Location: Shinagawa, Tokyo, Jpan

Our History


The world was a very different place when Asamura Patent Office was founded in 1891. When Mr Saburo Asamura opened his office, telephones were only beginning to become widely commercially available. In the century that followed, the company has seen the technology transform the way people live their lives. 
Intellectual property has played a central role in fostering this innovation, helping great companies stand out from the competition and benefit from their creativity. Today, we are always looking to develop and get better. But everything we do is rooted in our rich history and experience of working with companies from all over the world.
Thanks to the trust of our customers, this year we celebrate our 130th anniversary.

The photo of the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi (left) and the first Senior Managing Partner of the Asamura Patent Office, Mr. Asamura Saburo (right) was taken in 1934 in the office of the Minister of Finance when Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi was chosen a Minister of Finance for the third time. The actual photo is displayed in the reception hall of Asamura Patent Office.

Year    Events at Asamura Patent OfficeHisotical Events
1883Paris Convention concluded and signed by 11 countries
1884The Trademark Ordinance is enacted.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi, the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office,(later Patent Bureau Director due to the revision of the administration system) the Patent Monopoly Act is enacted on April 18.
In 1954, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) decides to designate April 18 as Invention Day.
At the invitation of Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi, the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, Saburo Asamura joines the Development Division of the Patent Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce as an examiner.

Since the public had little interest in the inventions and there were almost no applications, not only the examiners but also Korekiyo Takahashi personally conducted outdoor advertisements and held exhibitions to increase public's interest in the inventions.

      Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi,
      President of the exclusive licensing office
Asamura and his two other colleagues establishes the Tokyo Patent Agency (Japan's first patent office) It closes down soon after due to few filing applications.
On the advice of Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi (the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office), Mr. Saburo Asamura (first Senior Managing Partner) leaves the Japan Patent Office and opens his own patent attorney office in Osaka.
Saburo Asamura,
First Senior Managing Partner
1894-1895The Sino-Japanese War
The victory of Japan in the Sino-Japanese War leads to the revision of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. The Patent Ordinance is developed.
1897The International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) is established.
Osaka Patent Agent is registered as a patent agent (Article 5)The Regulation for Registration of Patent Attorneys is enacted. The Patent Ordinance, the Design Ordinance, and the Trademark Ordinance are amended to the Patent Law, the Design Law, and the Trademark Law, respectively (1902). Japan becomes a signatory to the Paris Convention (Berne Convention).
1904-1905Russo-Japanese War (1904-5)
1905The Utility Model Law is enacted and enforced.
Asamura Patent Office starts foreign application procedures.
1914 ~ 1918The First World War
1921The Patent Law, the Utility Model Law, the Design Law, and the Trademark Law are completely revised and the Enforcement Order of the Patent Attorney Act is promulgated.

A copy of a patent application (Taisho era)
Branch offices open in Kobe, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Tokyo.

Office map (Taisho era)
Osaka Office (Taisho era)
Reception (Taisho era)
Saburo Asamura is appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce as a founding member and special committee member of the Patent Attorney Association and contributes to drafting the constitution of the Association.

Photo Office Guidance (1923)

Office Guidance (1923)
The inaugural meeting of the Patent Attorney Association is held and the Patent Attorney Association (now the Japan Patent Attorneys Association) is established.
Trademark Gazette (Taisho era)
The photo of the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi (left) and the first Senior Managing Partner of the Asamura Patent Office, Mr. Asamura Saburo (right) is taken in the office of the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi (left) and
Saburo Asamura
The Unfair Competition Prevention Law is enacted.
Narihisa Asamura succeeds to the presidency of the firm and becomes the second Senior Managing Partner of Asamura Patent Office, also succeeding in the spinoff of the Tokyo office located on the 7th floor of the Marunouchi Building. His elder brother, Ryoji Asamura, succeeds to the presidency of the Osaka office.

