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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.

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Attorney/Recommendations

Patent Attorney

Name:  Junzo WATANABE

Registration No.:  11683 (registered in 2000)

Education:   

  Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Kumamoto University

  Department of Law, Faculty of Law, Chuo University

Recommendations

■1) Nobuatsu Watanabe [Title: Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University, Doctor of Engineering; Award: The Chemical Society Japan Award (1980), Purple Ribbon Medal (Shijuhosho) (1987), etc.]

Mr. Inoue, the Senior Partner, is my former student. He has both excellent linguistic ability and excellent expertise. The staff of Inoue & Associates are well-trained by Mr. Inoue, and the high quality services provided by Mr. Inoue and his staff are self-explanatory from the documents made by them. From my experience, I firmly believe that they will help you to promptly and surely acquire intellectual property rights, based on adequate judgment made by fully utilizing their professional skills in combination with their rich experience in pursuit of patent rights in many countries for many years.

■2) Hidefumi Hirai [Title: Professor Emeritus of The University of Tokyo, Doctor of Engineering; Award: The Chemical Society Japan Award (1984), etc.]

Mr. Inoue, the Senior Partner, and his staff are familiar with foreign patent laws and patent practices. Further, the quality of their services based on accurate understanding of technical background and excellent linguistic ability is prominent in this business. In addition, Mr. Inoue already has his appropriate successor and I, therefore, trust Inoue & Associates for their excellent procedures of filing patent applications through reliable prosecutions for grant of patents.

米国での審査における実施可能性、新規性、非自明性の判断基準について

米国での審査通知への回答書において米国代理人が米国審査基準(MPEP)に参照して実施可能性・新規性・非自明性の法律的基準について述べた説明で、原則的な部分を理解する上で参考になるものがありましたので、多少補足を加えた上で、以下に紹介します。参考までに、英語と日本語訳文の両方を併記します。

Legal Standard for Enablement(実施可能性の法律的基準について)

The Federal Circuit has repeatedly held that "the specification must teach those skilled in the art how to make and use the full scope of the claimed invention without 'undue experimentation'." In re Wright, 999 F.2d 1557, 1561, 27 USPQ2d 1510, 1513 (Fed. Cir. 1993).(連邦巡回裁判所はたびたび、以下の趣旨の判断を示してきた:「明細書は、当業者が『過度な実験』を行なうことなく本発明の全範囲を実現して使用するための方法を教示しなければならない」)

Nevertheless, not everything necessary to practice the invention need be disclosed. In fact, what is well-known is best omitted. In re Buchner, 929 F.2d 660, 661, 18 USPQ2d 1331, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 1991).(しかし、発明の実施に必要な全てを開示する必要はない。実際、周知のものは省略しても構わない。)

All that is necessary is that one skilled in the art be able to practice the claimed invention, given the level of knowledge and skill in the art. Further the scope of enablement must only bear a "reasonable correlation" to the scope of the claims. See, e.g., In re Fisher, 427 F.2d 833, 839, 166 USPQ 18, 24 (CCPA 1970).(必要なことは、当業界の知識と技術の水準に鑑みて、クレームされた発明を当業者が実施できるように記載されていることだけである。)

As concerns the breadth of a claim relevant to enablement, the only relevant concern should be whether the scope of enablement provided to one skilled in the art by the disclosure is commensurate with the scope of protection sought by the claims. In re Moore, 439 F.2d 1232, 1236, 169 USPQ 236, 239 (CCPA 1971).(実施可能性との関連におけるクレームの広さについては、明細書の開示により当業者に提供された実施可能性と、クレームが要求する保護の範囲とが一致していさえすればよい。) How a teaching is set forth, by specific example or broad terminology, is not important. In re Marzocchi, 439 F.2d 220, 223-24 169 USPQ 367, 370 (CCPA 1971).(教示の記載の仕方については、どのように記載されていても構わず、具体的実施態様による記載でもよいし、広い用語による記載でもよい。)

Legal Standard for Determining Anticipation(新規性判断の法律的基準について)

"A claim is anticipated only if each and every element as set forth in the claim is found, either expressly or inherently described, in a single prior art reference." Verdegaal Bros. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 814 F.2d 628, 631, 2 USPQ2d 1051, 1053 (Fed. Cir. 1987).(クレームに記載される全ての要素が明示的または潜在的に単一の先行技術文献に記載されている場合にのみ、クレームの新規性が欠如する。)

"When a claim covers several structures or compositions, either generically or as alternatives, the claim is deemed anticipated if any of the structures or compositions within the scope of the claim is known in the prior art." Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1351, 60 USPQ2d 1375, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (クレームが複数の構造や組成物を含む場合には、複数の構造または複数の組成物のいずれか1でも先行技術文献に記載されているならば、クレームの新規性が欠如する。)

"The identical invention must be shown in as complete detail as is contained in the ... claim." Richardson v. Suzuki Motor Co., 868 F.2d 1226, 1236, 9 USPQ2d 1913, 1920 (Fed. Cir. 1989).(クレームされるものと詳細まで完全に一致する発明が示されていることが必要である)

The elements must be arranged as required by the claim, but this is not an ipsissimis verbis test, i.e., identity of terminology is not required. In re Bond, 910 F.2d 831, 15 USPQ2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1990).(クレームが要求する通りに要素が配置されていることが必要であるが、用語が同一である必要はない。)

Legal Standard for Prima Facie Obviousness (一応の自明性の判断の法律的基準について)

