Normally, the patent office is only provided with the patent applicant’s viewpoint when considering a patent application. However, this sometimes doesn’t give the patent office all the information necessary to make a decision on the application as there might be certain prior art that the applicant may wish to hide. This is why it is also possible for third parties to submit their opinions on pending applications.
Third parties may have a strong interest in submitting an opinion to a pending patent application in order to point out to the patent office that the patent application should be rejected based upon lack of novelty or a prior art. Holders of patents similar to the application can use this process to protect their own patent and ensure that similar patents are not granted.
If you have any questions about obtaining a patent in Japan please contact our office for a legal consultation.