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2006. 02.02


米国ニューヨーク州南部連邦地方裁判所は最近、日本の弁理士との交信にかかる秘匿特権保護に関し、重要な判断を下した。この判決について、以下に概説する。Eisai Ltd. v. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35597 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2005).

2005年12月21日の判決において、Gerard Lynch判事は、弁理士の法的助言およびその依頼を内容とする文書は、弁護士・依頼者間の秘匿特権により保護されると判断した。本訴訟において、原告Eisai Ltd.およびEisai Inc.は、弁護士・依頼者間の秘匿特権を主張し、弁理士の法的助言およびその依頼を内容とする相当数の文書提出を拒んだ。これに対し、被告はかかる文書の強制提出を申し立てた。裁判所は、Eisaiの文書が秘匿特権により保護され、これを提出する必要がないと認めた予審判事(Magistrate Judge)の決定を支持し、国際礼譲として、日本法を参酌するべきであると判示した。




U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Rules that Attorney-Client Privilege Covers Communications with Japanese Benrishi

This bulletin summarizes a significant recent decision of the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York regarding privilege protection for communications with Japanese benrishi. Eisai Ltd. v. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35597 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2005)

In a decision dated December 21, 2005, District Judge Gerard Lynch ruled that documents reflecting legal advice provided by Japanese benrishi and requests for such advice are protected by the attorney-client privilege. In the litigation, plaintiffs Eisai Ltd. and Eisai Inc. asserted the attorney-client privilege to withhold a number of documents soliciting and reflecting legal advice of benrishi. Defendants moved to compel production of these documents. In affirming a finding by the magistrate judge that Eisai's documents were protected by the privilege and need not be produced, the court reasoned that, as a matter of comity, it should look to Japanese law on the subject.

The court cited two earlier New York district court cases, which had held that, where communications to or from a foreign patent agent involved a foreign patent, U.S. courts should recognize the same attorney-client privilege protection that would apply under the law of the foreign country, subject to overriding U.S. policy concerns. In the Eisai case, the parties did not dispute that the Japanese Code of Civil Procedure extends a privilege to documents created by benrishi, and that it had done so since at least 1998, when Japanese law was revised to provide for more liberal discovery of documents in civil litigation.

The court rejected defendants' argument that comity did not require recognition of privilege protection for Eisai's documents because the benrishi privilege was different from the U.S. attorney-client privilege. The court held that total congruence between U.S. and Japanese law was not required to extend comity, and that in any event, the benrishi privilege was comparable to the attorney-client privilege under U.S. law. The court also found unpersuasive defendants' argument, raised for the first time in its reply brief, that extending a privilege to a Japanese patent agent that is not accorded to American patent agents under U.S. law violates U.S. public policy concerns.

As noted in the opinion, the result in this case was consistent with that of other federal courts that have considered the issue following Japan's adoption of the 1998 amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure.

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