parts

米国(1)

Q. 米国における"utility patent"とはどのようなものか?

A. 米国特許には、実用特許(utility patent)、意匠特許(design patent)、植物特許(plant patent)の3種類があり、実用特許(utility patent)は、日本などにおける通常の特許に対応します。米国における"utility patent"を、日本における「実用新案」に対応するものと誤解されることが多いようですが、実用新案を表す英語は"utility model"です。

Q. 米国における「仮出願」とはどのようなものか?

A. 文字通り、優先権を確保するという目的のためだけの「仮の出願」(provisional application)です。通常の出願と異なり、要求事項が非常に少ないのが特徴です。主な特徴は以下の通りです。

- 出願言語は問われず日本語など英語以外の言語でも出願可。

- 通常の出願に要求されるような明細書の体裁は不要(クレームも不要、手書き図面もOK)1)

- 仮出願に対して審査が行われることは無く、出願日から12カ月以内に仮出願に基づく優先権主張をして通常の特許出願(non-provisional application)をしないと、その仮出願は自動的に放棄される。

- 通常の特許出願に移行した場合に限り、仮出願の出願日が、米国特許法第102条(a)項(2)号(旧法の102条(e)に対応)における「先願」としての基準日、即ち、後願排除の有効日となる2)

- 日本や欧州など殆どの国において、米国の仮出願に基づくパリ条約優先権主張が認められる3)

- 出願料は250ドル(約2万円)。

2011年の法改正(Leahy-Smith America Invents Act,AIA)によって米国は先発明主義から先願主義に移行しますが、それに伴って仮出願制度の重要性が増すであろうと言われております。

注:

1) 但し、仮出願の明細書に、発明が理解でき且つ実施可能な程度に記載されていなければなりません。即ち、記載要件と実施可能要件(明細書の記載に関する特許法112条第一パラグラフ)を満たす書類を提出する必要があります。といっても、上記のように、仮出願には通常の出願に要求されるような明細書の体裁は不要ですので、何らかの形で発明が十分に開示されていれば、仮出願に基づく優先権は通常認められます。例えば、仮出願において、説明を書き加えた図面を提出し、それを優先権の根拠とすることもできます。

また、英語以外の言語で仮出願した場合には、仮出願もしくは本出願において、仮出願の翻訳文を提出しなければ、仮出願の出願日への遡及を享受することができません。

2) 要するに、適正に本出願に移行した場合、仮出願は、その出願日以降に出願された第三者の出願に対して、102条の新規性及び/又は103条の自明性に関する先行技術となり得ます(Giacomini判決を参照;また、上記判決で言及されるAlexander Milburn Co. v Davis-Bournonville Co.を参照)。

なお、米国特許法第102条(a)項(2)号における「先願」としての基準日、即ち、後願排除の有効日については、こちらで詳しく述べましたように、2011年の改正法(AIA)により、旧法の102条(e)における所謂「ヒルマードクトリン(Hilmer Doctrine)」が廃止されました。これにより、米国以外の第一国出願の出願日も後願排除目的に有効な出願日(effective filing date)として認められることになりましたので、パリ条約に基づく優先日が後願排除の有効日とみなされることになり、また、PCT出願は(その出願言語に関わらず)、優先権主張していれば優先日、優先権主張していなければ国際出願日が、後願排除の有効日とみなされることになります。

3) 米国の仮出願に基づくパリ優先権を主張して、米国外に出願することも可能です。しかし、その様な場合、米国外の出願が、米国の仮出願にサポートされているか否か(優先権主張の有効性が認められるか否か)の判断は、その国の法律・規則に基づいて判断されます。この点、特に欧州は、欧州出願の発明が、基礎出願明細書から直接的且つ一義的に導き出せるものである場合にのみ優先権主張の有効性が認められますので、米国では優先権の有効性が認められるようなケースでも、欧州では認められないということが起こりえます。例えば、米国においては、上記の通り、図面に基づくサポートにも寛容であり、多くの場合認められますが、欧州においては、図面のみをサポートとして主張しても、認められない傾向があります。

