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Welcome to the website of Inoue & Associates

Introductory Statement

Inoue & Associates (located within 1 minute walk from the Japan Patent Office) is an intellectual property (IP) firm having more than 35 years of experience in international IP business.

We are a modest-sized IP firm composed of members each having profound knowledge about the legal aspect of IP and the technologies involved therein as well as excellent skill in actual IP practice, such that high quality services can be offered constantly at a reasonable price.  Each one of our staff members is so trained as to be able to always provide high quality IP-related services including production of documents having a clear and logical construction whether they are in English or Japanese and irrespective of urgency or technical difficulties involved in particular cases.

Over the years, we have built up a solid reputation for our ability to efficiently acquire and protect IP rights in Japan.

We are confident that we can provide higher quality IP services than any other IP firms in Japan.


Features of Inoue & Associates

For acquiring and protecting patent rights, everything starts from the claims and specification of a patent application or a granted patent.  Whether a patent application can be granted with a desired protective scope or a granted patent can survive the challenge from a third party depends utterly on how good the claims and specification have been drafted in the first place.

Invalidation of patents, unexpectedly narrow scope of protection, defeat in infringement suit … all such undesired outcome could have been avoided only if the patent application had been better drafted. 

In the case of Japanese patent applications filed by non-Japanese entities, the claims and specification are usually translations from the non-Japanese texts of the first filed foreign applications or PCT applications. 

From this perspective, the translation of the patent claims and specification is actually more than just a translation and is practically tantamount to the preparation of a legal document which serves as a basis for seeking patent protection.  For this reason, the translation should be done with utmost care by IP professionals such as experienced patent attorneys or paralegals

And that is what we do and is not done by most of the IP firms in Japan

 

Problems related to traditional way of handling patent applications from outside Japan

In typical Japanese IP firms, applications from foreign clients are handled by a team of an IP professional (a patent attorney or a paralegal) and a translator. For example, the translation of a PCT specification for the Japan national phase entry is often carried out by one who is the least experienced in the IP firm or even by an outside translator.

The IP professions work on legal matters based on the translations prepared by translators which are not always so good or of a rather poor quality in many cases. This manner of handling patents is disadvantageous not only from the aspect of efficiency but also from the aspect of cost because poor translations of course make the entire procedure unnecessarily complicated and high translation fees are required even if the translations are not so good. Such inefficient and problematic practice as mentioned above has become customary because many Japanese IP professionals are not good at writing in English or even reading English documents, and the English-to-Japanese translations are generally assigned to beginners.

Consequently, many Japanese IP professionals have to rely on poor translations in their works, thus falling into a vicious cycle. It is not surprising even if patent applications from foreign clients are handled by those who do not fully understand what is disclosed in the original specification nor the clients’ instructions given in English during the prosecution of the application. For years, this has been a serious problem as far as the patent applications from outside Japan are concerned.

Our Solution

Such problems as mentioned above will never happen in the case of Inoue & Associates. Every one of our staff members has gone through very hard training and long actual experience to acquire ability to handle the IP cases alone from drafting patent specifications whether they are in Japanese or English to dealing with various procedures relating to patent applications or registered patents. We do not need and actually do not use any translator. Even in the case of foreign patent applications (in US, EP etc.) filed by Japanese applicants through our firm, the US or European patent attorneys often use our draft documents without any substantial change. That is, the documents drafted by Inoue & Associates as such are often submitted to the USPTO or the EPO.

There is no magic formula for acquiring good IP rights. This can be achieved only by hard work and skill obtainable through long and rich experience as always required in any fields for realizing high quality services.

Inoue & Associates is one of the very limited number of Japanese IP firms capable of constantly offering high quality IP services at a reasonable price. There has been and will be no compromise in the quality of services we provide to our clients and, for this very reason, we have been trusted by many foreign clients as well as domestic clients.

Our skill in IP business is highly esteemed by our clients including two famous Japanese professors emeriti, Dr. Nobuatsu Watanabe and Dr. Hidefumi Hirai, whose recommendations are shown in this web site. Further, if requested, we will be able to show you copies of some letters from various US and EP attorneys praising our abilities.

