Japan’s TMI Associates plans Silicon Valley launch

Tokyo-based TMI Associates is planning to open an office in Silicon Valley in July, mainly targeting intellectual property related work.

TMI Associates, which has a long-standing joint venture with Simmons & Simmons in Tokyo, will be the first Japanese firm to plant a base in Silicon Valley. The new office will locate in the city of Palo Alto. Initially, the firm will relocate several Japanese and US qualified lawyers, including patent lawyers, to man the new office.

Many Japanese innovation companies are increasingly looking to build up R&D facilities in Silicon Valley. TMI said it aims to provide these companies with legal services ranging from patent rights acquisition, licensing to IP litigation.

According to The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 2014, which is to be published later this month, TMI is one of the fastest growing firms in Japan. At the end of 2013, it had 349 lawyers across eight offices. It overtook domestic rival Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, a best friend of Slaughter and May, and became the fourth largest Japanese firms by lawyer headcount.

It has been on an overseas expansion in recent years. In 2012, it opened an office each in Singapore and in Yangon. It is also the first Japanese firm to open in Vietnam with bases in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It also has joint venture offices in Japan with US firm Morgan Lewis and German firm ARQIS.

Apart from Japanese firms, Silicon Valley has also attracted a number of other Asian firms to set up shop, including Chinese firms King & Wood Mallesons and Jun He, both of which opened there in 2010.