Require preliminary patent numbers

FAQ - Japan

As a foreign applicant, do I have to appoint a professional representative in Japan?

Yes. If you are not headquartered or resident in Japan, you will need to appoint a JPO professional to represent you.

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In what language can I file patent applications in Japan?

Since July 1, 1995, it has been possible to file patent applications in English. A Japanese translation must be filed with the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) within 14 months of the filing date (prior to April 2007, the time limit was two months).

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Can I claim priority from an application filed in Japan?

Yes. According to the Paris Convention, the priority period is 12 months from the date of the earliest claimed priority. Japan has been a signatory to the Paris Convention since July 15, 1899.

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What can I do to get an early filing date in Japan?

Provisional applications cannot (yet) be submitted in Japan. You must therefore submit a complete application in order to be granted a filing date.

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Does Japan allow divisional applications?

Yes. If you have multiple inventions in your application, you can split them into two or more applications in Japan. However, the scope of protection of the descriptions and drawings of the divisional applications must not go beyond that in the original application.

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Are Japanese patents and utility models subject to substantive examination?

In addition to a prior art search, Japanese patents are also examined for novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. In the case of utility models, only a preliminary test is carried out (it is checked whether they meet the formal requirements).

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After filing an application in Japan, how long do I have to file the request for examination?

You should submit the request for examination within three years of the filing date or (for PCT applications) the international filing date. An accelerated examination can be requested under certain circumstances.

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Can I request that my application be published in Japan within 18 months of the filing date (or the earliest priority date)?

An amendment to the Japanese Patent Law in 1999, which came into effect on January 1, 2000, introduced an "early publication" system in Japan. Since then, an applicant can request that his patent application be opened for public inspection within 18 months of the filing date (or, if an internal priority is claimed, within 18 months of the earliest priority date). Early publication may be of interest if it is a question of temporary protection or claims for compensation against third parties due to acts of infringement.

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Can I file third party objections to a Japanese patent application?

Yes. According to Article 13bis of the Implementing Regulations of the Japanese Patent Law, anyone can submit related information at any time after filing a patent or utility model application, or after a patent or utility model has been granted.

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When is the first official notification usually issued in Japan?

According to the JPO's 2015 annual report, the average duration from the request for examination to the first official notification is currently 9.5 months (2014: 9.6 months, 2013: 14.1 months).

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How long is the deadline in Japan to respond to official notices?

In Japan, there is a period of three months for replies to official notices (this does not apply to notices that only relate to formal requirements). An extension of three months can also be requested. The same time limit applies to replies in opposition proceedings or in court proceedings.

In the case of official notices relating to formal requirements, the deadline for submitting a response is 30 days (and cannot be extended).

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Can I apply for a patent and a utility model at the same time in Japan?

No, this is not possible in Japan.

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Can Japanese utility models be converted into patents?

Yes. The application for a utility model can be converted into a patent application within three years of the filing date.

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