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Patent registration in Japan (Patent Law amended 2023)

Patent registration is a critical process for inventors and innovators seeking to protect their intellectual property in Japan. This country has always been one of the world’s leading countries in the number of patent applications, demonstrating its focus on innovation and technological development. Statistics show that in 2022 Japan ranks 3rd globally in the number of patent applications, with about 280,000; in 2021, Japan filed 304,545 patent applications. It can be said that Japan is always in the top 5 countries with the highest number of patent applications in the world. High-tech fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and renewable energy are the focus of research and development activities in Japan. Japan is one of the world leaders in robot development and automation. Robotic applications in manufacturing, services, healthcare, and entertainment are expanding, so patents related to industrial robots, service robots, medical robots, educational robots, and entertainment robots all have great potential. AI is being widely applied in many fields in Japan, from manufacturing and finance to transportation and healthcare. Patents related to machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and intelligent robotics all have strong growth potential. Therefore, more and more patents are registered in Japan. Viet An Law would like to guide customers preliminarily the procedure for patent registration in Japan.

Patent registration in Japan

 

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    Legal basis

    • Patent Law (Act No. 121 of April 13, 1959, amended until July 3, 2023)

    General overview of patents in Japan

    Definition of patent and patent conditions

    In Japan, a patent is defined as an exclusive right granted to an patent, which is a product or process that provides a new way to do something or offers a new technical solution to a problem.

    The Japanese Patent Law sets out the following conditions for an patent to be patented:

    • Industrial applicability: The patent must be able to be used in industry.
    • Novelty: The patent must be new and not within the scope of existing engineering (existing knowledge or technology).
    • Creative step: The patent should not be too obvious to someone with expertise in this field.
    • No harm to public order, morals or public health: The patent must not violate any of these principles.

    Types of patents that can be registered

    • Patents: This is the most common type of patent and includes patents of new products or processes, which have an inventive step, and have the potential for industrial application. The patent right lasts 20 years from the date of filing.
    • Utility type registration: This is a form of intellectual property protection for patents of new products and potential industrial applications. It is sometimes called a “small patent” and has a shorter protection period of 10 years. The requirements for utility-type are generally less stringent than patents.

    Patent lookup in Japan

    J-PlatPat

    It is the official online database of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and provides free access to patent information, including publications, legal status, and full-text documents. You can search by various criteria, such as patent number, applicant name, keyword and date. It offers both Japanese and English interfaces.

    Industrial Property Digital Library (IPDL)

    This is another official database managed by the National Center for Information and Training on Industrial Property (INPIT). It provides a wider range of industrial property information, including patents, industrial designs, designs, and trademarks. In addition, it also provides information on abstracts in English for Japanese patent applications.

    Gazette of Patents and Utility Types

    This is the official gazette of the JPO published weekly. It contains information and summaries of newly published patent applications. Customers can search the gazette online or access printouts at the library.

    Patent application in Japan

    • Patent application: This form includes information such as the name of the patent, the name and address of the inventor(s) and applicant(s), and the date of filing.
    • Description: This is a detailed description of the applicant’s patent, including its context, technical field, the problems it solves, and how it works. The applicant must provide sufficient detail so that a person with expertise in the field can understand and reproduce the patent. Information usually consists of the following sections:
      • Name of patent
      • Technical field
      • Background art
      • Patent summary
      • A brief description of the drawings (if any)
      • Detailed description of the patent
      • Industrial applicability
    • Claims: This is a numbered list of claims to determine the scope of protection for one’s patent. Protection claims are the most important part of a patent application, as they define the scope of the applicant’s exclusive rights.
    • Drawings (if any): If the applicant’s patent can be illustrated, drawings should be provided to help clarify the description.
    • Summary: A brief summary of the patent, usually about 150 words or less.
    • Priority Document (if applicable): If the applicant has filed a patent application for the same patent in another country within the last 12 months, the applicant can claim priority rights.
    • Power of attorney (if applicable): If the applicant files through a patent representative, it is necessary to provide a power of attorney to them on behalf of the applicant.
    • Other documents (if applicable): Depending on the case of the applicant, the applicant may need to submit other documents, such as a transfer agreement if the applicant is not the inventor, or a statement of copyright.

