requirement

宣誓供述書の書き方について(1):米国(Part 1)

今回は、米国出願における37 C.F.R. § 1.132に基づくDeclaration又はAffidavit(以下、纏めて「宣誓供述書」と証す)の書式についてご説明します。(宣誓供述書で証明が可能な事項については、こちらで説明しております。)

1.形式的な要件

 宣誓供述書に記載する事項は、以下の通りです。

① 「IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE」と冒頭に記載する。
② 出願を特定する情報(出願人、出願日、出願番号、審査官の氏名など)。
③ 「DECLARATION UNDER 37 C.F.R. 1.132」という表題。
④ 宣誓者(declarant)の情報、具体的には、氏名、住所、最終学歴、職歴(職歴は、宣誓者として相応しいことを示すことができる限り、「~の研究や開発」という程度で構わない)。こちらでも説明しました通り、宣誓者としては、客観性の観点からは発明者以外が好ましいとされていますが、発明者でも支障はありません。
⑤ 宣誓者と本出願との関係。宣誓者が本出願の現状を理解していること。
⑥ 具体的な供述内容。
⑦ 供述内容に虚偽が無いことの宣誓。
⑧ 署名と日付。

2.供述内容

宣誓供述書を提出する状況として最も多いのは、自明性の拒絶を受けて、それに対して予想外の結果(unexpected results)を証明する場合であると思います。その場合の注意事項を以下に挙げます。

当然のことながら、回答の方針を念頭に入れて作成する必要があります。できれば、宣誓供述書を考慮させたただけで、自明性の拒絶理由が撤回されるような内容にすることが望ましいです。

これに関連して、実験報告書の原案を発明者の方が作成し、それを実質的にそのまま翻訳して提出してしまうということが実務上よく行われています。そして発明者の方は、技術の専門家ではありますが特許の専門家ではないために、必ずしも的確とは言えない内容の宣誓供述書になってしまっているというケースを目にすることがあります。その場合、いかに審査官が供述内容を真摯に検討しようとも、拒絶の撤回の根拠とはならないという状況に陥ってしまいます。従って、少なくとも発明と拒絶理由の内容を完全に理解した国内代理人に宣誓供述書の和文ドラフトを作成させて、それを翻訳させることが望ましいと考えます。(弊所では、必ず発明と拒絶の内容を理解した担当者本人が、英語で宣誓供述書を作成します。)

供述内容の決定手順の例を以下に挙げます。

① 現時点(補正後)のクレームの範囲を把握する。

② 先行技術との違いを特定する。

③ 上記の違いによって効果に差が生じるということが明確になるようなデータを取得する(実施例と比較例の結果の相違がこの特徴の違いに起因することが明確になるような条件設定とし、ここで行う比較実験が先行技術の再現実験として認められるような条件を採用しているかなどの点に留意する)。

④ 発明の特徴と効果の因果関係が明確になるようにデータの提示手段を工夫する。

⑤ データの量が不充分とみなされる可能性がある場合、既存のデータに基づいて、その結果がデータ不足分にも適用が可能であることを、合理的に説明する。場合によっては、公知文献に参照する。

⑥ 結論部(Conclusion)において、提示したデータが非自明の根拠として十分であることを簡潔に整理して説明する。

3.具体例

具体的な宣誓供述書の例を下記に示します。(米国出願の中間処理において弊所が実際に提出したものに基づいていますが、固有名詞・用語・数値などは適宜変更してあります。)

[例1]この例は、新たな実験を行うのではなく、明細書の実施例のデータに基づく考察を行って、結論を述べているものです。

供述内容が長くなる場合や、実験証明書を別途添付したい場合には、下記の例のように詳細をExhibit No.(書証番号、日本での甲号証や乙号証に相当)を付した別紙に記載します。

この例では別紙のExhibit 1において実施例のデータに基づく考察を詳しく行い、上記「⑤ 具体的な供述内容」でその内容を要約して述べています。もちろん、新たな実験に基づく宣誓供述書の場合は、別紙のExhibitにおいてその新たな実験の詳細と結果を述べて、上記「⑤ 具体的な供述内容」でその内容を要約して述べます。

宣誓供述書で結論を含む概要を述べ、詳細は別紙のExhibitとすることのメリットとしては、特に供述内容が長かったり複雑である場合に、審査官に先ず宣誓供述書で供述内容の概要を把握させ、その後、別紙のExhibitに記載された詳細により供述内容の合理性を判断させることにより、供述内容を容易且つ確実に理解してもらえるということが挙げられます。

尚、宣誓者(署名する人)の人称ですが、以前は弊所の実務として"he"や"she"などの三人称を使用しておりましたが、米国の代理人より一人称の"I"を使用するようにとのアドバイスを受けて、現在はこれに従っています。

(明細書の実施例のデータに基づく宣誓供述書の書式の1例)

IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

Applicants: Ichiro SUZUKI et al.
Serial No.: XX/XXX,XXX
Filed: June 10 20XX
For: POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE RESIN
Art Unit: 4133
Examiner: Thomas More


DECLARATION UNDER 37 C.F.R. 1.132

I, the undersigned, Ichiro SUZUKI, a Japanese citizen, residing at xxxxx, Akasaka 1-Chome, Minatoku, Tokyo 107-0052 Japan, hereby declare and state that:
I took a master course at the Department of Applied Chemistry, School of Engineering, ABCDE University, and I was graduated therefrom in March 1990.[*博士号取得者の場合: I was graduated in 1985 from the Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, ABCDE University, and took a doctor course in the Graduate School of Engineering, ABCDE University, majoring in applied chemistry, from which I was granted the degree of doctor in 1990.]
I entered FGHIJ Polymer Chemical Co., Ltd. in April 1990.
I have been engaged in the research and development of high performance polyester resins from April 1990 to date.
I am one of the applicants of the above-identified application and I am well familiar with the present case. I have read and understood the Office Action dated October 10, 2007 and the references cited therein.
I carried out Examples 1 to 25 and Comparative Examples 1 to 20 of the present application, and the results are as described on pages 160 to 220 of the specification of the present application.
I have made observations, with reference to Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Examples 1, 4 and 9 of the present application, to show that both of the side reaction index (C) requirement (i.e., less than 0.055) of step (1) and the "molten state" requirement of step (2) of the method of claim 4 of the present application must be satisfied for producing the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application. (Hereinafter, the former requirement is simply referrred to as "side reaction index (C) requirement", and the latter requirement is simply referred to as "molten state requirement".)  The method and results are as described in a paper attached hereto and marked "Exhibit 1".

From the results of Exhibit 1, it can be fairly concluded:
that, as shown in Table A in Exhibit 1, the process employed in each of Examples 1 and 2 satisfies all requirements of claim 4 of the present application, whereas:

each of Comparative Examples 1 and 4 employs a crude PET resin having a C value of 0.082 and, hence, do not satisfy the side reaction index (C) requirement, and 

Comparative Example 9 employs a solid-phase polymerization process and, hence, does not satisfy the molten state requirement

that the results of Examples 1 and 2 (i.e. the properties of the PET resins obtained) are excellent; specifically, the obtained PET resins possess all of the target properties recited in claim 1 of the present application (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that the results of Comparative Examples 1 and 4 are poor in that the PET resins obtained in Comparative Examples 1 and 4, respectively, exhibit cyclic polymer contents (% by weight) of 3.45 and 3.34, which exceed the upper limit (not greater than 3 % by weight) recited in claim 1 of the present application (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that the results of Comparative Example 9 are poor in that the obtained PET resin not only exhibits a molecular weight distribution (Mw/Mn) of 3, which exceeds the upper limit (from 2 to 2.7) recited in claim 1 of the present application, but also exhibits disadvantageously high crystallinity of 55 (which causes high brittleness)  (Table B in Exhibit 1);

that, thus, through a comparison between Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Examples 1 and 4, it is clear that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention cannot be obtained when the crude PET resin used does not satisfy the side reaction index (C) requirement; in other words, the side reaction index (C) requirement is critical for producing the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application;

that, further, through a comparison between Examples 1 and 2 and Comparative Example 9, it is clear that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention cannot be obtained by a solid-phase polymerization process that is a representative conventional process; in other words, the molten state requirement is also critical for producing the excellent polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention;

that Comparative Example 9 also shows that, even in the case where the requirements of step (1) of the method of claim 4 (including the side reaction index (C) requirement) are satisfied, the excellent PET resin of the present invention cannot be obtained when the molten state requirement is not satisfied;

that thus, it is apparent that the polyethylene terephthalate resin of the present invention which possesses all excellent properties recited in claim 1 of the present application can be obtained only when the process employed satisfies both of the side reaction index (C) requirement and the molten state requirement.

The undersigned petitioner declares that all statements made herein of his own knowledge are true and that all statements made on information and belief are believed to be true; and further that these statements were made with the knowledge that willful false statements and the like so made are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code and that such willful false statements may jeopardize the validity of the application or any patent issuing thereon.

Date:

(宣誓者の署名) Ichiro SUZUKI

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米国:AFCP試行プログラム実施期間延長

米国特許商標庁(USPTO)は、特許(Utility Patent)・意匠(Design Patent)出願に対する最後の拒絶理由通知(Final Office Action)後に、審査の再考を促す機会を与えるAfter Final Consideration Pilot(AFCP)プログラムを、2012年3月25日から6月16日までに提出された応答を対象として実施しておりましたが、この試行期間が2012年9月30日まで延長されることとなりました。

現行の規則では最後の拒絶理由通知(Final Office Action)後に提出された補正や証拠を審査官に考慮させるためには、RCE等の手続きが必要になることが多いのですが、AFCP によって、Final後に提出された補正や証拠について、限定的な(特許で約3時間、意匠で約1時間以内で済むような)検討や調査によって、該補正や証拠により特許査定できるとの判断が可能な場合、RCE等を行わずに補正や証拠を審査官に考慮させることが可能になります。

AFCPにより、Final後に可能になる補正や応答は以下のようなものです:

1.  The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by canceling claims or complying with formal requirement(s) in response to objection(s) made in the final office action. (クレームを削除する補正若しくは方式上の拒絶(objection)理由を取り除く補正であって、それにより出願を特許許可できる状態とするもの)

2.  The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by rewriting objected-to claims in independent form. (方式上の拒絶を受けたクレームを独立形式とする補正であって、それにより出願を特許許可できる状態とするもの)

3.  The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by incorporating limitations from objected-to claims into independent claims, if the new claim can be determined to be allowable with only a limited amount of further consideration or search. (方式上の拒絶を受けたクレームの限定を独立クレームに組み込む補正であって、それにより出願を特許許可できる状態とするものであり、且つ限定的な更なる検討または調査によって、その新たなクレームが特許許可できると判断できる場合)

4.  The amendment can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance with only a limited amount of further search or consideration, even if new claims are added without cancelling a corresponding number of finally rejected claims. (新たなクレームを追加し、それに相当する数の最終的に拒絶(reject)されたクレームを削除しないような場合であっても、その補正によって、限定的な更なる検討または調査で出願が特許許可できる状態となると判断できるもの )

(*注: 本来は、MPEP714.13において、Final後は、新たなクレームを追加することはできないと規定されている)

5.  The amendment can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance by adding new limitation(s) which require only a limited amount of further consideration or search. (限定的な更なる検討または調査のみしか必要としない新たな限定を加える補正であって、その補正により出願が特許許可できる状態となると判断できるもの)

6.  The response comprises a perfected 37 CFR 1.131 or 37 CFR 1.132 affidavit or declaration (i.e. a new declaration which corrects formal defects noted in a prior affidavit or declaration) which can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance with only a limited amount of further search or consideration (37 CFR 1.131 又は 37 CFR 1.132の宣誓供述書(Affidavit)又は宣言書(Declaration)の完全版(即ち、以前に提出されたAffidavit又はDeclarationの形式的な欠陥を訂正したもの)を含む応答であって、その応答により出願が特許許可できる状態となると判断できるもの)

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Addition of New Inventor to a Pending Patent Application

Q1. What are the statutory requirements for being named as an inventor in a Japanese application?

A1.  The statutory requirements for being named as an inventor in a Japanese application are the same as the US requirements.  Although an “inventor” is not clearly defined under the Japanese Patent Law, it is understood that an inventor is a person who actually participated in the creation of an invention, and either a mere assistant, an advisor, a person who provided financial support or a person who only gave instructions is not an inventor.

Q2. What are the documents necessary for adding an inventor to a pending Japanese application?

A2.  For adding a new inventor to a patent application, we need to file a Statement executed by the applicant and all inventors (Neither notarization nor legalization of the Statement is required). 

Such a Statement can be prepared at our end and forwarded for execution by the applicant and the inventors. 

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.

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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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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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