Q4

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). 

タグ:

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Appeal against the Decision for Rejection

Q1. We understand that an Appeal can be filed against the Decision for Rejection.  What are the steps necessary for filing an Appeal?

A1.  Firstly, a Notice of Appeal, which is a formal document requesting the initiation of Appeal Proceedings, is filed by the deadline which is three months (for Applicants residing in Japan) or four months (for foreign Applicants) from the dispatch date of the Decision for Rejection. 

Further, any amendment  (if any) must be filed simultaneously with the filing of the Notice of Appeal.  (In the case of patent applications filed on or before March 31, 2007, divisional applications can be filed only simultaneously with the filing of the Notice of Appeal.  In the case of parent patent applications filed on or after April 1, 2007, divisional applications can be filed either before, simultaneously with or after the filing of the Notice of Appeal as long as it is before the expiration of the above-mentioned deadline for filing the Notice of Appeal.)  With respect to the amendment, please note that there is a restriction to the permissible claim amendments.  Please see section “Restriction to Permissible Claim Amendments after Final Rejection” for more details.

Next, any arguments, reference materials and/or experimental reports are filed as an Appeal Brief (i.e., Reasons for Appeal).  The Appeal Brief can be filed either simultaneously with the Notice of Appeal or after the filing of the Notice of Appeal.  When the Appeal Brief is not filed with the Notice of Appeal, the due date for filing the Appeal Brief will be set by the Japan Patent Office, and it is usually about 2 months from the filing date of the Notice of Appeal.

Q2. Is it possible to obtain any extension of deadline for filing the Notice of Appeal or the Appeal Brief?

A2.  No.  The deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal and an Appeal Brief are non-extensible

Q3. Is it possible to submit new experimental data in the appeal stage?

A3.  Yes.  Any experimental data can be filed together with the Appeal Brief except that effectiveness of data may vary depending on the purpose of the data.

Submission of data for demonstrating novelty and/or inventive step of an invention over prior art is effective if the data itself is appropriate for this purpose; whereas data submitted at the appeal stage cannot compensate for the lack of enabling disclosure or lack of support in the specification, and such data are usually dismissed as late filed.

The Japanese patent system does not allow for applicants to establish the enabling disclosure requirement and/or supporting disclosure requirement through later-filed evidence. That is, these requirements must be satisfied by the patent application as filed, and later-filed data for making up the deficiency in this respect will not be admitted by the JPO.

Q4. Is there an opportunity to file additional amendments and/or divisional applications after the filing of the Notice of Appeal?

A4.  Concerning additional amendments after the filing of the Notice of Appeal, such additional amendments are admissible only when the applicant responds to a Notice of Rejection which may or may not be issued in the appeal stage.   That is, the applicant may not be given any opportunity to file an amendment after the filing of the Notice of Appeal.  Therefore, it is safer to consider that the time of filing of the Notice of Appeal is substantially the last chance to file amendments.

On the other hand, as mentioned in A1 above, in the case of patent applications filed on or after April 1, 2007, divisional applications may be filed even after the filing of the Notice of Appeal as long as it is before the expiration of the deadline for filing the Notice, i.e., three months (for Applicants residing in Japan) or four months (for foreign Applicants) from the dispatch date of the Decision for Rejection.

タグ:

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Divisional Application

Q1. Is it possible to file a divisional application from a pending Japanese patent application?

A1.  A divisional application can be filed from a pending Japanese patent application, but periods for filing a divisional application depends on the filing date of the parent application.

 Divisional application from a parent application filed on or before March 31, 2007 can be filed: 

  (1) any time until the 1st Office Action is issued by the Patent Office,

  (2) within a period for filing a response to an Office Action, and

  (3) simultaneously with the filing of a Notice of Appeal.

