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Japan PM’s Cabinet Recommends Reforms in Intellectual Property Law
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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan reported on March 2 that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Suga had approved various proposals to amend intellectual property laws in Japan. The main aims of the revisions would be to (1) deal with COVID-19 with improved remote and online procedures, (2) revise approaches to support industry’s more digital business practices, and (3) support the overall intellectual property prosecution environment by improving on litigation and cost issues. The Diet needs to hereafter deliberate on these proposals.
Proposed relief dealing with the novel coronavirus include discretionary powers to allow oral proceedings for appeal trials to be held remotely using an Internet conference program; make some notices of Allowances to international applicants available via electronic notification; and exempt applicants who pay the patent or other IP registration fee late due to natural disaster or COVID-19 from having to pay a late filing fee.
For digitization of business, the proposals include removing requirement that a licensee of a patent sign off on a correction to the patent rights; clarifying importation of design or trademark-infringing (pirated) products by foreign entities as punishable under Japanese IP law; and loosening standards of reinstatement of IP filings that miss deadlines.
As for improving IP prosecution environment in Japan, Japanese patent attorneys may be allowed to weigh in more as counsel to courts in patent infringement litigation and give official counsel on Geographic Indications and plant variety registrations in Japan, which now is beyond their scope of authority.
How much of this will pass in the various IP-related laws remains to be seen. Japan’s interesting mixture of advanced technology in an old work environment is evident again in the many ways digital change is yet to take place.
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Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. “「特許法等の一部を改正する法律案」が閣議決定されました [Cabinet approves proposal to revise parts of Patent and other acts].” March 2, 2021. Accessed March 4, 2021.
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