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Japan Patent OfficeJPO Compiled the Japan Patent Office Annual Report 2014-Aiming to realize an IP system with the world’s fastest and best qualified procedures-

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) hereby announces that it released the Japan Patent Office Annual Report 2014.

The annual report comprises of a summary of the current situation and future directions surrounding the intellectual property (IP) system as well as domestic and overseas trends, together with an analysis of the system based on related statistical information. The JPO has issued the annual report since 1949 when the JPO was established* and the 2014 report marks the 66th edition.

For the JPO, FY2013 is a critical year, being the final year that the JPO set for achieving the goal of shortening patent examination procedures before first action (FA) to 11 months or less, which is an interim direction for the patent administration that the Japanese government set in 2004. During the year, the JPO had to make some important decisions to establish new interim goals and future directions while taking into consideration the results of the effort.

*Note: In 1949, the Patent Bureau of the former Ministry of Commerce and Industry was reorganized into the Japan Patent Office under the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The key points of the report are as follows:

1. Changes in the circumstances surrounding the IP system

In FY2013, the accumulated numbers of applications reached beyond 15 million applications for patents, 2.65 million for designs, and 8.30 million for trademarks. In addition, the accumulated number of registered patents came to more than 5 million in January 2014. Even for the single year of 2013, there were 328,436 applications for patents, 31,125 for designs, and 117,674 for trademarks.

As Japanese enterprises have been developing business overseas, the number of patent applications filed from Japan to overseas patent offices in 2012 came to approximately 200,000, recording the highest level, almost doubling in a decade.

In particular, international applications from Japan utilizing single application procedures under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) have doubled over the last decade. In 2013, there were 43,918 applications (preliminary figures) under this system, second only in number to the these made in the U.S.

As shown above, the number of patent applications filed from Japan to overseas offices is significantly increasing. However, the ratio of such applications to the total domestic and overseas patent applications is still smaller than those in Europe and the U.S.

As additional information, the cover sheet of the Japan Patent Office Annual Report 2014 represents the current situations of international patent applications, adopting a world map design that visualizes the 2003 and 2012 trends in filing patent applications from Japan to overseas countries and regions.

Changes in the number of patent applications filed from Japan to overseas patent offices

Design of the Japan Patent Office Annual Report 2014

The scale of each circle represents the number of patent applications filed from Japan to other countries and regions. The inner circles show the numbers in 2003, while the outer circles show those in 2012, excluding Brazil which indicates the number for 2011.

2. Achieving the goal “FA11” and the world’s fastest and highest quality patent examination

The JPO successfully achieved the goal that it set in 2004 to shorten the period from the time a request for examination is made, up to when the first notice of examination results is sent (first action (FA)) to 11 months or less (FA11) by the end of FY2013.

As new goals for the coming decade, in March 2014 the JPO announced that by the end of the FY2023 it will shorten the examination period required for granting patent rights to 14 months or less on average, shortening the examination period in 2012 by half, and that it will also shorten the FA period to 10 months or less on average.

In addition, the JPO formulated the Quality Policy on Patent Examination as a basic principle to maintain and improve the quality of patent examination, aiming to achieve patent examination with the world’s highest quality. It will establish a committee of external experts for reviewing the situation of how the quality of patent examination is managed and how the management system is carried out.

Furthermore, along with globalization and the diversified business styles of enterprises’ business activities, it is important for Japanese enterprises to amass Intellectual Properties and utilize them. In the past, the JPO examined an individual application for each field of patents, designs and trademarks. However, in April 2013 it started a new initiative, titled “collective examination for IP portfolio supporting business activities,” under which it examines applications and grants rights across fields according to the timing of applicants’ business development. So far, including the experimental period, 40 businesses have already received the benefits of the initiative, and 519 applications for patents, 28 for designs, and 36 for trademarks have been examined under the initiative.

3. Enhancing the global competitiveness of the IP system

In September 2013, the Intellectual Property Committee under the Industrial Structure Council was established, chaired by Dr. Tamotsu Nomakuchi, advisor of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, aiming to focus on the challenges that the patent administration faces and to accelerate measures to solve them. Since then, five meetings were held. Finally, in February 2014, the committee compiled the results of the discussions into a report, showing a new direction of the patent administration.

The new direction stated that Japan should establish a user-friendly IP system that is competitive in the global market. In response, the JPO submitted the Bill for the Act of the Partial Revision of the Patent Act, etc., including the Patent Act, Design Act, Trademark Act and Patent Attorney Act, ahead of revising related systems, which is necessary for specific efforts to realize such an IP system. In April 2014, the bill was unanimously approved by the related committees both in the Houses of Representatives and Councillors, and the Act of the Partial Revision of the Patent Act, etc. was enacted.

The JPO will continue to endeavor to tackle various issues in order to enhance the global competitiveness of the IP system.

Reference: Outline of the Japan Patent Office Annual Report 2014

Table of contents:
Feature issue: Past IP policies and JPO’s future efforts
Chapter 1: Users’ IP activities in Japan
Chapter 2: JPO’s efforts
Chapter 3: Changes in the environments surrounding domestic and overseas IP
Chapter 4: Future directions of IP policies and specific efforts therefor

*Note: Full text of English edition of the report will be posted on the JPO website in due course. External Site Link

Release Date

May 14, 2014

Division in Charge

Policy Planning and Research Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, JPO

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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