    Patent registration fee in Japan

    Application fee

    • Patent application: ¥14,000 (about US$100)
    • Application in a foreign language: ¥22,000 (approx. US$160)

    Appraisal Request Fee

    • Basic fee: ¥118,000 (about US$850)
    • Additional fee per request (over 3): ¥4,000 (approx. US$30) per request

    Annual fee

    An annual fee is paid to maintain the validity of the patent. These fees increase each year. The first three years are paid in a lump sum at the time of registration.

    • Years 4-6: ¥47,200 (about US$340) per year
    • Years 7-9: ¥92,700 (about US$670) per year
    • Years 10-12: ¥188,400 (about US$1,360) per year
    • Years 13-15: ¥376,800 (about US$2,720) per year
    • Years 16-18: ¥753,600 (about US$5,440) per year
    • Years 19-20: ¥1,507,200 (about US$10,880) per year

    Patent registration in Japan through the PCT system

    What is a PCT system?

    The PCT system stands for  Patent Cooperation Treaty – an international treaty that aims to create a uniform process for filing international patent applications. The system is administered by  the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and has more than 150 participating countries, including Japan.

    Benefits of PCT system:

    • Time and cost savings: The PCT system allows applicants to file a single patent application for patent protection in multiple Treaty countries, instead of having to file a separate application in each country. This saves time, costs and administrative procedures.
    • Postponement of national filing deadline: When filing a PCT application, the applicant has an additional 30 months to decide which country the applicant wants to protect the patent. This is valuable time for the applicant to assess the commercial potential of the patent and prepare for the national filing.
    • Simplified Process: The PCT system uses a common set of rules and procedures for all participating countries, which simplifies the filing process and saves time for both the applicant and the national patent office.
    • Early Search Information: The International Patent Search Office and Written Opinion will provide the applicant with information about the novelty and patentability of the patent, helping the applicant make an informed decision about the national filing.
    • Strengthening international cooperation: The PCT system encourages international cooperation in the field of patents by creating a common platform for the exchange of information and sharing of experiences between countries.
    • Innovation support: PCT systems help promote innovation by reducing the procedural burden on inventors and making it easier for them to protect their patents worldwide.

    Patent application through PCT system

    To file a patent application through the PCT system, you need to prepare a dossier that includes the following documents:

    • PCT Application: Applications can be submitted in Vietnamese or English, however, it is recommended to be submitted in English to facilitate the processing process. You can download the PCT form from the WIPO website: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/forms/
    • Description of patent: The description of the patent should present details and clarity about the patent, including:
      • Patent Name Technical field
      • Patent summary
      • Detailed explanation of the patent
      • Drawings (if any)
      • Claims for protection
    • Claim for protection: The claim should clearly define the scope of protection that the applicant wants for the patent.
    • Patent Declaration: The patent statement should clearly identify the inventor (or inventors).
    • Letter of Authorization (if applicable): If the applicant uses an intellectual property representative to file the application, the applicant should provide a Power of Attorney Letter authorizing the representative to represent the applicant on behalf of the applicant during the application process and processing the procedure.

    Additional documents (may require):

    • Priority Document (if applicable): If the applicant filed a patent application for the same patent in another country prior to filing the PCT application, the applicant may claim priority based on the filing date.
    • Translation (if applicable): If any of the documents on file are not in English or French, the applicant needs to provide a translation into either of these languages.
    • Application fee: The applicant needs to pay the PCT application fee to the International Reception Office (IB).

    Patent registration service in Japan of Viet An Law Firm

    • Perform the search and notify customers in writing of the results of patent search in Japan;
    • Drafting dossiers and directly submitting and monitoring the status of patent applications filed in Japan on behalf of the patent owner;
    • Inform, advise and handle deficiencies/refusals of competent State agencies (if any) in the process of monitoring patent applications in Japan;
    • Support monitoring, representing the resolution of objections and feedback with intellectual property representatives carrying out procedures in Japan.
    • Receive dispatches, certificates and hand over to customers (if any).

    If you need to file a patent application in Japan, please contact Viet An Law Firm for the most effective support.

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