Saturday, July 14, 2018

What to expect when JPO improves its machine translation system

The machine translation system of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) will be upgraded in May 2019. Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation (TDS), which was split off from Toshiba Corporation in July 2017, won a contract with the JPO for the  development of the system. 

According to the announcement on July 10 2018, in order to improve translation accuracy, the new system will adopt the technologies to: 
  • automatically extract Claims and fixed format parts from a patent document using TDS’s natural language processing system and appropriately distribute them to NMT (Neural Machine Translation), RBMT (Rule Based Machine Translation), and SMT (Statistical Machine Translation); and
  • format input sentence.
As for NMT, it will employ the NMT system developed by NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology). Also, Microsoft Azure will be employed for a system infrastructure to process a large number of patent documents at high speed. 

This is one of Government measures for the JPO.  The Intellectual Property Strategic Program 2018 which was published in June 2018 states as follows:
“In order to strengthen ability to disseminate information on examinations and trials from the JPO, the government will develop the environment for improving accuracy in the machine translation system for Japanese to English translation. Also, in order to make it easier for Japanese users to access the IP information provided by overseas patent and trademark offices, it will develop the environment for improving accuracy in the machine translation system for foreign languages to Japanese.” 
When the JPO successfully improves accuracy of machine translation, I would suggest to the JPO to further consider not requiring overseas patent applicants to submit the Japanese translation of patent application documents. Because several people from overseas firms have told me that their clients hesitate or give up patent application filing in Japan, considering the cost of Japanese translation which they feel expensive. Alternatively, allowing the submission of English translation may work. Because the English translation can be used for patent application filing in other English-speaking countries and it would not bother so much. Anyway, I expect the JPO to create an environment where overseas clients who want to obtain patent rights in Japan don’t have to give up due to just translation cost.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Japan to initiate a government-led blockchain project

Japan starts to study a blockchain system for contents management. The government is aiming to support Japanese contents business (e.g. game, character) by providing a system which realizes smooth copyrights handling by using smart contract and other functions based on blockchain technology. The Japanese government is reportedly planning to proceed to the validation phase in 2019.

In addition to this government project, Sony seems considering using blockchain technology for Digital Rights Management (DRM). Reportedly, Sony has filed a patent application, which was published by USPTO on April 26 2018, for using blockchain technology to manage ownership of purchased games for PlayStation 4. 

Blockchain technology-based IP platform is becoming hot. So far as I am aware,  the following news have been reported recently.

  • KODAK announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform, and KODAKCoin cryptocurrency on January 9 2018.
  • Microsoft and EY announced a blockchain solution for content rights and royalties management for media and entertainment industry on June 21 2018.
  • Chinese company CFun is developing a platform for managing transactions between customers and creators, especially Japanese manga artists, as a first step.

The above platforms are for contents management; i.e. for copyright work. Of course, there are platforms for patent rights management built by the following companies.

  • IPwe - The Global Patent Registry
  • OPEREM - The OPEREM Exchange Platform. OPEREM is featured by Jacob Schindler in IAM blog.
  • BPSA - IPNet

In my view, the platform for contents management is likely to become widely used relatively quickly. Digital contents such as photos are already traded actively at fixed price with routine procedure. That seems to be compatible with such a platform. On the other hand, for patents transactions, the platform may require a major change in the current practices. First of all, the platform provider may be required to provide obvious benefits of using their platform that appeal to patent licensing professionals.

Anyway, it’s quite exciting to see how the new technologies change IP services.