Japanese Patent

(1) Requirement for Patentability

1. Industrial applicability

An invention to be patented should be industrially applicable because an invention merely applicable academically or experimentally is not reasonable to be protected. Industry in the patent act means industry in a broad sense that contains not only productive industry like manufacturing industry, mining industry, and agriculture, but also industry without production like service industry, and traffic.

2. Novelty

An invention to be patented should be unconventional and new (having novelty) because the patent system grants a patent right in compensation for disclosing the novel invention. An invention which does not have novelty is provided as follows
 (1) Inventions that were publicly known in Japan or a foreign country, prior to the filing of the patent application. Example: Presentation by a television, or in a conference, etc.
 (2) Inventions that were publicly worked in Japan or a foreign country, prior to the filing of the patent application. Example: Sale of products, or open experiment, etc.
 (3) Inventions that were described in a distributed publication or inventions that were made publicly available through an electric telecommunication line in Japan or a foreign country, prior to the filing of the patent application. Example: Stated in the patent gazette (Tokkyo Koho), documents, or internet.

However, in above cases, an invention lacking novelty by the way presentation in a conference, or exhibited at an exhibition, etc. can be exceptionally relieved. However, a person who is going to receive this exceptional relief shall apply the invention within six months from the date of disclosing, with a document stating to seek the relief, and submit a document proving the fact of disclosing within thirty days from the date of filing of the patent application.

3. Inventiveness

An invention which is already known publicly or which anybody can easily make (an invention without inventiveness) should not be patented. An invention not contributing the development of technology is not worth a patent right, and if an invention easily thought up is patented,daily-performed technical improvement will be patented and that will prevent the development of industry. Existence or nonexistence of inventiveness is judged by an expert in the art considering whether a line of reasoning up to the invention is easy or not.

4. Earliest application

Different inventors may apply for the same patent around same time. In this case, only the applicant who filed the patent application earlier shall be entitled to obtain the patent, not the applicant who made the invention earlier. In this way, for the same invention, if anyone applies for the patent earlier, others cannot obtain a patent right for the invention, so it is important to apply for a patent as soon as an invention is made.

5. Other requirements

In addition, it is necessary not to injure public order, morality or public health and not to have deficiency of stating in the application documents.

(2) Procedures for Obtaining Patent Right