Our highly-skilled staff members will surely be of great help to your establishment of strong and valuable intellectual property portfolio while reducing cost.

If you are not sure, try us and we promise that we will never fall short of your expectations. You will immediately realize that we are dedicated to efficient acquisition and protection of your valuable intellectual properties and have skills to achieve this goal.

タグ:

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宣誓供述書の書き方について(1):米国(Part 1)

今回は、米国出願における37 C.F.R. § 1.132に基づくDeclaration又はAffidavit(以下、纏めて「宣誓供述書」と証す)の書式についてご説明します。(宣誓供述書で証明が可能な事項については、こちらで説明しております。)

1.形式的な要件

 宣誓供述書に記載する事項は、以下の通りです。

① 「IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE」と冒頭に記載する。
② 出願を特定する情報(出願人、出願日、出願番号、審査官の氏名など)。
③ 「DECLARATION UNDER 37 C.F.R. 1.132」という表題。
④ 宣誓者(declarant)の情報、具体的には、氏名、住所、最終学歴、職歴(職歴は、宣誓者として相応しいことを示すことができる限り、「~の研究や開発」という程度で構わない)。こちらでも説明しました通り、宣誓者としては、客観性の観点からは発明者以外が好ましいとされていますが、発明者でも支障はありません。
⑤ 宣誓者と本出願との関係。宣誓者が本出願の現状を理解していること。
⑥ 具体的な供述内容。
⑦ 供述内容に虚偽が無いことの宣誓。
⑧ 署名と日付。

2.供述内容

宣誓供述書を提出する状況として最も多いのは、自明性の拒絶を受けて、それに対して予想外の結果(unexpected results)を証明する場合であると思います。その場合の注意事項を以下に挙げます。

当然のことながら、回答の方針を念頭に入れて作成する必要があります。できれば、宣誓供述書を考慮させたただけで、自明性の拒絶理由が撤回されるような内容にすることが望ましいです。

これに関連して、実験報告書の原案を発明者の方が作成し、それを実質的にそのまま翻訳して提出してしまうということが実務上よく行われています。そして発明者の方は、技術の専門家ではありますが特許の専門家ではないために、必ずしも的確とは言えない内容の宣誓供述書になってしまっているというケースを目にすることがあります。その場合、いかに審査官が供述内容を真摯に検討しようとも、拒絶の撤回の根拠とはならないという状況に陥ってしまいます。従って、少なくとも発明と拒絶理由の内容を完全に理解した国内代理人に宣誓供述書の和文ドラフトを作成させて、それを翻訳させることが望ましいと考えます。(弊所では、必ず発明と拒絶の内容を理解した担当者本人が、英語で宣誓供述書を作成します。)

供述内容の決定手順の例を以下に挙げます。

① 現時点(補正後)のクレームの範囲を把握する。

② 先行技術との違いを特定する。

③ 上記の違いによって効果に差が生じるということが明確になるようなデータを取得する(実施例と比較例の結果の相違がこの特徴の違いに起因することが明確になるような条件設定とし、ここで行う比較実験が先行技術の再現実験として認められるような条件を採用しているかなどの点に留意する)。

④ 発明の特徴と効果の因果関係が明確になるようにデータの提示手段を工夫する。

⑤ データの量が不充分とみなされる可能性がある場合、既存のデータに基づいて、その結果がデータ不足分にも適用が可能であることを、合理的に説明する。場合によっては、公知文献に参照する。

⑥ 結論部(Conclusion)において、提示したデータが非自明の根拠として十分であることを簡潔に整理して説明する。

3.具体例

具体的な宣誓供述書の例を下記に示します。(米国出願の中間処理において弊所が実際に提出したものに基づいていますが、固有名詞・用語・数値などは適宜変更してあります。)

[例1]この例は、新たな実験を行うのではなく、明細書の実施例のデータに基づく考察を行って、結論を述べているものです。

供述内容が長くなる場合や、実験証明書を別途添付したい場合には、下記の例のように詳細をExhibit No.(書証番号、日本での甲号証や乙号証に相当)を付した別紙に記載します。