 Divisional application from a parent application filed on or after April 1, 2007 can be filed: 

  (1) any time until the 1st Office Action is issued by the Patent Office,

  (2) within a period for filing a response to an Office Action,

  (3) within a period when a Notice of Appeal can be filed against the Decision for Rejection (*note that a divisional application can be filed within this period even without the actual filing of a Notice of Appeal or even after the filing of the Notice of Appeal), and

  (4) within 30 days from the issuance of a Decision to Grant.

Q2. Our patent application in Japan was granted as a result of an Appeal against the Decision for Rejection.  Is it possible to file a new divisional application from the granted patent application?

A2.  No.  Regardless of the filing date of the parent application, when an Appeal is filed, a divisional application cannot be filed any longer after the final decision.

Q3. Is the filing of only claims sufficient for filing a divisional application?

A3.  Not only claims, but the whole specification including drawings and sequence listing (if any) is required.  Further, filing of an explanatory Written Statement on the divisional application for explaining (1) supports for the claims, and (2) differences between the parent application and the present divisional application is required by the Japan Patent Office. 

Q4. Is it acceptable to first file a divisional application with the same claims as the patent application and then later amend the claims? 

A4.  Yes, it is acceptable as long as the claims are to be amended later during the prosecution of the divisional so as not to overlap with those of the parent because no double patenting is permitted. 

The Applicant is requested to file a Written Statement for explaining how the divisional differs from the parent, etc.   The Statement should be filed earlier than or simultaneously with the filing of a request for examination.

Further, in the case of a divisional application from a parent application filed on or after April 1, 2007, the claims of such a divisional application (which may be submitted as amendment after filing of the divisional) should be drafted so as to remove all of the reasons for rejection issued against the parent.  When the examiner finds that the claims of the divisional can be rejected on the same ground as the parent, the first Notice of Rejection is made final, and permissible claim amendments are restricted as in the case of the "amendment after final Rejection".  Please see item “Restriction to Permissible Claim Amendments After Final Rejection” for more details.

タグ:

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Third Party’s Statement

Q1. We would like to submit prior art information which may be used for rejecting a pending patent application.  What type of prior art materials is accepted at the Japan Patent Office? 

A1.  Only printed materials are to be accepted. 

Q2. After the filing of the Third Party’s Statement, do we get any feedback from the Patent Office or the Applicant of the contested patent application?

A2.  Upon request from the Party filing the Statement, the Japan Patent Office will inform the Party about the use or non-use of submitted materials in the Office Action issued against the contested patent application. 

However, the Party will not be informed about filing of any comments or arguments by the applicant of the contested patent application.  We can perform periodic file inspection of the contested patent application to watch for the filing of any comments or arguments against the Third Party’s Statement.

Q3. Is it possible to file a Third Party’s Statement anonymously?

A3.  Yes, but in this case, we cannot obtain any feedback from the Patent Office.  However, we can perform periodic file inspection of the contested patent application to watch for the issuance of the Office Action.

Q4. A Third Party’s Statement has been filed against our pending Japanese patent application.  Is it possible for an Applicant of the contested patent application to file an argument against the Third Party’s Statement?

A4.  Yes.  Any arguments and/or comments on a Third Party’s Statement can be filed in the form of a Written Statement at any time before the issuance of a final Decision (i.e., Decision to Grant or Decision for Rejection) by the Japan Patent Office.

 

 

 

その他(商標)

Q1. 日本の商標登録出願に基づく優先権主張をして外国に商標登録出願する場合、特許の場合と同様に、日本出願から1年以内に外国出願すれば良いのか?

