Recent IP activities of Japanese companies

Japan Patent Office (JPO) published an annual report on July 12 2019. According to the report, 313,567 patent applications were filed in Japan in 2018. And, 253,000 patent applications among them were filed by domestic applicants. It slightly decreased than last year.

As you may know, Japanese companies have been reducing investment in Japanese patents. However, my more serious concern is that they have been not increasing investment in patenting in foreign countries either, while increasing foreign sales. The chart shows the transition of foreign patent filing number and the foreign sales of Japanese companies.Foreign Patent Filing

In fact, Japanese companies have not increased investment in intellectual properties, despite the increasing importance of IP being recognized in the world. Under such circumstances, the number of IP professionals in Japan is decreasing as well. This means that many IP departments of Japanese companies may have failed to demonstrate enough existential value of themselves.

This report also shows the utilization of Japanese patents. The utilization ratio in 2017 is 48.4%. This includes licensing to other parties. So, more than half of Japanese patents are not utilized. Also, it states that 37.0% of patents are maintained only for defensive purpose, and they are not used by themselves or other parties. As a result, the remaining 14.5% of patents are maintained for nothing. IP department must be asked for an explanation on that by their higher management sooner or later. Then, such patents may be withdrawn or put in the market.

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