この例では別紙のExhibit 1において実施例のデータに基づく考察を詳しく行い、上記「⑤ 具体的な供述内容」でその内容を要約して述べています。もちろん、新たな実験に基づく宣誓供述書の場合は、別紙のExhibitにおいてその新たな実験の詳細と結果を述べて、上記「⑤ 具体的な供述内容」でその内容を要約して述べます。

宣誓供述書で結論を含む概要を述べ、詳細は別紙のExhibitとすることのメリットとしては、特に供述内容が長かったり複雑である場合に、審査官に先ず宣誓供述書で供述内容の概要を把握させ、その後、別紙のExhibitに記載された詳細により供述内容の合理性を判断させることにより、供述内容を容易且つ確実に理解してもらえるということが挙げられます。

尚、宣誓者(署名する人)の人称ですが、以前は弊所の実務として"he"や"she"などの三人称を使用しておりましたが、米国の代理人より一人称の"I"を使用するようにとのアドバイスを受けて、現在はこれに従っています。

(明細書の実施例のデータに基づく宣誓供述書の書式の1例)

IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

Applicants: Ichiro SUZUKI et al.
Serial No.: XX/XXX,XXX
Filed: June 10 20XX
For: POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE RESIN
Art Unit: 4133
Examiner: Thomas More


DECLARATION UNDER 37 C.F.R. 1.132

I, the undersigned, Ichiro SUZUKI, a Japanese citizen, residing at xxxxx, Akasaka 1-Chome, Minatoku, Tokyo 107-0052 Japan, hereby declare and state that:
I took a master course at the Department of Applied Chemistry, School of Engineering, ABCDE University, and I was graduated therefrom in March 1990.[*博士号取得者の場合: I was graduated in 1985 from the Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, ABCDE University, and took a doctor course in the Graduate School of Engineering, ABCDE University, majoring in applied chemistry, from which I was granted the degree of doctor in 1990.]
I entered FGHIJ Polymer Chemical Co., Ltd. in April 1990.
I have been engaged in the research and development of high performance polyester resins from April 1990 to date.
I am one of the applicants of the above-identified application and I am well familiar with the present case. I have read and understood the Office Action dated October 10, 2007 and the references cited therein.
I carried out Examples 1 to 25 and Comparative Examples 1 to 20 of the present application, and the results are as described on pages 160 to 220 of the specification of the present application.
I have made observations, with reference to Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Examples 1, 4 and 9 of the present application, to show that both of the side reaction index (C) requirement (i.e., less than 0.055) of step (1) and the "molten state" requirement of step (2) of the method of claim 4 of the present application must be satisfied for producing the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application. (Hereinafter, the former requirement is simply referrred to as "side reaction index (C) requirement", and the latter requirement is simply referred to as "molten state requirement".)  The method and results are as described in a paper attached hereto and marked "Exhibit 1".

From the results of Exhibit 1, it can be fairly concluded:
that, as shown in Table A in Exhibit 1, the process employed in each of Examples 1 and 2 satisfies all requirements of claim 4 of the present application, whereas:

each of Comparative Examples 1 and 4 employs a crude PET resin having a C value of 0.082 and, hence, do not satisfy the side reaction index (C) requirement, and 

Comparative Example 9 employs a solid-phase polymerization process and, hence, does not satisfy the molten state requirement

that the results of Examples 1 and 2 (i.e. the properties of the PET resins obtained) are excellent; specifically, the obtained PET resins possess all of the target properties recited in claim 1 of the present application (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that the results of Comparative Examples 1 and 4 are poor in that the PET resins obtained in Comparative Examples 1 and 4, respectively, exhibit cyclic polymer contents (% by weight) of 3.45 and 3.34, which exceed the upper limit (not greater than 3 % by weight) recited in claim 1 of the present application (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that the results of Comparative Example 9 are poor in that the obtained PET resin not only exhibits a molecular weight distribution (Mw/Mn) of 3, which exceeds the upper limit (from 2 to 2.7) recited in claim 1 of the present application, but also exhibits disadvantageously high crystallinity of 55 (which causes high brittleness)  (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that, thus, through a comparison between Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Examples 1 and 4, it is clear that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention cannot be obtained when the crude PET resin used does not satisfy the side reaction index (C) requirement; in other words, the side reaction index (C) requirement is critical for producing the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application;

