Thursday, October 29, 2015

UBIC Launches AI-Based Intellectual Property Strategy Support System

UBIC Inc. announced today that they will start providing an AI (Artificial Intelligence)-based intellectual property strategy support system soon which was developed with Toyota Technical Development Corporation. This system assists a legal department to research and analyze patent documents to check if their products infringe other parties' patents.

According to another article,  some law firms in the US are already test-driving AI-based applications.

AI technologies may truly steal our jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

JPO Unveiled The New Types of Trademarks Accepted

In Japan, new types of trademarks, i.e. Sound marks, Moving marks, Position marks, Hologram marks, and Color marks, have become available for registration since this April. JPO (Japan Patent Office) has unveiled today the new types of trademarks which were accepted.

List of Accepted New Types of Trademarks

JPO have received more than 1,000 trademark applications for the new types of trademarks until today, and accepted 43 trademarks (21 for sound mark; 16 for moving marks; 5 for position marks; 1 for hologram marks; 0 for color marks). Any color marks have not been accepted yet. A single color marks could be difficult to accept, but some combination of colors could be accepted by limiting the scope of goods or services. What color mark will be accepted first? Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Logo Design Row Following Tokyo 2020 Olympic Logo

After the Olympic logo design row, everyone has become an examiner. A new logo of Tokyo "& TOKYO" was examined by Internet users as soon as it was announced, they cited a logo design of a law firm in New Zealand "JONES&CO" as a prior art. Certainly, the design of "&" looks similar.

Another local government which advertised for logo requested the submitters to file a trademark application and make a signed statement of originality. Since copyright is generally protected worldwide without registration, copyright search has a lot of trouble. Also, when your copyright work is originally created without referring other people's work, it does not infringe copyright right, even if it is identical or similar. Of course, you have to prove originality on your work. 

Anyway, such an logo design row will go on for a while. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Next Pretty Cure (PreCure) is Wizard!?

It was found that the next PreCure, a Japanese popular anime series, is a wizard, by searching trademark applications filed by Toei Company, Ltd., a Japanese film, television production and distribution corporation. The title of another Toei's TV movie was revealed just a month ago, as reported here.

Toei may should consult the way of Apple and Google. First of all, they file a trademark application in the countries of which trademark system does not publicly disclose the application, and then file a claim for priority in their own country. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Driving Open Innovation

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced on Oct. 19 that they publicly seek technology seeds which fit their needs and research partners. MHI will own the outcome including intellectual properties from the research.

Such effort of driving Open Innovation by MHI should be recognized. However, they should have announced this on their global website, not only on the local (Japanese) website, if they really want to do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sign of Change in Music Rights Management in Japan

Monopolization on music rights management by JASRAC  (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) may end. JASRAC is the largest music copyright management society with 98% market share in Japan which manages copyright of more than three (3) million music, even after new entry has been admitted since 2001. However, AVEX Group has got off the drawing board.  AVEX Group has become the top shareholder both of e-License Inc. and JRC (Japan Rights Clearance) Inc. which are under integration, and started procedures to transfer their almost 100,000 music from JASRAC to e-License Inc.  Record companies and music distributors may receive better services under competition principle. 

It seems the Supreme court decision this April regarding JASRAC's copyright management agreement with broadcasting station on suspicion of violating antitrust laws encouraged this movement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The University of Tokyo Opening Office for Advancing Industry-University Cooperation in New York

Japanese universities start trying to gain a toehold in the US market. It is reported that a Japanese national university, the University of Tokyo will open an office for advancing industry-university cooperation in New York in coming November, following the news of Okayama Univ. They will seek opportunities for a joint research or funding. Only a single staff will reside there for the meantime.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Google Fighting Against Japanese Version of "Right to Be Forgotten"

Google has been fighting against "right to be forgotten" or "right to erase" in EU (e.g. the Google Spain case). Now, Google is fighting in Japan.  The oral proceeding was held at Saitama district court on October 16.

In this case, a man who was charged with violation of the child prostitution and pornography law more than 3 years ago seeks deletion of showing related articles at the time which is still shown by keyword search using his name and address, based on personal right (right not to be inhibited reclaim).

Prior to proceeding, Saitama district court ordered temporary injunction to delete the articles from search outcome last June, considering that it is relatively petty crime and does not have historical or social significance.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Japan Initiating Revision of Trademark & Copyright Law to Implement TPP

Responding to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) largely settled, Japanese government initiates revision of  Trademark and Copyright laws.

