Unlike traditional judges, Iimura is not afraid to
speak his mind
A returning member of the Top 50, Toshiaki
Iimura was elevated to the role of Chief Judge of the IP High Court
of Japan in April. Already considered the most influential
IP judge in the country, his new position confirms his status
as a key voice in reforming Japan's IP system.
handed down a number of influential decisions, such as
holdings limiting obviousness attacks on patents"
Although Japan has long had a reputation for not protecting
IP owners, Iimura has handed down a number of influential
decisions in contrast to this, such as holdings limiting
obviousness attacks on patents. He has also handed down
landmark decisions in other areas of IP, such as upholding Coca
Cola's trade mark registration for the shape of its bottle.
"I thought Judge Iimura was genuinely concerned about how IP
cases will influence industry," Naoki Yoshida of Finnegan told
Managing IP in an interview. "He was concerned with the message
they send to patent holders." Iimura is also seen as an
ambassador for intellectual property in Japan, often speaking
at events and educating others about the Japanese system.
"There is a Japanese proverb, 'judges don't make excuses',"
says Takanori Abe of Abe Law in Osaka, meaning that judges are
often hesitant to talk about their decisions and reasoning
outside of court. Judge Iimura is an exception. He openly
speaks about legal decisions as well as issues facing the
entire IP system. As the new chief judge, he is likely to play
a big role in shaping IP rights Japan and influencing the
thinking of others.
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