Q. 出願明細書には必ず実施例を記載する必要があるのか

A. 当業者が過度の実験なしに発明を実施できるように記載されていれば、明細書に実施例を記載する必要は有りません[In re Borkowski, 422 F.2d 904, 908, 164 USPQ 642, 645 (CCPA 1970)]。

Q. 日本における特許出願の場合は、請求項が発明の詳細な説明によりサポートされていなければならないと規定されている(特許法第36条6項1号)が、米国の場合も同様の規定があるか

A. 米国の審査基準(MPEP)にも、日本特許法第36条6項1号の規定に相当する規定が有ります。即ち、MPEP § 608.01(g)及び608.01(o)には以下の規定が有ります。

608.01(g)   Detailed Description of Invention

A detailed description of the invention and drawings follows the general statement of invention and brief description of the drawings. ・・・・・ Every feature specified in the claims must be illustrated, but there should be no superfluous illustrations. 

608.01(o)   Basis for Claim Terminology in Description

The meaning of every term used in any of the claims should be apparent from the descriptive portion of the specification with clear disclosure as to its import; and in mechanical cases, it should be identified in the descriptive portion of the specification by reference to the drawing, designating the part or parts therein to which the term applies. ・・・・・The specification should be objected to if it does not provide proper antecedent basis for the claims by using form paragraph7.44.

上記608.01(g)においては、クレームに記載された全ての特徴について、明細書本文に説明がなければならないと規定されています。但し、当業者には自明の周知事項まで明細書に説明する必要はありません。

上記608.01(o)には、クレームについて明細書本文にも適切な開示が無い場合には、拒絶される旨規定されています。

従って、米国においても日本と同様に、クレームが明細書本文の記載にサポートされていることが要求されると考えます。

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《論文》

(和英)

原文:

特に現在の主流であるモノコック構造で車体本体には影響が無いフロントフェンダーの樹脂化 を中心に検討と採用が行われている。 但しコストについては、車両の製造から出荷そしてリサ イクルに至るまでトータルに考える必要がある。例えば製品設計の段階で部品の統合化、組み 立てラインのレイアウト、部品の輸送コスト、設計の複雑さ(設計のデザインによっては鉄の方 がコスト高になり、樹脂を使用すれば設計上の自由度が高い)、車両購入者に対して付加価値と なると思われる損傷性の向上、修理コスト及び車両保険コストの削減などが考えられる。

英訳文:

Especially, the application of a resin as a substitute raw material is considered or has been put into practice mainly in the production of front fenders which have no influence on the strength of automobile bodies having a currently predominant monocoque structure.  However, as far as the production cost is concerned, the entire process form the production and shipment of automobiles through the recycling should be comprehensively taken into consideration.  For example, considerations should be given to: the unification of parts at the design stage; the layout of assembly lines; the transportaion costs for parts; the complexity in design (the use of steel may result in a higher cost depending on the design, while the use of a resin increases freedom of design); and the damage resistance of an automobile, and the reduction in repair cost and physical damage cover, which would be perceived as added values by consumers.

Design Registration

Q1. If a design 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 design applications in Japan claiming Convention priority, the priority period is for six (6) months, instead of one year, from the filing of the priority application.  Even if you have a design "patent" application filed at the USPTO, the priority period is 6 months for filing a Japanese patent application with a valid priority claim based on the degisn "patent" application filed in the US.  

You also have to be careful when filing a patent application in Japan claiming priority from both a patent application and a design application.  That is, for example, if you filed in your country a patent application on May 1, 2012 and a design application on October 30, 2012 and are now considering filing a patent application on May 1, 2013 in Japan claiming priority from both of the above-mentioned patent application and design application filed in your country, this date “May 1, 2013” is within one-year priority period based on the patent application but is after the expiration of six-month priority period (October 30, 2012 + 6 months = April 40, 2013) based on the design application.  Therefore, the priority claim based on the design application is not valid.  

Q2. I am planning to file a design patent application in Japan claiming priority from a US design patent application.  What are the major differences in practice between the United States and Japan that require particular attention?

