Creating IP value for Asian companies

Header image: Ruslan Bardash /

Plougmann Vingtoft’s Asian Desk, located in the headquarters in Hellerup (Copenhagen), has specialized in helping Asian clients protect their business when entering the European market and vice versa. 

The importance of cultural understanding

The Asian Desk team at Plougmann Vingtoft was established in 2009 and it includes Shinji Okayama (Japanese Patent Attorney), Lasse Ringhofer (European Patent Attorney) & Helene Feltz Nybroe (Patent Paralegal).

The team works together on incoming cases from Asia with a special focus on Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean companies.

“For our Asian clients, in particular our Japanese clients, it is an obvious advantage that our two Japanese Patent Attorney, Shinji, speaks the local language and understand the cultural customs and business practices. This allows us to have a thorough understanding of what the client needs and how we can assist in their specific case,” Lasse Ringhofer explains.

Lasse Ringhofer, who is very fascinated by Eastern cultures, joined the team in 2014 after accompanying Shinji Okayama on a business trip to Japan.

Since then, he has provided IPR consulting for clients who needed more  knowledge about the European Patent System and the Unitary Patent.  

Lasse Ringhofer has visited Asia several times with the team. For him, what really benefits the clients is the team’s dedication to establish a durable relationship based on mutual trust:

“Each time, I get a better understanding of how our work can benefit the client’s situation. It is important that we have a strong, personal relation with our clients and that is why we spend extra time on their case and contact them, when we find information or news that are relevant for them specifically,” Lasse says.

In the picture, you see Shinji Okayama from The Asian desk team at Plougmann Vingtoft

Mixing business with adventure

Lasse Ringhofer and Shinji Okayama’s discuss both business matters and their shared interests on a daily basis. Both of them enjoy rock music, play guitar and like to enjoy gastronomical experiences – hobbies they enjoy talking about during their breaks at work. Their good working relationship further has a positive impact on their regular business trips, where they are able to work productively and still get a glimpse of the local culture.

“When we travel, we make time for the Japanese cuisine and traditions at business dinners. Sharing meals outside the negotiation room helps us change our perspective and gives us a valuable insight into the needs and ways of thinking of our Asian clients,” Lasse says.

The combination of professional meetings and informal business dinners has also given Lasse Ringhofer and the team a clear idea on how to build long-term business relationships in an Asian context:

“In contrast to the Western business style, where business comes first, the foundation of a good business partnership in Asia starts with a mutual trust and interest in the other’s success. Your main priority has to be how you can assist the clients. When I first came to Japan, I was expecting to have to find my own way around the city, but soon I found out that the Japanese will do everything they can to help you out, and this is also our philosophy: to help our clients in the best way that we can,” Lasse underlines.

At Plougmann Vingtoft we value our international outlook

Helping Asian businesses understand European IP rules

Our Asian Desk team reaches out to clients whenever something is relevant specifically to them: “When we engage with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and other Asian clients, we look at the more practical interests and matters that affect their intellectual property and patent application, such as the Unitary Patent and how it will benefit the clients. This means that we focus on what they really need to make their business succeed in Europe,” Shinji Okayama explains.

 “While only some Japanese IP firms focus on Europe, the amount of Japanese applications for intellectual property in Europe is actually increasing. This means that there is a growing demand for our expertise on European IP law and it is only natural that we try to accommodate the clients’ expectations and needs,” Lasse Ringhofer says.

Get in touch with us…

If you would like to know more about the services we provide for our Asian and/or European clients, please contact Shinji Okayama or Lasse Ringhofer.