IPBC Japan 2018 began with a keynote speech by Naoko Munakata, commissioner of the Japan Patent Office (JPO), in Tokyo on September 13. Munakata introduced the recent measures taken by the JPO, such as;
- SEP licensing negotiation guide
- Startup support system (Fast track examination, Dispatch of experts for IP advice, financing, and business)
- Collection of patent examination cases in the field of artificial intelligence (AI)
In addition, Munakata said that the JPO is considering measures to improve attractiveness of intellectual property litigation system, especially from the following two aspects;
- Improvement of evidence collection procedures for IP right holders to collect all the necessary information to prove infringement and calculate damages
- Review of damage calculation method
This is accounted for by a sense of crisis that the value of Japanese patents has become relatively lower. While every country increases patent applications, Japan has been on a downward trend. The document entitled “Problems faced by Patent Administration” published by the JPO in June 2018 includes a chart which evidently shows that overseas companies have reduced patent applications to Japan.
The chart compares the number and ratio of patent applications filed to Japan by US, Korean, and German companies, respectively compared between a period of 2002-2006 and 2012-2016. The JPO studies all the patent applications which are filed both to US and Europe. The yellow bar in the chart indicates the number and ratio of patent applications whose counterparts were not filed to Japan, while the blue bar indicates those whose counterparts were filed to Japan. They obviously reduced patent application filings to Japan.
This document also includes the survey result which shows that Japan was not selected at all (0%) as a country which is worth filing a lawsuit even at great cost, which was reported by IAM Magazine issue 84, the article “The year America fought back”.
Munakata says “the important thing is to establish a mindset whereby rights holders do not simply give up in frustration and technology users do not feel inclined to infringe patent rights because they know that there is no benefit in it.” Also, she says that the JPO will engage in intensive discussions with users to identify the right system for Japan.
I’m not sure what “the right system for Japan” is like. Startups or SMEs must have different positions from large enterprises. Anyway, we should head in the direction in which excellent ideas and those inventors are appreciated and bear fruit. Or excellent persons and startups will move their bases overseas, not staying in Japan where they cannot protect their businesses.