The Utility Model Act protects the shape or structure of a device. Typically, Utility Model applications are reserved for inventions that are simpler than those covered by the Patent Act and as such, the application process is also streamlined. However, the 10 year protection granted is only half as long as the duration of a patent right.
Sometimes the right to patent an invention doesn’t rest directly with the inventor but rather with the company the inventor works for. Many companies, universities and research centers take measures to ensure that the institution, and not the inventor, owns all patents arising from an invention.
The Madrid Agreement is an international treaty regulating the protection of intellectual property. Ninety countries are registered to the system established by the treaty and it is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) The portion of the Madrid System that applies to trademarks is called the Madrid Protocol.
Patent law in Japan covers inventions that “utilize the laws of nature.” This qualification makes Japanese patent law unique and means that inventions that the products of a person’s mind, rules to a game or scientific laws cannot be patented. Therefore, business method patents, which are designed to protect an intangible business idea, are generally not recognized in Japan.