Narihisa Asamura, 2nd Senior Managing Partner
Prewar Office Guidance
Travel club
1939 ~1945World War II
The firm's 50th Anniversary is celebrated.Outbreak of Pacific War
The male staff are called up and the female staff are evacuated, leaving only Mr. Narihisa Asamura as Senior Managing Partner.The Academy of Technology is abolished, and the Patent Standard Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (now the Patent Office) is established.
The Osaka office is destroyed in air raid; Mr. Ryoji Asamura dies of illness. The Tokyo Office takes over the business in Osaka.
The Marunouchi Building just after the war
The Constitution of Japan is enacted.
1948The standard-related operations of the Patent Standard Bureau are transferred to the newly established Industrial Technology Agency as an external bureau of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Patent Office is established. The following year (1949), it becomes the Japan Patent Office.
Asamura Patent Office resumes handling foreign cases and files the first post-war overseas application to the U.S.The Order on Postwar Measures for Allies' Industrial Property is enacted allowing nationals of the U.S., U.K. and other Allied countries to file applications for patents, etc., claiming priority retroactive to the date of the outbreak of the Pacific War, file applications for restoration of patents and other rights that have expired due to inability to pay, as well as file applications for renewal of the duration of trademark rights that have expired due to expiration.
The firm's name is formally changes to Asamura Patent Office due to handling more foreign cases. The firm moves to the 8th floor of Marunouchi Building in Tokyo, Japan.
Marunochi Building
(Photo source: MITSUBISHI ESTATE Co., Ltd.)
To accommodate the increase in staff, the office is relocated to the 7th floor of the new Otemachi Building in Tokyo upon its completion.
Shin-Otemachi Building
(Photo source: MITSUBISHI ESTATE Co., Ltd.)
1959The 1959 Law, which is known as the current law, comes into effect and the Patent Law, Utility Model Law, Design Law, and Trademark Law are drastically revised.
The second Senior Managing Partner, Mr. Narihisa Asamura, is elected as the President of the Patent Attorney Association.
The firm moves to the third floor of the new Otemachi Building as the office is too small for more than 80 employees.
The number of cases handled annually has increased to over 10,000 (90% of which are foreign-related), the number of foreign agents (offices) associated with our firm has increased to 400, and the number of countries from which applications are filed abroad has exceeded 150.Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA) is established.
Asamura Engineering Service Co., Ltd. is established in February as an affiliate of Asamura Patent Office.
Mr. Narihisa Asamura is appointed a President, followed by Mr. Hajime Asamura. This company becomes the current Three Mast Co.
Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura succeeds to the presidency of the firm and becomes the third Senior Managing Partner of Asamura Patent Office. Mr. Narihisa Asamura is appointed a Senior Adviser, followed by Mr. Hajime Asamura who is appointed as a Vice President.
Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura, 3rd Senior Managing Partner
The firm's name is formally registered in English as "Asamura Patent Office"
1978The PCT and EPC come into effect. The Act on International Applications, etc. under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (International Application Act) comes into effect.
A general-purpose computer was installed in the office to systemize application preparation, deadline management, rights maintenance (pension management), and accounting-related tasks.
Introduction of a computer system
The firm begins accepting trainees from China.
Senior Managing Partner, Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura was awarded the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award.
A medal commemorating the 100th anniversary of the industrial property rights system (with the portrait of the first Commissioner of the Patent Office, Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi, engraved on the medal) is issued.
     A medal commemorating
Online filing starts on December 1, the same day the JPO starts accepting electronic applications.
Asamura Patent Office celebrates its 100th anniversary. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary, our service mark is registered as trademark through public competition. The service mark of the firm represents the firm embarking on the great sea of the second century by comparing the lower-case letter "A" of Asamura's initials to the sail of a ship, and the three masts of the patent, design, and trademark which portray our services.

   100th Anniversary Photo: Rooftop of Shin-Otemachi Building

Application Department / Patent Department

100th anniversary Asamura mark
The 3rd Senior Managing Partner, Mr. Kisyoshi Asamura, is elected as the President of the Patent Attorney Association.
1995The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) enters into force.
1999Japan becomes a signatory to the Protocol to the Madrid Agreement (Madrid Protocol), which enters into force in 2000.
Senior Managing Partner, Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura was awarded the Patent Attorney Association's Special Recognition Award.
2002The Intellectual Property Basic Law is enacted.
2005The Intellectual Property High Court is established.
Internet filing is launched. The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is launched.
The firm's name is formally changed to "Asamura Patent Office, p.c.".
The firm moves to Tennoz Central Tower to the 21st and 22d floors. ASAMURA LAW OFFICES is established and Mr. Masahiro Asamura, patent attorney and attorney-at-law, is appointed as its first Senior Managing Partner.
Tennoz Central Tower
Asamura Office Center Co. officially changes its name to Three Mast Inc.
Three Mast Co., Ltd. is established by merging Asamura Engineering Service Co.
Mr. Masahiro Asamura is appointed as a Senior Managing Partner of Three Mast Co.
Deputy Director, Mr. Ken Kanai was awarded the Japan Patent Attorneys Association Special Recognition Award.
Mr. Ken Kanai succeeds to the presidency of Asamura Patent Office,p.c.
Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura is appointed as the Managing Partner of the Board.
Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura was awarded the Minister of Industry and IP Achievement Awards by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura has been appointed Honorary President of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA).

Mr. Ken Kanai, 4th Senior Managing Partner
2015The Hague Agreement on the International Registration of Designs comes into force in Japan.
Asamura Intellectual Property Value Assessment Service (AIVAS) is launched.
Mr. Masahiro Asamura, Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura’s nephew, becomes Senior Managing Partner of Asamura Patent Office,p.c.. Mr. Ken Kanai becomes the Managing Partner and Mr. Kiyoshi Asamura becomes the Senior Adviser.
Mr. Masahiro Asamura, 5th Senior Managing Partner
Reception View of the Office

Takahashi Korekiyo, the first Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office

Takahashi Korekiyo(1854~1936)

Director of the Patent Office and
Director of the School of Agriculture and Forestry
(Age 36 in 1889)

San Francisco, USA, age 14, 1867

2 years old, 1873, on the left

Takahashi Korekiyo was born into the Kawamura family in Edo (modern day Tokyo) on July 27, 1854. He was adopted by the Takahashi family at the age of two, and at the age of fourteen (1867) he went to the United States to study English but due to unfortunate circumstances was forced to work as a slave there. After returning to Japan at the age of 15, he became an English teacher in the Higo Karatsu domain.unt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

In 1872, at the age of 20, he joined the Ministry of Education; in 1878, he became a lecturer at the Tokyo English School (now Nihon Gakuen); in 1878, he became a lecturer at the University of Tokyo’s College of Liberal Arts; in 1878, he became the principal of the Kyoritsu School (now Kaisei Junior and Senior High School); among his students were the haiku poet Masaoka Shiki, the great writer Natsume Soseki, and the naval commander Akiyama Saneyuki. He joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce in 1881.

At the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, he worked in the Research Division, drafting the Trademark Registration Rules and the Invention Monopoly Rules. In 1884, he was the Director of the Trademark Registration Office, and at the age of 32 (1885), he became the first Director of the Patent Office. In 1886, he traveled to the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to investigate the patent system. In New York, he was surprised to see the printing on a typewriter. After returning to Japan, he worked on the drafting of the Patent Law, and in 1887 established the Patent Office as an independent bureau. In 1890, he went to South America to work on the development of silver mines in Peru, but his efforts ended in failure, and he returned to Japan in 1891 penniless.

In the same year, at the age of 38, he was employed as the chief clerk in the construction office of the Bank of Japan’s main building. At the age of 46, he was appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan in 1898, Governor of the Bank of Japan in 1911, and Minister of Finance in 1913. In 1921, he became the 20th Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and at the same time the 4th President of the Seiyukai political party. In 1934, at the age of 81, he became Minister of Finance for the sixth time in the Okada Cabinet, and in 1936, at the age of 81, he was assassinated in the February 26 Incident.

Industrial Property System

Takahashi Korekiyo’s interest in patent and trademark registration began around 1874. At the time, he was working as an interpreter for Dr. Murray , an American who had been hired by the Ministry of Education to establish an educational system.

Dr. Murray asked him for advice on how to obtain the copyright for a dictionary that Dr. Hepburn was reprinting. Mr. Korekiyo went to the Ministry of Home Affairs to find out and was told that foreigners at that time had so-called extraterritorial rights, and that Japanese law did not extend to them, so there was no way to protect them. Dr. Murray pointed out that Japan had copyrights to protect writings but no provisions to protect inventions or trademarks, and that it was not appropriate for Japanese to imitate foreign goods, steal trademarks, and sell imitations as if they were imported goods. He called out that Japan needed a similar system as in the United States where inventions, trademarks and copyrights were the three most important intellectual properties. While talking to Dr. Murray, Mr. Korekiyo felt the importance of industrial property rights and decided to conduct a research based on the outline of the British Encyclopedia.

In the following years, Mr. Korekiyo worked to establish a trademark and patent system but encountered a lot of difficulties. In case of the trademark system, there was a problem of confusion between goodwill (trade name) and trademarks. According to the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, it was against business custom to register a trade mark that was the exclusive property of the owner and that it could not be used at all by others.

It was not until sometime later that the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce finally understood the distinction and agreed to enact the Trademark Ordinance, which was published in 1884. As for the patent system, the patent ordinance was enacted in 1885, although there was a strong opposition to it, as it had previously been suspended because there was no one to examine inventions and it was costly to employ a large number of foreigners.
Later, Mr. Korekiyo went to Europe and the United States to research foreign systems. During this visit, he was actively collecting materials on the patent system, and wanted to obtain a copy of the U.S. Patent Office’s weekly publication of decision records and other materials for the past five years. However, as five years’ worth of materials would be a huge amount of money, he negotiated for a free copy and agreed to exchange it for five years’ worth of the Japanese edition. However, as the book had not yet been published in Japan, it was decided that the five years would be sent once it was published.
While in Berlin on a tour of Europe and the United States, Mr. Korekiyo met a Kyoto textile manufacturer named Kawashima, who traveled around Europe with his family’s textile samples to take orders. He shared his experience by pointing out that Japan needs to establish a design system and that the emphasis should be on both the protection of the arrangement of colours and designs. He mentioned his designs for textiles and fabrics were stolen in Germany and France, and he offered to send samples of stolen designs to compare with the originals. It is often said that it was Kawashima’s samples that made Korekiyo aware of the importance of designs and inspired him to establish a design system in Japan.
It is not clear what was the outcome of Dr. Hepburn’s copyright case, but extraterritoriality regarding copyrights became an issue in the revision of unequal treaties. When Mr. Kaoru Inoue, who became Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in 1888, instructed Mr. Korekiyo to create a law to protect new machines imported from abroad by granting exclusive patents to the first importers, Korekiyo replied as follows:
“During my stay in England, I was told that in the revision of treaties, there is a lot that Japan asks of foreign countries, but not as much that foreign countries ask of Japan. It is better for Japan not to decide on the protection of inventions, but to make good use of it when the treaty is amended”
After this conversation, Mr. Inoue was convinced not to proceed further with the law establishment. Later, with the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation in 1894, patent applications from foreigners were accepted in 1896, and the country became a signatory to the Paris Convention in 1899.
(Photo: Takahashi Korekiyo, Takahashi Korekiyo autobiography (AL) (Chuko Bunko)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the patent system in 1936, NHK radio invited Mr. Korekiyo to appear on a program ” The Beginning of the Patent System”, but he did not like the idea and declined the request. Instead, he said he would give a lecture to an audience of about 300 people and agreed to let the radio crew place some of the equipment on the seats. However, when he arrived at the lecture hall on the day of the event, he found that a radio microphone had been placed there so he had no choice but to comply, and so his first radio lecture was given. It was so unusual for Mr. Korekiyo to give a talk on the radio that NHK had to cancel the fishing boat report, a very important broadcast at the time. The notes were taken in shorthand and distributed immediately at the exit of the hall, much to the surprise of the audience.
The JPO also holds “Takahashi Korekiyo’s posthumous manuscript on the patent system”, a collection of documents from 1885 that had been stored at the residence of Takahashi Korekiyo and was donated to the JPO for research for the 50th anniversary of the patent system.
All materials at the Patent Office were destroyed in a fire during the Great Kanto Earthquake, and it is only because some of the documents were stored at Korekiyo’s private residence that they survived, making them extremely valuable. Teiichi Nagamura (the 35th Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office), who was the JPO’s chief administrative officer at the time, interviewed Takahashi Korekiyo during this research. There were some interesting moments shared in the interview, such as a case of a fanatic applying for a patent for a coffin and being rejected then later protesting against Patent Office and chasing after Mr. Korekiyo. Another case involved two applicants protesting against the Patent Office, and the police officer following them all the way to the Soba noodle shop. After the officer overheard them saying they wouldn’t protest anymore, he reported to his team that there was nothing to be worried.

      Works Cited                                                                 

Japan Patent Office, “First Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, Korekiyo Takahashi”
Japan Patent Office website: www.jpo.go.jp/introduction/rekishi/shodai-choukan.html