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.

In a notable IP dispute, the firm represented LINE Pay in defending a patent infringement claim filed by MRS Holdings Co at the Tokyo District Court. This patent is related to electronic payment systems used in the application ‘LINE’, which has eight million users in Japan. In another highlight, the firm filed a lawsuit for a pharmaceutical company against a JPO decision for invalidation trial of a trademark. The IP High Court rendered a decision to invalidate one of the trademark registrations of the opposing party. This decision is believed to be helpful in handling the pending disputes.

The rest of the clients the firm worked with during the research period remain confidential.

Shimako Kato

“She provides us with good comments and excellent suggestions.”

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

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.

Work highlights include providing counsel to a confidential corporate in SIAC arbitration proceedings for claims of breaches of warranty under a sale and purchase agreement and breaches of duties under an shareholders’ agreement arising out of an acquisition of an overseas company; and representing a confidential Japanese client in SIAC arbitration proceedings in dispute on issues arising from the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Southeast Asia.

K&L Gates

K&L’s practice in Japan provides a comprehensive and diverse array of litigation services that ranges from commercial litigation and employment arbitration to civil and criminal litigation. The team has a track record of representing foreign and domestic Japanese corporations and conglomerates in complex commercial and employment disputes. Its litigators routinely handle high-stakes disputes for clients that operate across the telecommunications, aviation, life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, and transportation industries.

The disputes team in Japan is led by partner Takahiro Hoshino, a former judge, who has experienced insights into judicial thought processes that impact judgements.

Details of the cases the firm submitted are highly confidential.

Client feedback

“The reason why we think K&L Gates is providing better services than other law firm is because it provides not only legal advice but also concrete actions and deep support to our issues.” – Labour and employment

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 in 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.

Mayer Brown

Global white-shoe law firm Mayer Brown opened its office in Tokyo in 2018 at the request of its Japanese clients. Its Japan practice regularly acts as international counsel on Japan-related transactions, sometimes working in collaboration with Japanese law firms. Among its Japan-based clients are financial institutions, insurance companies, shipping and freight transportation companies, steel manufacturers and utility companies, as well as multinational conglomerates involved in trading, energy, mining, information technology, transportation and other infrastructure, life sciences and real estate. Rupert Burrows is the managing partner of the firm's Tokyo office.

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 represented Japan Post in defence of claims brought under the Labour Contract Act by a high number of fixed-term employees over differences between the terms and conditions of their employment contracts and those of employees employed permanently. This case is being widely covered by the media because of the similarity of the plaintiffs’ arguments to the new policy of ‘equal pay for equal work’ that the Japanese government has introduced.

In other work samples, 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 the client in past years.

In the white-collar crime space, the firm is representing Japan Display (JDI) in an investigation following the confession of an ex-employee claiming his involvement in accounting fraud for more than five years. The firm’s partner, Yasuhiko Fujitsu, was appointed as the chair of the special investigation committee in support of the investigation. The team acted for JDI to facilitate the investigation and address regulatory issues including the administrative inspection by the SESC and the disciplinary action by JPX-R. This case is one of the biggest accounting scandals in Japan in the past decade. The amount of the administrative monetary penalty imposed on JDI is the third largest in Japanese history.

Client feedback

“The firm assisted in our decision-making, and provided risk analysis together with the identification of risks.” – Commercial and transactions

“The quality of the lawyers’ work is very good and communication skills are also good.” – Intellectual property

“The firm’s lawyers are always capable of giving us useful and informative advice, as well as developing and implementing appropriate and effective litigation strategies.” – Product liability and recall

Mugi Sekido

“With high level language skills, a deep understanding of and extensive experience in handling international conflict for many Japanese clients, he conveys our messages to US attorneys quite accurately and digests their complicated legal languages into simplified terms for our easy understanding.”

Hideaki Umetsu

“Excellent understanding of risks clients face, and a wide and deep understanding of how to team up with a  variety of experts in order to deal with clients' problems or issues. He has an attitude where he wants to understand clients.”

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 IP highlight, the team 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. Partner Max Olson led the trial team in what was the largest plaintiff’s case that he has filed during his long and storied career. The covered infringing sales in the US alone were about $100 billion.

Other case samples include the team representing Fujitsu Semiconductor in a multi-million dollar global dispute involving photomasks against Cypress Semiconductor Corp; representing Socionext in a US patent litigation filed by Computer Circuit Operations; and representing Cadence Design Systems in a US patent litigation filed by Computer Circuit Operations.

During the research period, the firm’s Tokyo office hired Takahiro Nonaka as partner from DLA Piper. Tomohiko Kimura was promoted to partner in early 2021.

Key clients of the firm include Buffalo, Denso Ten and Fujitsu America.

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.

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 ventures as well as investment treaty arbitrations.

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

Client feedback

“Upon co-working with a leading law firm, the firm provided good suggestions in a timely manner.” – International arbitration

Hisaya Kimura

“Communicates clearly, very knowledgeable and highly professional.”

Yoshima Ohara

“Yoshimi Ohara is outstanding. She has impressive analytical skills, impressive knowledge about international arbitration, and an international mindset that allows her to easily work across jurisdictions.”

“Deep knowledge and experience in the field of arbitration. Well-balanced sense.”

Hironobu Tsukamoto

“Very clear advice, very knowledgeable and responsive.”

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 frontrunner for 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 acted for Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Co and won a significant corporate tax dispute that challenged a tax assessment before the Tokyo District Court. This case involved an issue arising from an in-kind contribution of a partnership interest for the development of a drug to fight AIDS. This case was important due to the large amount of taxable income in dispute. It also involved numerous complicated tax issues including a corporate reorganisation, in-kind contributions of partnership interests, and the scope of the Japanese government’s right to tax cross-border transactions.

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, antitrust, and intellectual property disputes 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 battles.

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 focus on international commercial arbitration and contentious IP cases.

In one notable matter, the firm acted in a case that highlighted the cooperative relationships between the Japanese government and its largest corporations that can sometimes contradict commitments found in Japan’s Corporate Governance Code.

Other case samples saw the firm representing CFJ GK, the consumer finance subsidiary of Citigroup, in an unprecedented tax litigation before the district court of Tokyo concerning secondary tax liability,; and successfully representing Shinsei Financial in 141 cases litigated at the district courts and high courts against General Electric.

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.