Written

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Program

Q1. Is a prosecution under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program*1 available in Japan?

A1.  Yes.  The PPH programs have been implemented between the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the Patent Offices of the following countries (as of August 2012):  Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, EPO, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

The JPO also implements the PPH MOTTAINAI pilot program*2 with the following countries (as of August 2012):  Australia, Canada, EPO, Finland, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

*1 The PPH program is a framework in which a patent application with claims determined to be patentable by the Office of First Filing is eligible to go through an accelerated examination in the Office(s) of Second Filing, upon the applicant’s request.

*2 The PPH MOTTAINAI pilot program is a PPH program which enables an applicant to make PPH requests at the Office of Later Examination (OLE) by relying on the examination results of the Office of Earlier Examination (OEE), provided that the OEE and OLE have a PPH MOTTAINAI agreement.  In this program, OEE may not be the Office of First Filing, and accelerated examination can be filed based on the examination results of the Office(s) of Second Filing.

Q2. What are the documents necessary for filing a request for an accelerated examination under the PPH program in Japan?

A2.  Documents necessary for filing a request for an accelerated examination under the PPH program in Japan include:

(1)  Request for Accelerated Prosecution under PPH Program;

(2)  Amendment for bringing the Japanese claims in conformity with the claims allowed by the participating patent office other than the JPO (if necessary);

(3)  Table showing the relationship between the (amended) claims of the Japanese application and the allowed claims mentioned in (2);

(4)  All Office Actions issued by the participating patent office (omissible if available via an online file inspection sysmtem provided by the patent office);

(5)  Non-patent documents cited in the Office Action issued by the participating patent office (filing of patent documents is not required);

(6)  Copy of the allowed claims (omissible if available via an online file inspection system provided by the patent office); and

(7)  Japanese or English translations of documents (4) and (6) above when these documents are not in English.

Documents (1) to (3) must be prepared in Japanese.  Although some or all of the information included in items (4), (5) and (6) may be omitted, we usually request the applicant to provide us with such information since it is generally useful for preparing the Japanese language documents (1) to (3).

Q3. Is it possible to request an accelerated examination based on the PCT international work products?

A3.  The JPO has commenced the PPH programs based on the PCT international work products (PCT-PPH) on pilot basis.  According to current schedule (as of August 2012), this program will continue until January 28, 2014.  Participating in PCT-PPH (as of August 2012) are the following 14 countries and organizations: China, Denmark, the EPO, Finland, Iceland, Korea, Mexico, the Nordic Patent Institute, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Under the PCT-PPH programs, an accelerated examination can be requested in Japan using search and examination results (namely, written opinion or international preliminary examination report (IPER)) established by the International Searching Authorities (WO/ISA) or International Preliminary Examining Authorities (WO/IPEA) of the above-mentioned countries or organizations when any one of the examination results indicate that at least one of the claims has novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.

Detailed requirements for filing a request for PCT-PPH may vary depending on which country's ISA or IPEA has carried out search.  Therefore, please let us know if you are interested in PCT-PPH and need more information.

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