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AIPLA President’s blog: Women and IP in Japan

Jeffrey I. D. Lewis

I have just left Japan, after spending a week with AIPLA’s IP in Japan Committee. That committee was one of the originators – if not the first – to travel for meetings with foreign counterparts and government officials.

AIPLAOver the last week we met with officials from the US Embassy in Japan including a private meeting with Ambassador John Roos, the Japan Patent Office with a private session with Commissioner Fukano, Japan High IP Court where a few of us had a session with Chief Judge Iimura, and numerous bar associations. Each of these meetings could take up a blog entry, but the meeting I want to focus on is the Women in IP session.

For many years AIPLA has supported women in IP programs, including hosting “Women in IP breakfasts” at the three major AIPLA meetings, and the Women in IP Law Committee holds networking dinners around the US each year. But those are in the United States only, and as a result of those successes the IP in Japan Committee perceived a need to support women practicing IP law in Japan. Last year, for the first time, a Women in IP Reception was held in Japan. I was invited to attend this year’s second such event as AIPLA President. While a lot of men attend the breakfasts at the AIPLA meetings, no men attend the Japan event unless invited, and I was honored they invited me.

The event was held in a meeting room at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo and was well attended. While a few of us made introductory remarks, the principal presentations were by two speakers – women – who told their personal stories of developing an IP practice. Unfortunately, each spoke of immense hurdles and a great deal of personal sacrifice in very moving and emotional ways.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation (AIPLEF), AIPLA is extremely supportive of diversity and women’s initiatives. Attending this session in Japan, however, highlighted for me just how much work there is to do – not only in other countries but in the United States. Events such as the Women in IP breakfasts at AIPLA meetings, the Women in IP Law Committee dinners, and the Women in IP Japan session place a personal face on the many issues and barriers that people must address in their careers. I am proud of the work of AIPLA and AIPLEF, and their support toward removing these hurdles. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for reading.



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