A2. パリ条約に基づく優先期間は、特許については1年ですが、商標については6ヶ月と定められています。従って、日本の商標登録出願の日から6ヶ月以内に外国出願手続きを完了させなければ優先権を享受することはできません。

Q2. 直接外国へ商標登録出願することに対する国際商標出願(マドリッドプロトコル出願)のメリットとデメリットは

A2. マドリッドプロトコル出願(所謂「マドプロ出願」)のメリットとデメリットは以下の通りです。

メリット

マドプロ出願のメリットとしては、現地代理人を介さずに出願から登録手続までを完結できますので、基本的には現地代理人費用が発生しません

但し、いずれかの指定国において拒絶理由が見つかった場合には、その指定国の代理人が応答手続を行わなければならないことになっているため、その時点からの現地代理人費用が発生します。

また、もしも登録する国や商標を使用する対象を増やす可能性があるならば、マドプロ出願には、事後指定(指定国、指定商品・役務の追加)が可能です。但し、指定商品・役務の追加は、国際登録の範囲内でのみ可能です。従って、後に商標を活用する国や対象が増えた場合に対応できるというメリットがあります。

さらに、登録後も更新、各種変更手続きを一括で行うことができます。

デメリット

マドプロ出願の場合、先ず、日本に出願する必要があります。従って、日本での商標権が不要という場合は、日本での出願費用が無駄になってしまいます。

また、基礎出願が登録にならない場合や基礎登録が取消された場合、マドプロ出願・登録も取消されてしまうという不利があります(所謂「セントラルアタック」)。この場合、各国出願への切り替えを行うことができますが、新たに出願費用がかかります。

Q3. マドリッドプロトコルの加盟国は

A3. 現在のところ、日本、米国、EU、ロシア、中国、韓国などを含む86カ国が加盟しています。近年、注目を集めている新興国では、ベトナム、フィリピン、イラン、エジプトなどは加盟していますが、マレーシア、タイ、インド、インドネシア、メキシコ、バングラディシュなどの国は未加盟です(2012年9月現在)。詳しくは、こちらで確認できます。

Q4. 展示会に自社製品を出品するにあたり、新たな商標を使用しようと考えているが、特許出願の場合のように、展示の後に、新たな商標について新規性を喪失せずに出願することはできるのか?

A4. まず、商標に関しては、特許におけるような所謂「新規性」という概念は存在しません。特許、実用新案、意匠等は、新たな技術などを発明、考案又は創作し、その新しい技術などの保護を目的とするものですが、商標権は「選択物」であると言われます。これは、商標権に関しては、既存の言葉などを選択して特定の商品やサービスを特定するために用いる権利であるという考え方に基づきます。

しかし、商標登録出願にも、特許制度などにおける「新規性の喪失の例外」(特許法第30条)の規定に類似の規定は存在します。商標法の第9条(出願時の特例)においては、特定の博覧会において出品・出展した商品やサービスについて使用をした商標について、その出品・出展の日から6ヶ月以内にその商標について出願した場合は、その出品・出展の日が商標登録出願の出願日とみなされます。この際、商標自体並びに商標登録出願の指定商品又は役務は、出品・出展したものと同一にする必要があります。

特許等の場合、新規性の喪失の例外の適用を受ける場合、出願前に公開した技術と出願に係る発明は必ずしも同一である必要はありませんが、商標に関する上記「出願時の特例」については、上記の通り、商標及び指定商品・役務は、出品・出展の時のものと同一であることが要求されます。また、特許などの場合、特許出願の出願日は、出願前の公開の日に遡及することは有りませんが、商標の上記「出願時の特例」においては、出願日は出品・出展した日に遡及します。

また、商標登録出願について「出願時の特例」を受けるためには、その旨を記載した書面を商標登録出願と同時に特許庁に提出し、且つ当該商標登録出願における商標及び指定商品・役務は、出品・出展の時のものと同一であることを証明する書面を商標登録出願の日から30日以内に提出しなければなりません。

尚、商標法第9条(出願時の特例)において定める特定の博覧会は以下のようなものです。

 ①日本政府等が開設する博覧会、
 ②日本政府等以外の者が開設する博覧会であつて特許庁長官の定める基準に適合するもの、
 ③パリ条約の同盟国、世界貿易機関の加盟国若しくは商標法条約の締約国の領域内でその政府等若しくはその許可を受けた者が開設する国際的な博覧会、
 ④パリ条約の同盟国、世界貿易機関の加盟国若しくは商標法条約の締約国のいずれにも該当しない国の領域内でその政府等若しくはその許可を受けた者が開設する国際的な博覧会であつて特許庁長官の定める基準に適合するもの。

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Trademarks

Q1. If a trademark application is to be filed in Japan claiming Convention Priority based on a non-Japanese application, is the priority period one year as in patent applications? 

