolution services covering corporation litigation, consumer protection and product liability disputes, competition/antitrust, intellectual property and international arbitration. 

Commercial disputes lawyer Shiro Kuniya, competition and antitrust specialist Tetsuya Nagasawa and IP litigator Takamitsu Shigetomi are key figures of the team.

O'Melveny & Myers

O’Melveny & Myers is active in both domestic and international litigation and arbitration as well as criminal investigations. With 15 years practice experience in the country, the firm has a solid track record before the Supreme Court of Japan including mass consumer litigation, banking and commercial disputes as well as IP related disputes.

Yoji Maeda is a key partner at the firm with broad experience across commercial litigation and employment matters. Counsel Hiroko Nihei is another lawyer to note who has a particular focus on international commercial arbitration and contentious IP cases.

Work highlights include acting for CFJ GK, the consumer finance subsidiary of Citigroup, in an unprecedented tax litigation before the district court of Tokyo concerning secondary tax liability, after the initial round before the Nagoya National Tax Tribunal; and successfully representing Shinsei Financial against General Electric in 141 cases and completely winning all of them.

TMI Associates

Since its founding in 1990, TMI Associates has built a reputation in dispute resolution particularly in matters related to IP. Clients seek the firm for its service in infringement lawsuits, invalidation trials, the appeals processes, import suspensions and temporary injunctive relief. Sector expertise includes machinery, semiconductors, biotechnology, medicine, communication and technology.   

Among its 50 IP attorneys, Mitsuko Miyagawa stands out for her work in trade mark and copyright litigation. Additionally, Mitsue Aizawa is a key individual for commercial disputes.  

Yuasa and Hara

One of the oldest law firms in Japan, Yuasa & Hara specialises in patent and trade mark litigation. Nearly 50 patent attorneys assist clients in the chemical, mechanical and electronics sectors. Kozo Yabe is singled out as a key contact. 

The firm’s cross border disputes work is facilitated by its membership in Terralex, an international law firm network with 140 members across 100 countries. The firm is also a member of Unilaw, an international law firm network with an active presence in Europe.