that, further, through a comparison between Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Example 9, it is clear that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention cannot be obtained by a solid-phase polymerization process that is a representative conventional process; in other words, the molten state requirement is also critical for producing the excellent polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention;

that Comparative Example 9 also shows that, even in the case where the requirements of step (1) of the method of claim 4 (including the side reaction index (C) requirement) are satisfied, the excellent PET resin of the present invention cannot be obtained when the molten state requirement is not satisfied;

that thus, it is apparent that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application can be obtained only when the process employed satisfies both of the side reaction index (C) requirement and the molten state requirement.

The undersigned petitioner declares that all statements made herein of his own knowledge are true and that all statements made on information and belief are believed to be true; and further that these statements were made with the knowledge that willful false statements and the like so made are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code and that such willful false statements may jeopardize the validity of the application or any patent issuing thereon.

Date:

(宣誓者の署名) Ichiro SUZUKI

タグ:

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Practice Areas

▼Our practice areas include:

(1) filing and prosecuting domestic applications for patents, utility models, designs, trademarks and service marks,

(2) filing and prosecuting international patent applications,

(3) demands for trials, such as trial against a decision of rejection, trial for invalidation, and trial for correction,

(4) appeals before the Tokyo High Court against the trial decisions rendered by the Japan Patent Office,

(5) handling of foreign applications on behalf of Japanese and foreign applicants,

(6) maintenance, assignments and management of intellectual property portfolios, and

(7) translations of documents necessary for patent applications and translations of any other documents.

Samples

The following is a list of some examples of US patents obtained through our firm.

We suppose that it might be rather difficult for most of the non-Japanese clients to evaluate the quality of our works done for Japanese IP rights.

For such non-Japanese clients, the US patents listed may be useful for evaluating our abilities. We always dedicate tremendous efforts to draft English claims and specifications properly. For example, in the case of PCT applications, we draft Japanese specifications for PCT based on Japanese patent applications which had often been prepared and filed through other Japanese IP firms or by Japanese applicants themselves.

We usually make considerable modifications to the original Japanese specifications and claims for filing PCT applications. Especially in the case where the basic Japanese application has not been filed through our firm, we thoroughly check the application and usually redraft the claims into a form which has more clear and logical construction and can cover a desired protective scope, and also redraft the specification by supplementing information necessary to enable the invention or information which might be useful in the later prosecution stage for overcoming possible rejections.

Therefore, it can be said that, in many cases, the US patents are our translations of the Japanese language PCT specifications drafted by our firm.

We sometimes ask US patent attorneys to check our drafts of English specifications, but they usually find that no substantial change is necessary.

In addition, during the prosecutions of the foreign patent applications, our draft responses (amendments and arguments) are usually submitted to the patent offices without any substantial changes or with only minor changes.

Consequently, we believe that the US patents listed here would be of great help for you to evaluate our skills in IP business.

The documents which we prepare have been highly esteemed by the foreign patent attorneys.

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Exceptions to Lack of Novelty of Invention

Q1. We understand that Japan has a grace period for avoiding certain public disclosures from constituting prior art against a Japanese application.  How long is this grace period?

A1.  The grace period defined under Article 30 of the Japanese patent law (Exceptions to Lack of Novelty of Invention) is 6 months from the date of public disclosure.

Q2. What type of disclosures is capable of taking advantage of the Exceptions to Lack of Novelty of Invention in Japan?

A2.  According to current Article 30 of the Japanese patent law (effective as of April 1, 2012), virtually any disclosure, including “inventions made public at meetings and seminars, which are not academic conference designated by the Commissioner of the Patent Office, inventions made public on TV and radio, and inventions made public through sales”, are covered by the Exceptions to Lack of Novelty of Invention.  However, a patent publication is not a non-prejudicial disclosure.

