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Japan Patent OfficeJPO Reached an Agreement with IPOS to Start an Examination Capability Enhancement Program in collaboration with the Private Sector

On August 25, 2015, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) had talks with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and reached an agreement to start an Examination Capability Enhancement Program in collaboration with the Private Sector between the two offices. Through this program, the JPO and PCT users will cooperate in contributing to enhance the examination capability of the IPOS as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA). The program will not only promote the improvement of the environment for intellectual property protection in Singapore but also contribute to the promotion of smooth international business development in the ASEAN region.

1. Background

The ASEAN countries are important business partners and have great potential as a region in which Japanese companies can develop their business activities. The JPO has supported the improvement and strengthening of intellectual property systems in the ASEAN countries with a view to creating a better investment environment so that Japanese companies can develop their businesses smoothly.
Singapore has the largest number of patent applications*1 among the ASEAN countries and the improvement of the environment for intellectual property protection in the country has advanced rapidly. Under these circumstances, the JPO has provided cooperation in patent examinations to the IPOS by starting a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)*2 pilot program, acting as a competent ISA and IPEA for international applications based on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filed with the IPOS,*3 and by sending patent examiners from the JPO.
Furthermore, in line with the commencement of substantive examination of patent applications (Positive Grant System*4) by IPOS in 2014, the JPO has been strengthening its cooperation in the field of patent substantive examination such as through the long-term sending of a patent examiner from the JPO as a senior patent examiner of the IPOS since December 2014.
Through the above support, from September 2015, IPOS is scheduled to start full operations as the first ISA and IPEA*5 among the ASEAN intellectual property offices.

2. Commencement of an Examination Capability Enhancement Program in collaboration with the Private Sector

On August 25, 2015, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) had talks with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and reached an agreement to start an Examination Capability Enhancement Program in collaboration with the Private Sector between the two offices. The program is commenced in response to the fact that the IPOS will be the first ASEAN IP office to start full operations as an ISA/IPEA for PCT international applications in September. In cooperating with the IPOS to enhance its examination capability as an ISA/IPEA, (i) the JPO and the IPOS will jointly conduct dialogues on international search/international preliminary examination with PCT users including Japanese companies, (ii) the JPO will send its patent examiner to the IPOS to support the operations as an ISA/IPEA and harmonize the systems and practices based on the PCT in both offices, and (iii) by adding the IPOS as an competent ISA/IPEA for PCT international applications received by the JPO, build a new bilateral relationship as each other’s competent authority.

3. Future Prospects

Based on the program, the JPO will send a patent examiner to the IPOS possibly in autumn. After sending the examiner, there are plans to start conducting dialogues between the JPO/IPOS and the PCT users within this fiscal year.
Furthermore, the JPO will proceed with preparations to enable Japanese applicants to select IPOS as a competent ISA or IPEA in the international applications. The date for starting operations will be announced later.
Based on the agreement, the JPO will not only promote the improvement of the environment for intellectual property protection in Singapore but will also contribute to the promotion of smooth international business development in the ASEAN region.

*1: The annual number of patent applications filed in Singapore was 9,722: 3,515 applications were from the United States (36% of the total applications), 2,541 applications from European countries (26% of the total), and 1,384 applications from Japan (14% of the total). (As of 2013)

*2: Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH): The Patent Prosecution Highway is a framework in which an application with an invention determined to be patentable at the Office of First Filing can undergo an accelerated examination through simple procedures at the Office of Second Filing upon an applicant’s request. (The pilot program between JPO and IPOS started in July 2009.)

*3: The JPO started to act as a competent ISA and IPEA for PCT international applications filed in IPOS. (From December 2012)

*4: In February 2014, the revised Singapore Patent Act came into force and the Positive Grant System was introduced. Under this system, only a patent application that is given positive opinions on its patentability in an examination report can be granted a patent. (Before this system came into force, IPOS had employed a system (Self-assessment Patent System) under which an application could be granted a patent if the applicant requested a patent grant even when an examination report including negative opinions on its patentability was issued.)

*5: To become an ISA and IPEA, it is necessary to meet the requirements specified by the PCT and to be selected by the Assembly of the PCT Union. The number of offices currently operating as ISAs and IPEAs is 18 in total (Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, the European Patent Office, Spain, Finland, Israel, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Sweden, the United States of America, the Nordic Patent Institute (Denmark, Norway, Iceland)).

Release date

August 26, 2015

Division in Charge

  • International Cooperation Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, JPO
  • Administrative Affairs Division, Patent and Design Examination Department (Physics, Optics, Social Infrastructure, and Design), JPO
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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