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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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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当事者系レビュー(Inter partes review);

付与後異議申立(Post grant review);及び

ビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム(Transitional program for covered business method patents)。


- 77 Fed. Reg. 48,612 (“Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Judicial Review of Patent Trial and Appeal Board Decisions”)

- 77 Fed. Reg. 48680 (“Changes to Implement Inter Partes Review Proceedings, Post-Grant Review Proceedings, and Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents”)

- 77 Fed. Reg. 48734 (“Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents—Definitions of Covered Business Method Patent and Technological Invention”)

- 77 Fed. Reg. 48756 (“Office Patent Trial Practice Guide”)



当事者系レビュー(Inter partes review

これは従来の当事者系再審査(Inter Partes Reexamination)に代わる手続。

当事者系レビューは、特許付与後9ヶ月以降又は付与後異議申立手続き(Post-grant Review)の終了時のいずれか遅い方から、特許存続期間中であれば申請可能。この申請可能時期と、申請理由が先行技術に基づく新規性違反(102条)、自明(103条)のみに制限されること以外は、当事者系レビュー(Inter Partes Review)のルールは、付与後異議申立て(Post-grant Review)と類似。

当事者系レビュー(Inter Partes Review)を申請した場合、米国特許庁に申請が受理されて再審査が開始されるための基準は、再審査請求対象のクレームのうち、少なくとも1つが無効であることが合理的に見込めるかreasonable likelihood that the petitioner would prevail with respect to at least 1 of the claims challenged)ということである。


付与後異議申立(Post grant review)



- 異議申立て申請書が、特許の少なくとも1つのクレームが無効である可能性が有効である可能性よりも高いことを示していると認められる場合(the petition demonstrates that it is “more likely than not” that at least one claim of the challenged patent is unpatentable.)

- 他の特許や特許出願にも重要な影響を及ぼす新規又は未解決の法的問題を提起する場合(the petition “raises a novel or unsettled legal question that is important to other patents or patent applications.”)


ビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム(Transitional program for covered business method patents)

新法(AIA)では、ビジネス方法特許に対して第三者が付与後異議申立をできることとなったが、この異議申立手続は「対象となるビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム(Transitional program for covered business method patents)」として施行さる。この手続は、その名の通り、2020年9月16日までの暫定的なもの。

最終規則 77 Fed. Reg. 48734 (August 14, 2012)では対象となる発明が次の様に定義されている:「金融商品やサービスの実施、運営または管理に用いられる、データ処理その他の操作を行うための方法若しくは対応する装置を請求する特許であって、技術的発明に関する特許は含まない」。ここで、対象に含まれない「技術的発明」については、「請求された主題が、全体として先行技術に対して新規且つ非自明の技術的特徴であり、技術的解決手段をもって技術的課題を解決する」発明とされているが、詳細な定義は示されておらず、ケース・バイ・ケースで判断される。


1) 異議申立を申請できる者: 通常の付与後異議申立においては、特許権者以外誰でも申請できるが、「ビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム」においては、申請できるのは侵害を訴えられているなど特定の要件を満たす利害関係者のみ。

2) エストッペル(禁反言): 通常の付与後異議申立手続では、そこで実際に提示した根拠や提示できたはずと合理的に判断できる根拠に基づく主張については、エストッペル(禁反言)によって後の訴訟などの手続きで同様の主張をすることは禁止されるが、「ビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム」においては、エストッペルの対象となるのは、実際に異議申立で主張した根拠のみ。

3) 申請時期: 通常の付与後異議申立手続では、許可後9ヶ月以内に申請する必要があるが、「ビジネス方法特許のための暫定プログラム」は、許可になった後、何時でも申請することができる。

補充審査(Supplemental examination)

補充審査(Supplemental examination)に関する最終規則は、77 Fed. Reg. 48828 (August 14, 2012)として公開されました。具体的な施行規則は以下からご覧頂けます。



情報開示義務違反(Inequitable Conduct)回避のための新たな手続きとして注目されている補充(補足)審査(Supplemental Examination)制度ですが、こちらも非常に高額な費用設定となっています。具体的には、補充審査(Supplemental Examination)請求時に米国特許庁に対して支払う手数料は、$21,260 [*内訳: 補充審査(Supplemental Examination)請求 $5,140 + 査定系再審査(ex parte reexamination)請求 $16,120]であり、査定系再審査が不要となった際("substantial new question of patentability"が無いと判断された場合)には、査定系再審査(ex parte reexamination)費用$16,120が払い戻されるということになっています。尚、こちらについても、2012年9月6日に、これを約15%程度低減する案が公表されています。

発明者の宣誓書、宣言書(Inventor's oath or declaration)

発明者の宣誓書、宣言書に関するプラクティスが大きく変わります。これについての最終規則は、77 Fed. Reg. 48776 (August 14, 2012)として公開されました。







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