In Japan, the a patent application merely starts the process of obtaining a patent and one of the most important steps following the application is filing a request for examination of the patent. The Japan Patent Office will not examine a patent without being requested to do so and if the applicant does not submit a request within 3 years of filing his or her application the application will be considered withdrawn and no patent will be granted.
When someone is trying to patent something in Japan that is not unique or for some other reason should not be patentable, third parties are allowed to intervene in the patent application process to argue against granting the patent. These interventions can even be filed anonymously and, if successful, will prevent the granting of a patent for products that are not unique or not patentable for some other reason.
When licensing a patent to another party it is possible to register the license with the Japanese Patent Office. However, registering a license is not required in every case. Generally, the only licenses that need to be registered are exclusive licenses.
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.