Friday, November 27, 2015

Restarted Tokyo Olympics Emblems Selection Process

Three months passed after the earlier decision of Olympics Emblems was reversed due to a suspicion of theft of designs. The emblem selection committee restarted to invite the public to offer their designs on November 24, and already received about 300 applications. The committee expects around 10,000 applications until the due date December 7, since more than 70,000 application guidebook was downloaded.

The previous process was criticized for being unclear. Therefore, the committee is considering public vote this time. However, there is some downside to disclosing to the public the candidate designs. Someone may maliciously file trademark applications, or many people may try to find similar designs. Anyway, the committee is likely to face a rough passage for the emblem selection. 

Special webpage for the Tokyo2020 Games emblems

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Seem Unlikely to Change Japanese Injunction System against PAE and SEP

Japan government formed a committee to discuss how intellectual property dispute-settlement system should be. The first topic was injunction system. In particular, the committee discussed whether the right to demand injunction of patent holders should be limited in some cases, considering recent cases such as enforcement based on standard essential patents (SEP) and enforcement by patent assertion entity (PAE).

The bottom line is that they decided that the right to demand injunction should not be limited in a single uniform way, but   should be considered on a case-by-case basis, under the theory of abuse of right and/or competition law, in both cases of SEP and PAE, because it is essential part of patent right to allow to exclusively execute the invention. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Japanese Cartoons (Manga) Become Availabe at Piracy Sites in 4 Hours?!

In the cases of unauthorized disclosure of Japanese serial cartoons in comic magazines before their release, Japan police (Kyoto) arrested one Japanese and five Chinese on suspicion of copyright infringement this month.

In these cases, the Japanese suspect working at a delivery firm passed the comic magazines to the Chinese suspects in the course of delivery. Then, Chinese suspects sent them to their team in China to translate into English and upload to their piracy sites. In the fastest cases, such translated cartoons became available at their piracy sites after 4 to 5 hours after the Chinese suspects received them. 

I hope everyone including readers respects creators and compensate them to enjoy their works.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Japan Supreme Court Approved PTE Based on 2nd MA for Drug Having Same Ingredients but Different Dosage (Genentech Inc. v. JPO)

A good news for new drug developers. Japan Supreme Court made a decision on November 17 in Genentech Inc. v. JPO that Patent Term Extension (PTE) should be approved for a drug patent when the drug is granted marketing authorization (MA) for different dosage and administration even if the drug has the same ingredients.

Japanese patent law allows PTE for up to 5 years for a drug patent, considering the duration spent for MA. Genentech owns patents for anticancer drug “Avastin”. They got granted MA in 2007 for the drug of which dosage and administration is 5mg/kg or 10mg/kg, and JPO approved PTE for 4 years or so. After that, they got granted another MA in 2009 for the drug having same ingredients but for different dosage and administration, i.e. 7.5 mg/kg, and they applied for further PTE. However, JPO rejected it, because the drug has the same ingredients, according to the examination guidelines.  

The Supreme Court stated that PTE should be approved when a drug granted latter MA is different from another drug granted the former MA, and when the two of the drugs are different in dosage and administration, they are different even when they have same ingredients.

In response to this decision, JPO announced the next day that the amended examination guidelines will be published in spring next year. Until then, the PTE related examinations for drug patents will be suspended. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Japan's Basic Plan for Science and Technology Will Set Numerical Targets

Japan government will set numerical targets in the 5th stage of Basic Plan for Science and Technology. The basic plan is revised every half-decade, and the 5th stage basic plan indicates the direction of Japanese science and technology in 2016-2020.

The 5th stage basic plan will include 23 numerical targets, for example:
  • Rank order of national universities in the world ranking
  • Number of university ventures
  • Number of IPO for R&D types of ventures
  • Share of products and services in the world market
Also, it will be likely to include the intellectual property (IP) related targets, such as:
  • Number of IPs, technical papers, standards in the area of ICT (information and communication technology)
  • Number of technical papers which are cited in patent documents
The 5th stage basic plan will be developed by December this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

WIPO IP Report / Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators: Japanese Companies Showing The Presence

WIPO IP Report 2015 and Thomson Reuters's Top 100 Global Innovators were published on November 11th and 12th respectively. In response to them, Japanese media reported that Japanese companies are showing their competitiveness; i.e. eight Japanese companies are ranked among the top 10 in the number of patent applications in robotics area, and forty Japanese companies are chosen in the top 100 global innovators.

However, it should be noted that Japanese companies have always been investing a huge money in R&D and IP, but most of them have been facing difficulties in business. Considering that, recently, Japanese companies and government are discussing and implementing a variety of measures to use IP effectively.  Hopefully such measures will work well.

My concern is that the share of academic patenting in Japan is lower than other countries (See Figure 6, Page 13 of WIPO IP Report). And Japanese universities moved down on the list of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The WIPO IP Report says that "the science system and formal linkages between scientific institutions and companies appear to be more important today than in the past". Hope academic will improve their performance.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Japan Earned 9.7B Dollars from Intellectual Property Revenues in 1H of 2015

Ministry of Finance Japan put out a press release on November 10 stating that Balance of Payments in the first half (April to September) of fiscal year 2015 recorded a surplus of 8,693.8B JPY (72.4B USD), that is 4.3 times more than the same period last year and recovered to the pre-quake level.