Of particular note should be change in assessment of the amount of compensation for damage. Under current laws, the amount of compensation is calculated by estimating actual damage. Therefore, a right holder often doesn't receive satisfactory compensation, when it is difficult to prove the amount of damage. Under the amendment bills, where an infringement is established, the right holder will receive a certain of amount compensation and further additional compensation, even when it is difficult to calculate damage.

Also, in the revised copyright law, protection from illegal downloading will be expand to e-books and computer software, in addition to music and movies.

The amendment bills will be submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet as early as next year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Amended Unfair Competition Prevention Act Coming into Force on January 1, 2016

METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) announced on October 9 that Amended Unfair Competition Prevention Act passed in July will come into force on January 1, 2016.

This amendment increases protection of trade secret against misappropriation, as follows.

  • Criminal fine is expanded up to 30M JPY (250,000 USD) for individual and up to 1,000M JPY (8M USD) for company. Also, different criminal fines are set for domestic leakage and leakage outside Japan. 
  • The investigating authority can start the investigation of a case without complaint by victim.
  • Regarding burden of proof, suspect has to prove that he does not misappropriate the trade secret. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Court Ordered Twitter to Disclose Identification of the Poster of Disinformation

Twitter disclosed the IP address of the poster of disinformation under order of Tokyo District Court last month. According to media report, the parents of one-year-old daughter whose portrait had been used on Twitter to spread disinformation asked the court on the ground of infringement on portrait right last August to issue an order to disclose identification of the poster of disinformation that she died during her parents having participated in a demonstration against the security-related bill under discussion.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Japan Ranked 6th in The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016

According to The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 published by World Economic Forum on Sep. 30, Japan is ranked as 6th competitive country among 140 countries, same as last year. The scores of Innovation and sophistication factors are very nice, especially in which the score of local supplier quantity and quality, nature of competitive advantage, etc. are ranked 1st. From a perspective of intellectual property, the number of application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) per million population is also ranked 1st.

On the other hand, the scores of macro economic environment, such as government budget balance (132nd) and debt (140th) as a percentage of GDP are very bad. It seems difficult to improve these scores for the time being, considering policies of current government.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Okayama Univ. Opening Office of Technology Transfer in Silicon Valley

A Japanese national university, Okayama Univ. will open an office of technology transfer in Fremont, CA in coming November. They plans to introduce their intellectual properties to extend collaboration with industries outside Japan, but start small with only two staff members for the meantime. They host a symposium and a networking event for a kickoff at Fairmont San Jose on Nov. 13.

The Press Release by Okayama University

Thursday, October 8, 2015

No More Generic Furniture Allowed!? - TRIPP TRAPP Case

Japan Intellectual Property High Court gave an interesting decision regarding copyrightability of a children's chair (TRIPP TRAPP) on April 14, 2015.

Generally, a design of industrial product such as furniture is protected by design right. The life of design right is 20 years after registration at JPO (Japan Patent Office). After that, such design becomes public domain, and anyone can use it. And the furniture using such public domain designs is so called "Generic Furniture", and are recently popular.

However, the IP High Court accepted copyrightability of the chair in this case, because it shows the designer's originality in the legs of the chair. This gave the industry a big surprise, though the court eventually denied similarity between TRIPP TRAPP and the accused chair.

Your design may be protected under copyright law for 50 years after it is made public, and even more 70 years based on the agreement of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interbrand Best Global Brands & Nikkei Research Brand Ranking

Interbrand released Best Global Brands 2015 on Oct. 5.  Six Japanese companies are ranked among top 100; i.e. Toyota (6), Honda (19), Canon (40), Nissan (49), Sony (58), and Panasonic (65).

On the other hand, Nikkei Research Inc. announced another brand ranking on Sep. 18 which is evaluated based on Perception Quotient (PQ).  In this ranking, Microsoft is No. 1, followed by Panasonic (2), Apple (2), Yamato Transport (4), Sony (5), Google (6), and Toyota (7).

Of course, different criteria produces different rankings...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yamaguchi University Released Their Patents

A Japan national university, Yamaguchi University opened their patents this October.  However, the duration of free use is limited up to 5 years (3 years for large companies). Because the university regards such duration of free use as testing period for potential licensees to decide if they can commercialize the patented technologies.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Posco Paid 30B JPY to Settle Trade Secret Case with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal

This is almost equal settlement package with the dispute between Toshiba and SK Hynix which was settled in December, 2014. Considering such a series of disputes, the Japanese government amended the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in July, 2015 in order to increase protection of trade secret.

The Press Release by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal