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Japan Patent OfficeThe System of International Patent Application under the PCT is Made Easier to Use~ “Handbook for PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination in the Japan Patent Office” has been prepared ~

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) has newly prepared the “Handbook for PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination in the Japan Patent Office” as comprehensive guidelines, unprecedented in the world, with details and illustrations on the practices and procedures with respect to PCT international applications (*1), and also published the English version at the same time. This will enhance the transparency of the operation of the JPO and allow users both in Japan and overseas to have better predictability when making use of the PCT system. In addition, this will enable foreign patent offices and the JPO to build a cooperative relationship regarding international searches and preliminary examinations.

1. Positioning of the Handbook

Recently, the JPO has increased the opportunities for conducting international searches and preliminary examinations for PCT international applications filed with foreign Offices acting as Receiving Offices (*2). Under these circumstances, the JPO has newly prepared and published this handbook in order to (i) facilitate users both in Japan and overseas to make use of the PCT system more easily and (ii) allow foreign patent offices to have more trust and confidence than before in international searches and preliminary examinations performed by JPO examiners through the enhancement of transparency with respect to international searches and preliminary examinations.
Guidelines on the PCT international applications are available in other countries, however, a comprehensive handbook with details and illustrations like the present one is unprecedented in the world.

2. Key Points of the Handbook

  • The whole picture of the PCT system and the practices and procedures of examiners with respect to international searches and preliminary examinations are explained in an easily understandable manner using flow charts. (See Figure below as an example)
  • The content of each box in the PCT forms that established by examiners and sent to an applicant is explained.
  • The judgment criteria of examiners are clarified showing the relationship with the Revised " Examination Guidelines for Patent and Utility Model.”

This will enhance the transparency of the operation of the Japan Patent Office and allow users both in Japan and overseas to have better predictability when making use of the PCT system. In addition, this will enable foreign patent offices and JPO to build a cooperative relationship regarding international searches and preliminary examinations.

3. Publication and Time of Application to Practical Use

This handbook will be applied to international searches and preliminary examination as from October 1, 2015 onward.

*1 The filing of an international application under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) will have the effect of a regular patent application in all Contracting States to the PCT on that filing date. Since searches on prior arts are conducted and written opinions on the patentability are established by an Authority appointed under the PCT for each PCT international application, Offices in designated or elected States can conduct their own examinations in light of these search results and opinions.

*2 The JPO conducts international searches and preliminary examinations with respect to PCT international applications filed with respective receiving Offices in Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, United States of America (started as from July 1, 2015 regarding specific fields and a predetermined number of applications) and Brunei Darussalam (starting today) in response to the choice made by applicants.

*3 Revised "Examination Guidelines for Patent and Utility Model” (English version)
http://www.jpo.go.jp/iken_e/back_20150916_guide.htm External Site Link

Release date

October 1, 2015

Division in charge

Examination Standards Office, Administrative Affairs Division
Japan Patent Office

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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