A2.  Firstly, unlike the “design patent” in the United States which is one type of patents and is basically dealt with under the patent law, Japan has a design law separate from a patent law. 

Therefore, in Japan, an application for registration of a design is referred to as “design application”, not “design patent application” as in the United States.  

More importantly, this difference in legal system leads to some significant differences in design registration practice between the US and Japan representative examples of which are enumerated below.

Difference 1)  “Single design per application” system in Japan

It is understood that the US system allows an applicant to pursue two or more designs (embodiments) of a single inventive concept in a single design patent application.  This, however, is not the case in Japan.  According to the Japanese practice, each design application may include only a single design of single shape.

Therefore, in Japan, when a single priority application includes multiple designs, it is necessary to either:

-  file separate design applications with respect to the different designs, or

-  file an application including different designs and later file a divisional application(s).

In this connection, however, it should be noted that it is not allowed to file a divisional application on a “partial” design from a “whole” design application and vice versa.  Concerning the “partial” and “whole” designs, explanations are made below.

Further, there is an exception to the "single design per application" system, and the Japan's Design Law provides "related design" system for covering a plurality of similar designs.

1-1) Exception to the “single design per application” rule

The Japan’s Design Law exceptionally allows for discrete objects to be claimed in a single application if common sense indicates that such discrete objects are usually sold as a “set”, as in the case of, for example, a 3-piece set including a knife, fork and spoon. 

1-2) Related design applications

In the case where the priority US application contains a plurality of different but similar designs (e.g., minor variations of a certain design), such similar designs may be covered by utilizing the related design system in Japan.  Specifically, the similar designs can be covered by filing a principal design application and filing a related design application(s) by one day prior to the publication of the principal design. 

The design registered as the related design can be enforced independently of the registered principal design and other registered related design(s).  That is, a related design right can cover even a design similar to that related design, which, however, is not similar to the principal design. 

For covering such similar designs under the related design regime, it is possible to either:

-  file a principal design application and also file a related design application(s) simultaneously with the principal application or later (by one day prior to the publication of the principal design at the latest), or

-  file general design applications on the similar designs, and later amend the general applications into a principal design application and a related design application(s).

The JPO may find that the designs are not similar enough to be eligible for registration under the related design regime but there is no need to be so nervous about this point.  If the JPO denies the similarity, the JPO will issue an office action requesting the applicant to stop relying on the related design system and change the applications to normal applications.

 

Finally, the right of a registered related design is independent from the right of a registered principal design but there are the following exceptions.

1.   Synchronized protection term: 

The protection term for both of a registered principal design and a registered related design is 20 years from the registration date of the principal design.  This point, however, is substantially immaterial in the present case because the two applications will probably be registered almost simultaneously.  Further, the registered related design can be maintained even if the principal design is allowed to lapse due to non-payment of maintenance fee, and vice versa.   

 2.   Restriction of transfer of rights and licensing: 

The right of a registered related design cannot be transferred or licensed independently from the registered principal design.  That is, for transfer of design rights to a third party by assignment etc., the principal and related designs must be simultaneously transferred together to the same entity.  Further, also for licensing, the principal and related designs must be licensed simultaneously to the same entity.

 

Difference 2)  Partial Design System

The Japan’s Design Law has a “partial design system” which allows registration of parts of shapes or forms with distinct characteristics.  

The US system also provides a similar practice where dotted lines can be used to indicate non-claimed parts.  There is, however, one important difference.  That is, the Japan’s system requires that a partial design application should be filed with a clear indication that the application claims a partial design.  In the absence of such indication, the application will be recognized as claiming a whole design. 

Once filed with the indication of a partial design application, it is in principle not allowed to amend the application into a whole design application and vice versa.  Similarly, a divisional application on a partial design cannot be filed from a whole design application and vice versa. 

Therefore, if it is important to cover both of whole and partial designs, it is recommended to file both a whole design application and a partial design application.

 

Of course, there are many other differences between US and Japanese practices; however, the above differences are believed to be the main differences which require particular attention when filing a design application in Japan claiminig priority from a US design patent application.

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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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