MPEP § 2141 sets forth the guidelines in determining obviousness. First, the Examiner has to take into account the factual inquiries set forth in Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), which has provided the controlling framework for an obviousness analysis.(MPEP § 2141には、自明性を判断するガイドラインが示されている。審査官は、まず、グラハム事件で採用された事実認定基準(いわゆる、Grahamテスト)を考慮しなければならない。) The four Graham factors are(4つのGrahamテストは以下の通りである):

(a) determining the scope and contents of the prior art(先行技術の範囲と内容を決定すること);

(b) ascertaining the differences between the prior art and the claims in issue(先行技術と当該クレームとの差を明確にすること);

(c) resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art(当業者の技術水準を確定すること); and

(d) evaluating any evidence of secondary considerations(二次的考慮事項の証拠を評価すること). Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17, 148 USPQ 459, 467 (1966).

Second, the Examiner has to provide some rationale for determining obviousness.(次に審査官は、自明性を支持するための何らかの論理付けを提示することが必要である。) MPEP § 2143 sets forth some rationales that were established in the recent decision of KSR International Co. v Teleflex Inc., 82 USPQ2d 1385 (U.S. 2007)(MPEP § 2143には、KSR事件で確立された論理付けが示されている。). Exemplary rationales that may support a conclusion of obviousness include(自明性を支持するための典型的な論理付けは以下の通りである。):

(a) combining prior art elements according to known methods to yield predictable results(先行技術の要素を公知の方法で組み合わせて予想可能な結果を得ること);

(b) simple substitution of one known element for another to obtain predictable results(ある公知の要素を他の要素で単純に置換して予想可能な結果を得ること);

(c) use of known technique to improve similar devices (methods, or products) in the same way(公知技術を用いて類似の装置(方法や製品)を同様に改善すること);

(d) applying a known technique to a known device (method, or product) ready for improvement to yield predictable results(改善可能な状態にある公知の装置(方法や製品)に公知技術を適用して予想可能な結果を得ること);

(e) "obvious to try" - choosing from a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, with a reasonable expectation of success(「試みることが自明」-成功するという合理的な期待を持って、特定された予測可能な有限個の解決方法から選択すること);

(f) known work in one field of endeavor may prompt variations of it for use in either the same field or a different one based on design incentives or other market forces if the variations are predictable to one of ordinary skill in the art(ある技術分野において公知のものは、設計上の動機やその他の市場の力に基づいて、同じ技術分野や異なる技術分野で使用するためのバリエーションが当業者によって予測可能であれば、そのようなバリエーションを促すかもしれない。); and

(g) some teaching, suggestion, or motivation in the prior art that would have led one of ordinary skill to modify the prior art reference or to combine prior art reference teachings to arrive at the claimed invention.(先行技術文献を改変したり先行技術文献の教示を組み合わせてクレームされた発明に到達するように当業者を導いたであろう、先行技術における教示、示唆または動機。)

As the MPEP directs, all claim limitations must be considered in view of the cited prior art in order to establish a prima facie case of obviousness. See MPEP § 2143.03.(MPEPが示すように、一応の自明性を確立するためには、引用例に鑑みてクレームの全ての限定事項を考慮する必要がある。)

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Change of Applicant of a Pending Patent Application

Q1. What are the documents necessary for changing the applicant of a pending Japanese application?

A1.  For recordal of a new applicant at the Japan Patent Office, we need an Assignment from the original applicant (assignor) to assign a part or whole of the right to obtain patent to the new applicant (assignee).  Specifically, the following documents must be filed with the Japan Patent Office:

   (1) An executed assignment simply signed by both parties (the assignor and the assignee), in which the full names and titles of the representatives of the assignor and the assignee should be clearly indicated.

   (2) A power of attorney executed by the assignee.

Neither notarization nor legalization of documents (1) and (2) are required.  These documents may be prepared at our end and forwarded for execution by the assignor and the assignee.

Q2. Does the Japan Patent Office issue an official certificate for the recordal of a new applicant?

A2.  No certificate is issued by the Japan Patent Office.  Recordal of a new applicant can be confirmed by checking the patent database.

Restriction to Permissible Claim Amendments after Final Rejection

Q. We understand that permissible claim amendments are restricted after the issuance of a final rejection.  Please explain about the restriction.

A.  Permissible claim amendments are restricted after the issuance of not only the Final Notice of Rejection, but also after the Decision for Rejection.  Further, this restriction applies to a divisional application filed from a parent application filed on or after April 1, 2007 and containing claims which can be rejected on the same ground as the parent application. 

The permissible amendments are (i) deletion of a claim(s), (ii) amendment for limiting the scope of the invention without increasing the number of claims, (iii) amendments for removing clerical errors, and (iv) amendments for clarifying an unclear expression.  Other claim amendments are not permissible at this stage.  For example, the following amendments are not permissible even when the claims are fully supported by the specification as filed:

   (a) Addition of a new claim directed to a subject matter not described in the claims;

   (b)  Addition of a new subclaim for limiting the scope of an independent claim; and

   (c)  Amendment for changing the category of a claim (such as, changing a product-by-process claim into a process claim).

Addition of a new subclaim is permissible when the amendment is made for clarifying an unclear expression.  For example, when there is a claim reading “A composition containing X, preferably Y”, amending this claim to “A composition containing X” and adding a subclaim reading “Composition according to claim N, wherein said X is Y” will be permissible.


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