The Japan Patent Office has just announced a new policy to help stimulate the economy.  It relates to the fees for filing a request for examination.  Apparently, the Japan Patent Office is not the only patent office to experience a large drop in the number of patent applications being filed.  The JPO’s annual report shows that the office received 396,291 applications in 2007 or about, 12,000 less than 2006.   This could have something to do with the fact that like the EPO and the USPTO, the JPO currently grants under 50% of the applications that it examines.

Specifically, starting April 1st and running for a period of two years, an applicant for a patent with the JPO can file a request for examination but delay payment of the fees for up to one year!  The payment will be due one year from filing the request, but if payment is not made at that time the JPO will issue an Order to Amend asking for the payment.  Failure to pay within a stipulated deadline will result in abandonment of the application. This delay can be taken anytime within the 3 year period for filing the request for examination.

This would seem to allow a client to delay a substantial outlay of funds at an early stage while still retaining a place in the queue for examination. This may be beneficial to many patent filers in these economically stressful times.  Note that this is not effective for expedited examination.

For those looking for a fast track to a patent, however, might want to make use of the JPO’s trial “super accelerated examination.”  According to the JPO, Keio University received a patent for a process for detecting toxic metals following a screening process that took just 17 days.

To make use of the system, the JPO requires the following:

  1. Applicants have already requested an examination, but for which the examination process has not yet started (i.e., Reasons for Refusal and other office actions have been taken)
  2. Working invention-related application, applications filed by an applicant or a licensee who has already commercialized the invention or plans to commercialize the invention within two years from the filing date
  3. Internationally filed Applications, that is, applications that were filed with both the JPO and at least one foreign IP Office
  4. Applicants file online

The JPO is planning to continue the test for at least six months and lead to the revision and official operation of the system after considering the opinions of the applicants who used the test system.

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  1. Interesting piece of news. Could you confirm where you got this information? The JPO fee schedule makes no mention of these new rules.

  2. I apologize for leaving off the attribution. The report on delayed payment of examination fees comes from S. Soga & Co., Tokyo, Japan.


  3. Stephen, thank you- much appreciated.