In Japan, the term for granted patent is 20 years starting from the date of application filing. The duration can be increased for pharmaceutical products and agricultural chemicals for up to 5 years.
What are the Filing requirements in Japan?
In order to file a patent application, an applicant needs to submit the application form, including a description, claims, drawings (if necessary), and an abstract.
It is important that the application form be written in Japanese, including the name and address that requires to be translated into Japanese katakana characters. Similarly, other elements of the patent application should also be written in Japanese.
However, if the stipulated formal requirements are followed, an applicant can initially submit the description, claims, drawings (if necessary), and an abstract in any language. Under this scenario, it’s required of the applicant to submit the Japanese translations of those documents within one year and four months from the earlier of the two dates. These dates are the filing date or the priority date (in case it is applicable).
If the applicant fails to do so, he/she is notified of that effect and they can submit it within two months from the date of the Japan Patent Office’s (JPO) mailing of the notice. Otherwise, the patent application is deemed to have been withdrawn.
However, there is a condition stipulated as per the JPO – the applicant can submit the translations within two months after the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, if it is done within one year after the two-month period. The applicant needs to submit a Statement of Reasons for restoration highlighting the justifiable reason.
When all requirements are met, “the country’s patent office accords as the filing date of your patent application the date on which it received the application form” unless it falls under the below-mentioned circumstances:
When the application excludes an indication of your intention to obtain a patent;
When the application excludes certain data such as your name as an applicant;
When the application excludes description.
Under these scenarios, the applicant is invited to rectify the application within a specified period.
What is the patent application examination process followed in Japan?
Japan follows a substantive examination method to determine whether an invention is patent-worthy or not. The application is examined after a “Request for Examination” is filed with the JPO. It must be filed within three years of the filing date of the patent application. If it is a PCT application, it must be filed within three years of the international filing date. But keep in mind, it is not the date on which the application entered the national phase in Japan. If the request is not submitted within the stipulated time frame, the application stands withdrawn in Japan.
However, it can be restored if the applicant has a justifiable reason for not submitting the request within the stipulated period. In such a scenario, the applicant can submit the request within two months after the date on which the justifiable reason ceased to exist, as long as this is done within one year from the original deadline. The request must include the statement of reasons for restoration that highlights the justifiable reason.
Can I Convert a patent application into a utility model application?
An applicant can convert a patent application into a utility model application. It is to be done within three months (the time frame is four months for foreign residents) of the date on which a certified copy of an examiner’s refusal decision was given to the applicant. Otherwise, it can be done within nine years and six months of the filing date of the patent application, whichever expires earlier.
If the copy is not transmitted, the conversion can happen anytime between nine years and six months of the filing date of the patent application. Thereafter, the utility model is considered to have been filed on the date on which the original patent application was filed, which then stands withdrawn.