FAQ

August 24, 2016

What is the Utility Model Act?

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.
September 2, 2016

What happens if a spouse won’t support his or her spouse’s visa renewal?

Certain visas to legally stay in Japan are based upon being married to a resident of Japan.  This can include foreign nationals who are married to Japanese citizens and receive a spouse visa, or for foreign national couples where one spouse who has legal status in Japan is supporting the other through a family based visa.  As these visas depend on the marital status of the couple, it is often critical for the spouses to work together to obtain a renewal of these visas.  However, if the sponsoring spouse decides to withhold his or her cooperation in renewing a visa, there […]
September 14, 2016

Is it possible to search for registered patents in Japan?

Access to patent information isn’t just important for inventors looking to protect their inventions but also for companies looking to license new technology.  Therefore, the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training runs an online search tool called the Patent Licensing Information Database that freely allows the public to search for information about registered patents.  There is no fee to use the service and no registration is required.
October 13, 2016

Is it possible to patent an invention that is already known to others?

One of the main requirements to obtain a patent is that the invention not be known to the public.  This prevents people from patenting inventions that are not special and unique to the inventor.  Therefore, it is important to keep an invention secret until you’ve had a chance to discuss patenting it with an attorney.