Q3. Is the grace period applicable to scientific articles published on the web? 

A3.  The 6-month grace period is also applicable to electronic publications of scientific articles.  When a scientific article is published in the form of an electronic publication in advance to the publication in print, the 6-month grace period will start from the date of the electronic publication.  This rule applies not only to a free electronic publication, but also to an electronic publication which requires registered membership and/or purchase of the publication for accessing the electronic publication.

Q4. An invention has been published as a scientific article and a basic patent application has been filed in the US within 6 months from the publication of the scientific article.  Already 10 months have passed from the publication of the scientific article, but is it still possible to enjoy the benefit of the Japanese 6-month grace period by filing a Japanese patent application claiming the Paris convention priority from the basic US application filed within 6 months from the publication date? 

A4.  No.  Claiming of the Paris convention priority does not allow the filing date in Japan to date back for the purpose of grace period.  In other words, when a basic application is filed in other country within 6 months from the date of public disclosure, and a Japanese patent application claiming the convention priority from the basic application is filed after the expiration of the 6-months grace period, the Japanese patent application cannot enjoy the benefit of the grace period.

For receiving the benefit of the 6-month grace period in Japan, the Applicant must file within the 6-month grace period either one of the following applications:

   (1) Japanese national patent application*, or

   (2) PCT application designating Japan as one of the designated states. 

* Either a Japanese patent application or a PCT application claiming the convention priority from this Japanese patent application can be filed after the expiration of the grace period and still enjoy the benefit of the grace period.

Q5. What are the steps necessary for obtaining the benefit of the Japanese 6-month grace period?  

A5.  Necessary steps are explained separately for Japanese national patent application and PCT application.

Japanese national patent application:

A patent application is filed simultaneously with a Request for Grace Period within 6 months from the date of public disclosure.  Alternatively, the Request may be omitted by stating such effect in the patent application.

Next, a Document Verifying the Request, which is signed by all applicants, is filed within 30 days from the filing date of the patent application.  Filing of a specific evidence material (such as a copy of the scientific article disclosing the invention) is not required, but it is most advisable to file the evidence material with the Document.

PCT application designating Japan:

When a PCT application designating Japan as one of the designated states is filed within the 6 month grace period, such a PCT application will obtain the benefit of the grace period even when the PCT application enters the Japanese national phase after the expiration of the grace period (i.e., within non-extensible 30 month deadline).  In this case, both the Request for Grace Period and the Document Verifying the Request are filed within 30 days from the entry into the Japanese national phase. 

[Filing of the Request for Grace Period can be omitted when “Declaration as to Non-Prejudicial Disclosures or Exceptions to Lack of Novelty” (PCT Rule 4.17(v), 26ter.1) is made at the international stage.]

The Document Verifying the Request can be prepared at our end and forwarded for execution by the applicant(s). 

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Notice of Rejection

Q1. How long is the response period for Notice of Rejection?  Is any extension available?

A1.  The response period for the Notice of Rejection is 60 days (for Applicants residing in Japan) or 3 months (for Applicants residing outside Japan).  Applicants residing in Japan can obtain 1-month extension, and Applicant residing outside Japan can obtain extension of up to 3 months upon filing of a Request for Extension and payment of official fee (which is 2,100 yen per month).

Q2. We received a final Notice of Rejection from the Japan Patent Office.  What are the differences between the Notice of Rejection and the Final Notice of Rejection?

A2.  In principle, Final Notice of Rejection is issued when a new ground of rejection is necessitated by the Applicant’s amendment of the claims filed in response to the previous Notice of Rejection.  When the Applicant fails to overcome the reason for rejection of the Final Notice of Rejection, next Office Action will be Decision for Rejection.

In addition, after the issuance of the Final Notice of Rejection, there is a restriction to the scope of permissible claim amendments.  Please see section “Restriction to Permissible Claim Amendments after Final Rejection” for more details.


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