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Report Compiled by the Intellectual Property System Study Group for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Regarding corporate strategies in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an ideal intellectual property system that supports those companies, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has had comprehensive discussions focusing on utilization of data, industrial property rights system and international standardization, and has compiled a report.

1. Background

It is necessary to formulate an intellectual property system which balances the promotion of data use and the protection of related rights with regard to new information property such as big data accumulated via sensors and works created by AI (Artificial Intelligence). Additionally, three-dimensional comprehensive strategies are needed, which cover data, which has newly been included as a “new source of competitiveness”, in addition to intellectual property and standardization. In order to consider an ideal system and its operation in response to these needs, METI established the Intellectual Property System Study Group for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which includes academic and industrial experts (chaired by Toshiya Watanabe, Professor of the Policy Alternatives Research Institute, the University of Tokyo) in October 2016 and discussions have proceeded at meetings of the Study Group.

2. Outline of the Report

In light of the abovementioned background, the current situation and problems were examined and a report was prepared as indicated in the attachment, incorporating measures to be taken from this point. The key points concerning future measures are as follows.

  1. Utilization of data
    • Ideal data protection systems such as providing remedies including compensation for damages or injunctive relief against a person who obtains data illegally shall continue to be discussed to determine future directions in view of amendment of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act as well.
    • Data-category-dependent appropriate protection of data and rules concerning contracts should be examined in line with the current situation of data utilization among companies and contract terms, and contractual guidelines should be drawn up to ensure that the scope of data use is properly and fairly defined and clarified within contracts.
  2. Industrial property rights system
    • Regarding data structures, which have patent eligibility, predictability of obtaining rights should be enhanced.
    • From the perspective of developing an intellectual property system that supports new business models which utilize Internet of Things (IoT), efforts should be made to review Examination Guidelines for software-related inventions, develop means to better utilize business-related patents, facilitate utilization of newly established patent classifications, and build patent examination systems to respond to cross-sectoral technology.
    • Deliberations should continue concerning the protection of rights for cross-border infringements, while taking into account accumulating court cases.
    • With regard to industrial property rights on inventions by AI and data for 3D printing, the protections currently provided under the Acts should be adequate, but future developments need to be monitored carefully.
    • In consideration of disputes over standard essential patents, the introduction of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system (under which the government decides proper licensing terms for standard essential patents) should be discussed together with the revision of the Patent Act if needed.
    • In order to address disputes over license agreements and patent infringements, an ADR system that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can easily utilize should be deliberated.
  3. International standardization
    • Cross-industrial projects should be considered through the utilization of the New Market Creation Standardization System and National Research and Development Agencies, thereby strengthening standardization systems in the public and private sectors.
    • Based on the Three Action Plans for the Development of Human Resources Responsible for Standardization and other policies, efforts should be strengthened for developing human resources responsible for standardization, such as increasing understanding of standardization among top management and fostering experts in standardization and patent attorneys and other professionals to support those human resources.
    • The roles of patent attorneys as experts in intellectual property in standardization-related business should be clarified.

In addition to the above, the current status, problems and future measures to be taken are compiled in the report for each industrial sector and from the perspectives of both SMEs and venture companies.

3. Future Directions

Based on the outcome achieved by the Study Group, discussions on actualization of the policies will be held at meetings of the Industrial Structure Council while exchanging opinions with industry and experts in relevant fields.

Appendices (in Japanese)

Related information

Release date

April 19, 2017

Division in Charge

Concerning utilization of data
Intellectual Property Policy Office, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau
Concerning industrial property rights system
General Coordination Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, Japan Patent Office
Concerning international standardization
Technical Regulations, Standards and Conformity Assessment Policy Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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