In particular, the royalty revenues for intellectual properties recorded a surplus of 1,170.6B JPY (9,755M USD) that shows a 64% rise and largest-ever in the 1H of years. That currently consists mostly of revenues from overseas subsidiaries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

IPBC Asia 2015 Drawn to Successful Close

The IP Business Congress Asia (IPBC Asia) was held from November 8 to 10 in Tokyo. This event "focuses on how IP owners can strategically use intellectual property to secure greater operational flexibility, drive revenues, enhance bottom-line returns, increase shareholder value and provide leverage in the financial markets".

This is the fourth IPBC for me since last year, i.e. those held in Shanghai, Beijing, San Francisco and now Tokyo. I made many new friends at these events and got updates on IP businesses every time.

Here is nice summary for Day 1 and Day 2 which were prepared by Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) staff who is a host of this event.

Day 1
US market dominance under serious threat and much more from IPBC Asia 2015 Day One

Day 2
Buying strategies for growing companies; the great "troll" debate; US hope & more at IPBC Asia 2015 Day Two

Sunday, November 8, 2015

[TPP] Japan Requires Complaint by Copyright Holder to Initiate Legal Action Against Derivative Work

The advisory body to the government on copyright matters had a meeting on Nov. 4 to examine direction on developing copyright law corresponding to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

One of questions is whether or not Article 18.77 6 (g) should be applied to not only an exact copy of an original work, but also its derivative work. On this issue, interestingly, even representatives of copyright holders on music, book and movie respectively expressed concern over the possible chilling effect, by applying it to the derivative work, on creative activities or fan art, cosplay, doujin manga to which copyright holders give silent approval.

After all, they agreed that this article should not be applied to such derivative works. Therefore, in Japan, this article will be applied only to piracy infringement which a copyright holder doesn't want. It was reported that there were no objections raised to this direction in the meeting.

Article 18.77: Criminal Procedures and Penalties 
 1. Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at least in cases of wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale. In respect of wilful copyright or related rights piracy, “on a commercial scale” includes at least:  
(a)  acts carried out for commercial advantage or financial gain; and 
(b)  significant acts, not carried out for commercial advantage or financial gain, that have a substantial prejudicial impact on the interests of the copyright or related rights holder in relation to the marketplace. 
 6. With respect to the offences described in paragraphs 1 through 5, each Party shall provide the following: 
(g)  Its competent authorities may act upon their own initiative to initiate legal action without the need for a formal complaint by a third person or right holder. 
- Media Report on This News (Japanese)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Business Model for Game Companies? - BANDAI NAMCO's IP Release Project Works Well

Allowing others to create derivative works based on characters and/or musics in a video game and obtaining part of the profits from the sales or advertising revenue of such derivative works. BANDA NAMCO Entertainment Inc. started such a project this April, celebrating the 10th year anniversary of consolidation of BANDAI and NAMCO. They released intellectual properties of 17 games including PAC-MAN, MAPPY, and DRAGON BUSTER which were popular in '80s.

According to the report, BANDAI NAMCO received more than 200 plans, passed 108 plans among them, and 18 games or works are already available. Unless it is offensive to public order and morals, every plan is approved.

This project is open for a limited time and domestic companies, creators and schools. However, if all goes well, they may expand this project to abroad, or even other companies may try to start similar projects.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Suntory Loses A Patent Infringement Case on Nonalcoholic Beer against Asahi

Tokyo District Court rejected Suntory Holdings Ltd.'s demand for an injunction against production and sales of nonalcoholic beer of Asahi Breweries, Ltd. on ground of patent infringement (Patent Number: 5382754), on Oct. 29.

The Suntory's patent is characterized by numerical limitations to sugar content, extracted component, and pH value, which improves satisfaction to drink, according to Suntory.

The court made a decision that the Suntory's patent should be invalidated due to lack of inventive step, considering that the description doesn't demonstrate the interconnectedness of each of these numerical limitations, but just showing the range of sugar content, extracted component, and pH value respectively.
Article 104-3  (1) Where, in litigation concerning the infringement of a patent right or an exclusive license, the said patent is recognized as one that should be invalidated by a trial for patent invalidation, the rights of the patentee or exclusive licensee may not be exercised against the adverse party.
Suntory plans to appeal a ruling. 

Note: This patent (No. 5382754) is divided from Patent No. 5314220 based on WO2013/077292 which entered national phase in Australia, Canada, EPO, Korea, and Russia, in addition to Japan.

You can access the decision (Japanese) here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Use Of The Name of "Japanese Sake" Will Be Rigidly Controlled

There is a sake brewery in Seattle. The name of the brewery is Tomizawa-shuzo. After the nuclear accident in Fukushima in March, 2011, they moved with sake yeast "Shirafuji" to Seattle where the environment is similar to that of Fukushima and restarted sake-making there. However, such sake breweries serving overseas may become unable to call their sake "Japanese sake".

Japanese government indicated a policy of protecting Japanese sake as a geographical indication within this year. Then, refined sake which is brewed in Japan using domestic rice only is admitted to call "Japanese sake".

In the same way, "Japanese wine" will be also limited to use for the wine made in Japan from domestic grapes. This will come into force 3 years later.