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Japan's new patent rules

Kenji Sugimura of Sugimura International Patent & Trademark Attorneys summarises recent changes in patent practice in Japan

There have been various changes to the Japanese patent laws since 2006. They have been designed to: increase the possibility of licensing intellectual property; accelerate the patent examination process; harmonise the Japanese patent system with the systems of other countries; promote user-friendliness of the patent system in Japan; and clarify the scope of patentable subject matter in the medical field.

IP exploitation

In 2008, Japanese patent laws were revised to recognise provisional exclusive licenses and provisional non-exclusive licenses during the patent application phase. A registration system for such licenses was also created.

These new provisions allow a patentee to license intellectual property even before the issuance of a patent. Where a licensee registers a provisional exclusive or non-exclusive licence, the licensee can protect its rights to the provisionally licensed technology against a third party even before the issuance of a patent.

This means a patentee now has the ability to...

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