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Our services

We can provide individual and corporate clients with a full range of services necessary to fully protect and make best use of their intellectual property rights.

In order that we will have in our file a Power of Attorney (POA) form authorizing us to act on behalf of a client, we ask that each client provide a POA form executed by a person authorized to act as a representative of the client. Download a Power of Attorney form.

Filing Applications in Japan
- Patent and Utility Models
Japan's Patent Law defines an invention as "the highly advanced creation of technical ideas utilizing the laws of nature," (Article 2) and provides that inventions that can be patented are"those that are industrially applicable, have novelty, and involve inventive step." (Article 29(1)). In Japan, patent rights, which are exclusive rights granted to an applicant pursuant to the Patent Law, are effective for 20 years from the date of filing of a patent application.

Utility model rights in Japan are provided for "the creation of technical ideas utilizing the laws of nature and are limited to the devices that relate to the shape or structure of an article or combination of articles," (Japan's Utility Models Law Article 3) and are effective for 10 years from the date of filing of an application to register a utility model.

In order to obtain patent or utility model rights in Japan, an applicant must file an application with the Japan Patent Office in accordance with specified procedures.

- Trademarks
Japan's Trademark Law provides that "a trademark is any character(s), sign(s), or three dimensional shape(s), or any combination thereof, or any combination thereof with colors . . . which is used in connection with the goods of a person who produces, certifies or assigns the goods as a business . . . ." (Article 2) Trademark rights protect trademarks as properties, so as to ensure the business confidence of those who use trademarks. In Japan, trademark rights are effective for 10 years from the date on which a trademark is registered.

- Designs
Japan's Design Law defines a design as "the shape, patterns or colors, or any combination thereof, of an article, . . . which creates an aesthetic impression through the eye" (Article 2). Design rights are effective for 20 years from the date of registration of a design.

In Japan, as explained above, patent rights, utility model rights, trademark rights, and design rights have unique definitions and characteristics. Utilizing our extensive knowledge of these IP rights and Japan's legal system in general, we listen to our clients and give each one appropriate advice, which enables us to appropriately represent foreign clients in Japan and guide them through complicated application procedures.

- Copyrights
Under the Japan Copyright Law, a wide variety of cultural creations— books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings and other artistic works, and others — can be provided with legal protection in the form of a copyright. Under the Berne Convention, protection is automatically granted at the moment of creation for a period of 50 years following the death of the creator, and thus a copyright need not be registered to be protected.
However, because in Japan the following will not be effective against any third party unless registered, we recommend registration of : (1) the transfer or alteration by trust of a copyright, or a restriction on the disposal of a copyright; and (2) the establishment, transfer, alteration or expiration, or restriction on the disposal, of a right of pledge relating to a copyright. Furthermore, because, for example, the creator of a program work may have the date of creation of such a work registered only within six months after the creation of that work"on-time protection" is important.

Also, every copyright (author's rights and neighboring/related rights) that is applied for in Japan is registered with the cultural authorities of the Government of Japan, i.e., the Japan Copyright Office (JCO) of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA), which is a part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Searches and their importance
- Prior-Art Searches
When seeking a patent or registration of a utility model, design, trademark, or other intellectual property rights in Japan, a foreign applicant must be aware of relevant prior applications. If, for instance, a foreign applicant intends to file an application for an invention that (1) is the same as an invention for which an application has already been filed in Japan by another party and has already been published in the government gazette, or (2) is widely known through a distributed publication or is on goods that have been publicly distributed in commerce, it will be difficult for the later applicant to obtain the applied-for patent. In particular, sometimes an invention that has been patented or allowed as a utility model or granted some other intellectual property rights in another country is not granted corresponding IP rights in Japan, on the ground that the object sought to be registered is the same as one that has already been applied for or registered in Japan. This can be a big obstacle for an individual or company that wishes to introduce a product into Japan. Therefore, it is necessary for such a potential applicant to find out in advance whether any similar invention(s) or the like have been applied for or registered in Japan. This is the main objective of a prior-art search.

- Invalidation Searches
Japan's Patent Law allows a party to file a request for a trial for to invalidate a patent or patent application. Such a request can be filed by a foreign client against a patent that is considered to infringe that client's rights in some way, or by another party seeking to invalidate a foreign client's Japanese patent or application.

- IP-Infringement Searches
Under Japan's Patent Law, a patentee may initiate legal action against a party that the patentee alleges is infringing or is likely to infringe the patentee's rights, so as to stop or prevent such infringement. Measures available to the patentee include requesting both an injunction against the sale of the allegedly infringing products and indemnification of damage(s) suffered by the patentee. Therefore, a foreign party wishing to introduce its product(s) into Japan is advised to first conduct an infringement search in order to be sure that it will not be subjected to a legal action because its product(s) infringe on another party's patent(s) or other IP rights. Conversely, if a foreign owner of patent rights in Japan believes that its rights might be being infringed, it should conduct an infringement search in order to protect its rights and to take remedial measures as appropriate. These considerations apply equally well to trademarks and other IP rights.

We excel at the above types of searches because we are based in Japan and have personnel who are well-versed in Japanese IP-related laws. We are committed to providing to our clients correct and precise analyses; the best IP results possible; and significant reductions in their costs, workload, and other burdens; and, in the end, satisfaction with our service. Our searches are not limited only to documents in Japanese, but encompass those in English, French, German, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese as well.

Other Legal Services
- Expert Legal Opinions and IP-Infringement Litigation
If the result of, for instance, a patent-infringement search suggests to us the need to take action because of possible infringement by a client, we carefully examine the various options available, including initiating a proceeding to invalidate the other party's patent or application or to require revision of the description, claim(s), and/or or drawing(s) of the other party's application. We then propose to our client the measures that would be most advantageous for the client to effectively protect and utilize its intellectual properties.

- Analyzing and Preparing Agreements
As necessary or desirable to protect or advance a client's interests, whether short-term or long-term, we draft contracts, memoranda of understanding, and/or other legal documents that reflect not only legal considerations, but also an analysis of the client's current and likely future business circumstances.

Other Services
- Translation and Interpretation
Among our personnel are a number who have language competency in a language other than Japanese, including English, French, German, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. These members are not only well-qualified as translators and interpreters, but also are highly knowledgeable about and well-experienced in intellectual-property matters. Our staff's multiple language capabilities enable us to provide appropriate and accurate translations of the full range of IP-related documents—including patent specifications, contracts, analytical reports and technical writings, correspondence, and decisions rendered by the Japan Patent Office and courts— that are essential for engaging in business in Japan. Although we place top priority on the accuracy of translations, we also are aware of and sensitive to differences in the commercial customs and cultural aspects of various nations and regions, and the significance of those factors for translation work.

- Consulting Services
How a client can best exploit its intellectual properties in Japan, or what types of intellectual properties a client should obtain in Japan, depends on each client's unique situation. A foreign client might not foresee troubles that might arise in Japan or might overlook good opportunities for its business here. We provide foreign clients with information, options, and advice that are tailored to fit a client's situation and that meet that client's needs, based on our abundant knowledge and experience concerning intellectual property rights and our understanding of circumstances unique to Japan and a client's home country.

* In-Company Training for Clients
We provide clients with a variety of training services, such as instructional talks, periodic study meetings, and formulation of a framework for a client's in-house administration of patents and other intellectual properties.

* Lectures and Informational Presentations
Our professionals have served as instructors or have given IP-related informational presentations at a number of educational institutions, including: the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training, Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering, Sojo University, Tokyo International University, and Chu Van An University. We are available to provide such services —in Japan or overseas — whenever desired by a client or other party.



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