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Q. What is a patent?


A patent is a monopoly right giving — as compensation for disclosure of an invention — exclusive use of an invention for a certain time to an inventor (Patent Law Article 29) or to a party to which the inventor has transferred its right to obtain a patent (Patent Law Article 33), including an employer to which the inventor has transferred its patent rights (Patent Law Article 35). Japan's Patent Law defines an invention as a “highly advanced creation of technical ideas utilizing the laws of nature” (Patent Law Article 2), and provides that an invention that is novel, industrially applicable (i.e., useful), and not obvious to others knowledgeable in the field of the invention can obtain the legal protection of a patent. (Patent Law Article 29), provided that specified procedural requirements are complied with. Accordingly, scientific theories or mathematical methods, as well as discoveries of naturally occurring materials or substances, are excluded from patent protection.


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