Friday, January 09, 2009

JPO Considers Making Software and Business Methods Patentable by 2011

Japanese newspaper Nikkei Shimbun is reporting that the JPO will begin a study in 2009 to "drastically revise" Japanese patent law. The main points of study include:

  • Revising the definition of "invention" that is protected subject matter
  • Making a system for promoting innovation by terminating the "right to seek an injunction"
  • Revising "employee invention provisions"
  • Studying ways to resolve disputes promptly and effectively
  • Speeding up examination and responding to applicants' needs
  • Making the text and provisions easy to understand

The study is scheduled to begin at the end of January, and is expected to last one year. A "Commissioner's Private Study Group" will be formed and will be made up of members from industry, academia, and lawyers. Conclusions from the study will be forwarded to the Industrial Structure Committee for further consideration. If necessary, changes to the law would be implemented in the ordinary session of the Diet in 2010-11.

From the Nikkei Shimbun article:

The current Patent Law went into effect in 1980, and defines the “things” that as inventions can be protected by patents. Although there are cases where things like business model patents have been considered to fall within “things” and thus protected, this revision will, once enacted, for the first time clearly establish that intangible property is protected subject matter.

A representative example of the kind of intangible assets that may become protected subject matter is software. Things like the computer algorithms needed in software architecture were not anticipated in the current Patent Law, and thus there is concern that their protection might not be totally certain.

Special thanks to Greg Aharonian who forwarded this information, and Edward Durney for providing the translation. A copy of the (translated) article can be viewed here.

-- On a somewhat related note, the JPO recently announced that the first patent under the "Super Accelerated Examination" issued. Time of pendency from the examination request? 17 days.

3 Comentários:

Duncan Williams said...

Now 17 days to have an application issued is much faster than the average wait time of 5-6 years. Japan has the most costly maintenance fees for patents in the entire world, so speeding up the application process is a must for the JPO.

Anonymous said...

I could do ya one in a day, but it'll cost ya ;)

Look on the bright side, we would eliminate the portion of "hindsight bias" that results from examiners reading art that isn't technically prior art, but gleaning motivations etc from there, nearly completely.

I do hope the JPO does not revise its laws with respect to biz methods and software. Doing so is ludicrous.


Anonymous said...

Concerning the JPO I hav ealways found it difficult to find information about what is going on with an application.

As being a European I am used to be able to follow the development of a patent application at the EPO, for exemple via EPO’s Register Plus ( , shows all the correspondence between the applicant and the EPO, changes in the text etc.). It is very useful if one wants to keep an eye at the competitors for instance.

Does anyone know if there is a way to find the same information at cases with the JPO?

Thanks in advance

Olle Bäcklund

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