A1.  No. For filing a trademark application in Japan claiming Convention priority, the priority period is six (6) months, instead of one year, from the filing of the priority application. 

Q2. Are there any specific points to be noted for registering a trademark in Japan?

A2.  Some of the points to be noted for registering a trademark in Japan are as follows.

(1)  Goods and services acceptable in Japan:  In the case of trademark registration in Japan via Madrid protocol, the JPO may object to the indications of goods/services in the International Register as being too vague even if they should be acceptable under the NICE Agreement.  This is because the JPO relies on its own list of goods and services as prescribed in the examination standards.  For example, “Apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water” found in the NICE Classifications is not found acceptable by the JPO, and it should be amended to “Aircraft; automobiles; bicycles; motorcycles; rolling stock for railways; ships”.  The amendment of indications is possible as long as it is within the scope of the original Madrid protocol application. 

(2)  Requirement for use of trademark:  A registrable trademark in Japan is a trademark which is being used or which is intended to be used in the near future.  When the range of the goods and services listed in one class is too broad, the trademark will be rejected because the veracity of use or intention of use of the trademark becomes doubtful.

(3)  Registrable subject matter:  Currently, sounds, smells, colors, textures, tastes and movements are not registerable as trademarks in Japan.  (However, the JPO is planning to submit a bill to revise the trademark law to the Japanese Diet in 2013.  So, registration of the mentioned subjects as trademarks may become possible in the near future.)

Q3. Are there any means to accelerate examination of a trademark application in Japan?

A3. Yes.  A request for accelerated examination can be filed anytime after the filing of your trademark application, and the request should be granted as long as the following condition 1 or 2 is met .

Condition 1 : Actual use of trademark and need for quick registration 

You or your licensee is already using your trademark for the goods or services designated in your application, or are preparing to use the trademark, AND

The trademark rights need to be granted urgently due to any one or more of the following reasons:

   1) A third party is using a trademark which is the same or similar to your trademark without authorization from you or your licensee, in connection with designated goods or services that are the same or similar to the goods and services for which you or your licensee has been using the trademark, or for which you or your licensee has prepared to a considerable degree to use the trademark.

   2) A third party has given a warning with respect to the use of your trademark.

   3) A third party is demanding an agreement to their use of your trademark.

   4) You have also applied for the trademark registration at a Patent Office other than the Japan Patent Office (JPO), or to an intergovernmental organization.

Condition 2:  Use of trademark only for designated goods or services

Your application designates only the goods and services for which you or your licensee is already using the trademark or you or your licensee is preparing to use the trademark.

Q4. What are the documents necessary for filing a request for accelerated examination for a trademark application in Japan? 

A4.  A document entitled "Explanation of the Circumstances Concerning Accelerated Examination” should be filed together with evidence(s) showing that the above-mentioned Condition 1 or 2 is fulfilled by the trademark application. 

Q5. What are the specifics of the individual fee system for a trademark registration via Madrid Protocol designating Japan. 

A5.  The JPO has adopted an individual fee consisting of two parts in accordance with Rule 34(3)(a) of the Common Regulations under the Madrid Protocol.

First part of the individual fee:  This corresponds to an application fee, and is paid at the time of international registration or the subsequent designation. 

Second part of the individual fee:  This corresponds to a registration fee, and is paid within the prescribed period mentioned in the notification issued with the Notice of Grant.  Failure of payment results in cancellation of the designation of Japan in the international registration.

Both fees are to be paid directly to the International Bureau of the WIPO.

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