Sunday, March 26, 2017

Patent Invalidity Defense and Invalidation Trial, Which is more effective in Japan?

When you got sued for patent infringement in Japan and you want to assert the invalidity of the subject patent, maybe you should not choose an invalidation trial at JPO (Japan Patent Office) 

In the Japanese litigation system, a defendant can file a patent  invalidation trial at JPO, while making an invalidity defense in lawsuit procedure (Dual Tracks) 

According to statistics prepared by JPO*, the most common choice by defendant is taking both measures, i.e. an invalidation trial at JPO and invalidity defense in lawsuit procedure (16 cases in 2015). The second choice is taking an invalidity defense without filing an invalidation trial (15 cases in 2015)Filing an invalidation trail only without taking an invalidity defense is rare (0 cases in 2015).  
(Note*: You can see the corresponding material in English here, though a little bit older but almost the same.)  

When a defendant takes both the measures, the court and JPO can exchange the information. Nonetheless, sometimes they come to a different decisionAccording to the result of sample survey (41 cases in 2012-2015)district courts and JPO made the same decisions in 61% of the cases and different decisions in 15% of the cases. In the remaining 24% of the cases, the courts did not make a decision on the validity of the patents.

As shown in the previous articlethe invalidity defense often works well in patent infringement lawsuits in Japan. 

On the other handsas for invalidation trials, the statistics show different resultsThe rate of being invalidated in patent invalidation trials has been decreasing year by year since 2008 as shown in the chart below. 
The invalidation rate in patent invalidation trials is 18% for 2015

So, we can say that patent right has been becoming stable in JPO onlyPatent owners will still hesitate to enforce their patents, if they are likely to be judged as invalid in courts. To resolve such situation, we may need to:
  • Change the litigation system so that courts cannot judge validity of patents, or 
  • Improve the quality of examination at JPO to generate patents which can't be judged as invalid in courts. 
Anywayaccording to the statistics, it may not be a good litigation strategy for defendants to file a patent invalidation trial at JPO in all haste, separately from litigation proceedings.  

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