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Quality of Patent Examination for Standards-Related Inventions Improved JPO and ITU agreed on cooperation in the fields of patents and standardization

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreed on cooperation in which the ITU comprehensively provides the JPO with standards-related documents for use in patent examination.

This effort will allow the JPO to efficiently utilize documents that private companies and associations have filed with the ITU in standard development procedures, including processes when such companies formulate standards, thereby enable companies and other entities to receive correct patent rights concerning standards-related inventions more quickly.

1. Background

Dramatic changes to our global society are being accelerated by a trend called the fourth industrial revolution which is led by new, advanced technologies, such as IoT, AI and big data. Information and communication technologies that form the basis of these changes and international standards as indispensable elements in the development of these technologies are increasing in importance. Against the backdrop of this growing importance of technologies and standards, companies and other entities have been applying for patents for new technologies which conform to existing standards (hereinafter referred to as “standards-related inventions”).

The JPO has been conducting prior art searches targeting non-patent literature, including world-wide standards-related documents, so as to facilitate patent examination procedures for standards-related inventions as a response to the situation.

2. Cooperation between the JPO and the ITU

Aiming to improve the patent examination process through more efficient prior art searches for non-patent literature, the JPO and the ITU, a standard setting organization which develops worldwide technical standards  in the field of telecommunications, agreed on cooperation in which the ITU comprehensively provides the JPO with standards-related documents for use in patent examination.

This agreement allows the JPO to collect standards-related documents provided by the ITU for the maintenance of databases exclusively for examiners and to utilize such documents in prior art searches. This process encourages examiners to access the ITU’s standards-related documents from such databases and to conduct more effective prior art searches. Moreover, in patent examination, in addition to documents concerning previously-issued standards, examiners will be able to access documents that companies have filed with the ITU in the process of formulating new standards, which were previously not easily accessible by examiners.

The JPO recognizes the request of IP users to engage further in prior art searches for non-patent literature, including standards-related documents.* The JPO believes that this cooperation will contribute to responding to this request and ensuring that more patent rights are correctly granted through more efficient prior art search for non-patent literature.

3. Future actions

The JPO and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) had previously concluded an agreement of cooperation equivalent to that the one described above.** The JPO will strive to deepen its cooperative relationships with both the ITU and ISO and also to seek out the potential of equivalent cooperative efforts with other standard setting organizations. Through these efforts, it will endeavor to further enhance examination quality.

*1: News release on March 29, 2017
User Satisfaction with Examination Increased (Results of the FY2016 User Satisfaction Surveys on Examination Quality)
**2: News release on May 12, 2014
JPO and ISO Agreed to Cooperate in the Fields of Patents and Standardization

Release date

May 9, 2017

Division in Charge

Examination Planning Office, Administrative Affairs Division, Patent and Design Examination Department (Physics, Optics, Social Infrastructure and Design), JPO

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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