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Japan's National IP Policies for 2005
掲載紙: Winds from Japan
掲載日: 2006年1月
On June 13, 2005, Japanese government announced its policy statement called Intellectual Property Strategic Program 2005 (IPSP2005). The IPSP2005, while reviewing the implementation of programs launched in the previous year's IPSP, sets forth action plans for implementation in FY2005.
The IPSP scheme started in 2003. Since then, the Japanese government has issued an annual policy each year for the purpose of increasing the creation, protection and enforcement of intellectual properties in Japan. Under this scheme, major reforms have been implemented in a wide variety of fields including the judicial systems and transformations of national universities. As already reported in this newsletter, the Intellectual Property High Court was established as an exclusive appellate court for patent cases and started its operation in April 2005. Regulations against the national universities were significantly lifted. They are now allowed to license their own inventions to private companies.
For this year, the IPSP2005 focuses on such items as: 1) Increased roll and function of universities as a major source of inventions for commercialization; 2) Enhanced and strong protection of intellectual properties; 3) Effective countermeasures against foreign counterfeiting goods; 4) Utilization of intellectual property trust and harmonized international standardization efforts; 5) Support to small & venture companies; 6) Revitalization of local economy through IP-oriented policies; 7) Promotion of content business promotion; 8) Japan brand, and 9) Human education to foster IP experts.
Out of these items, the following discusses details of selected ones which may appear interesting for foreign practitioners.
1) Universities as a major source of inventions (Item 1)
Japanese universities are now free in obtaining patents on and licensing their own inventions. Many of them have their own intellectual property management offices and affiliated licensing offices. To make their roles and functions more effective and efficient, the IPSP2005 calls for governmental support in three areas: IP administration; Dispute resolution; and Licensing Guideline for inventions with public fund.
2) Steps for the World Patent (Item 2)
In this area, the IPSP2005 sets two goals: the World Patent scheme and protection of technical information. Regarding the World Patent, the programs specify 3 steps to go. First, a new system is being introduced for the operation in FY2005, under which the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) will apply to patent applications the same patentability standard as one adopted by US or EC examination. This system, called a “Next Generation Type Dossier Access System”, is applicable to patent applications which have been filed at least in Japan, US and EC. Secondly, a system for collaborate patent examination is under way in these nations. Under this system, overlaps of prior art searches would hopefully be eliminated. Search results and decisions in a first patent office will be applicable to the rest, i.e., second and third patent offices, thus minimizing labor and time per one patent application in these nations. Thirdly, a decision by one of these patent offices to grant a patent will be automatically applied to the other offices.
3) Intellectual Property Trust (Item 4)
A statutory law was recently enacted to enable financing under the arrangement of trust with intellectual property rights. Furtherance to this legislation, the government launches further action plans in order to: a) apply the trust system to other types of rights including a “right to obtain a patent”; b) review statutory provisions on fidelity, thereby to allow a parent company as a trustee to utilize trusted intellectual property; and c) revise relevant provisions on damages, thereby allowing a trustee of a patent right to file a damages claim.
4) Promotion of Content Business (Item 7)
In this context, the IPSP2005 sets three specific targets which require official support by the central government. First one is the establishment of platforms including the refinement of portal site. With the establishment of such infrastructure, copyright clearance process will be simplified and distribution of contents will be enhanced. Second one is the possible amendment of the copyright law. Amendment will need thorough discussion on such major issues as fair use, limitation of digital copyrights, contributory infringement, balance between patentee's interest and public interest. The third target is the promotion of live entertainment which is one of the major components of contents business. As prerequisites, the live entertainment industry has to be rationalized, introducing modernized contractual practice.
5) Promotion of Japan Brand (Item 8)
This theme concerns four specific areas: 1) study on genuine food culture, 2) establishment of local and regional brands, 3) creation of attractive fashion, and 4) transmission of Japan-oriented message overseas.
Among other things, the last item is elaborated on in this issue as it might be of some interest for foreign practitioners. This item is consisted of two action plans: 1) re-valuation of the charm and attractions of Japanese traditional meals, and 2) strategic delivery of Japan-related information overseas. Regarding the first one, the IPSP2005 imposes the responsible governmental departments to study the possibility of serving traditional Japanese meals for official dining banquet.
Regarding the second one, a high-level ministerial meeting will be called for, in which discussion will be conducted concerning what contents shall be transmitted in what manner. Another discussion item will be the necessity of field surveys to rate the level of impression of Japan and Japanese in foreign nations.
For readers' reference, some items contained in the IPSP2005 are repetitious and covered in the previous year's statement, i.e., IPSP2004, which is available in English language. Readers interested are suggested to visit the web site of the Japanese government at:


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