patents trademarks, designs, and copyrights.

Patent and Trademark in Japan

patents trademarks, designs, and copyrights.


What are the types of patent applications filed with Japan Patent Office?

In Japan, there are several types of applications, each serving a specific purpose. The main types of applications in Japan include:

Regular Patent Application (Tokkyo):
This is the standard application for inventions. It undergoes a substantive examination by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) to determine patentability.
Utility Model Application (Jitsuyo Tokkyo):
Utility models are similar to patents but generally cover inventions with lower inventive steps. They undergo a formal examination rather than a substantive one and are typically granted more quickly than regular patents.
Design Patent Application (Shokkai Tokkyo):
This type of application is for protecting the ornamental design of an article. Design patents focus on the visual appearance rather than the functionality of the product.
International Patent Application (PCT):
Applicants can file an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) to seek protection in multiple countries, including Japan. The PCT application can enter the national phase in Japan for further processing.
Divisional Application (Bunrui Tokkyo):
If an application covers multiple inventions, the applicant may be required to file a divisional application to separate and pursue each invention independently.
Continuation Application (Sokushin Tokkyo):
An applicant may file a continuation application to pursue additional claims or aspects of the invention that were not covered in the original application.
Correction of Errors (Ayamari Tokkyo):
This type of application is filed to correct errors in the original application.

Is it permissible for an applicant to submit an application in a foreign language in Japan?

Yes, an applicant can file an application in a foreign language in Japan. However, if the original application documents are not in Japanese, a Japanese translation must be filed within a specified period after the filing date. The Japan Patent Office typically requires the translation to be submitted within 14 months from the priority date. This translation requirement ensures that the JPO can effectively examine the application.

What is patentability criteria in Japan?

The essential criteria for patentability encompass novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. In the context of the Japan Patent Act, an ‘invention’ is described as “the highly advanced creation of technical ideas involving the utilization of a law of nature.”

What cannot be patented in Japan?

Under the Japan Patent Act, certain types of inventions are deemed non-patentable. These include inventions that may compromise public order, morality, or public health, as well as those grounded in laws of nature, scientific discoveries, or not utilizing natural laws (e.g., economic laws, mathematical methods). Additionally, inventions contrary to a law of nature, arbitrary arrangements (e.g., game rules), mental activities, personal skills, mere information presentation, aesthetic effects (e.g., paintings), and methods for medical treatment of the human body are excluded from patentability. These criteria aim to delineate patentable subject matter, emphasizing the protection of practical and technical innovations.

How does the examination of a patent application proceed in Japan?

When submitting an application to the JPO, thorough scrutiny is conducted to ensure compliance with procedural and formal requisites. In cases where essential documents are missing or specific sections are incomplete, the applicant receives an invitation to correct the application. A timely response to this office action is mandatory, with a requirement to file the reply within three months from the notice’s issuance.

For applications filed under the PCT, a request for examination is filed within three years from the international filing date. Similarly, for Paris Convention cases filed directly in Japan, Applicant should file a request for examination within three years from the filing date of the priority application.

In the event that an application fails to meet the requirements stipulated in the Patent Act, the examiner has the authority to reject the application. However, prior to rejecting an application, the examiner is obligated to notify the applicant of the grounds for refusal. This notification affords the applicant an opportunity to provide a written opinion addressing the identified issues within a specified timeframe. This procedural step ensures fairness and due process in the examination process.

What are the grounds to reject a patent application in Japan?

The Japan Patent Law outlines several grounds for rejecting an application, reflecting stringent criteria to ensure the integrity of the patent system. Rejections may occur if amendments surpass the original scope, if unity of invention is lacking, or if the applicant, particularly a foreign national, fails to meet domicile or residency requirements. Further grounds include the application’s lack of industrial applicability, potential disruption to public order, or non-compliance with enablement, support, clarity, and conciseness requirements.

Additionally, rejection may be warranted for applications written in a foreign language exceeding the allowable scope, failure to meet the earliest filing date, and non-compliance with relevant treaties. These provisions aim to maintain the quality of patents granted and uphold the legal standards integral to the patent application process in Japan.

How to Renew/Maintain patents in Japan?

Renewal fees in Japan are calculated based on specific timelines, starting with the very first renewal due date and continuing annually thereafter. During the application process, no annuities are due. The initial annuity payment becomes applicable three months once the patent has been granted i.e., after the grant date. This initial payment covers the first three annuities.

After the payment of the initial three annuities, subsequent renewal fees must be paid annually until expiration of the patent term. The schedule for these payments commences on the anniversary of the grant date, starting from three years after the grant date. This systematic approach ensures the timely and consistent payment of renewal fees throughout the life of the granted patent in Japan.

What procedures exist for opposition in Japan?

Following the grant of a patent in Japan, third parties can contest its validity through a patent opposition filed with the Japan Patent Office (JPO). Open to all, this process must be initiated within six months of the patent’s publication in the Patent Gazette. Grounds for potential revocation are varied, encompassing issues like amendments exceeding the original scope, lack of industrial applicability, prior public knowledge, violations of relevant treaties, and non-compliance with enablement, support, clarity, and conciseness requirements. This comprehensive mechanism ensures a thorough review, allowing objections based on specific legal criteria outlined in the Patent Law and contributing to the maintenance of robust and valid patents within the Japanese intellectual property framework.

How much does a patent cost in Japan?

The cost of obtaining and maintaining a patent in Japan can vary depending on several factors, including the type of patent, the complexity of the invention, and the services of attorneys or agents. Here is a general breakdown of the potential costs:

Filing Fees: These fees are incurred when submitting an application to the Japanese Patent Office. The amount depends on the type of application (e.g., regular patent, utility model, design) and whether the applicant is a natural person, a small entity, or a large entity.
Examination Fees: The JPO charges examination fees for assessing the application’s novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. These fees vary based on the type of patent.
Annuality Fees/Renewal Fees: After the grant of the patent, annuity fees must be paid to keep the patent in force. As mentioned earlier, these fees are due annually on the anniversary of the grant date.
Translation Costs: If the original documents are in a language other than Japanese, translation costs may be incurred for filing and prosecution purposes.
Attorney Fees: Many applicants choose to work with patent attorneys or agents to navigate the patent application process. Attorney fees can vary based on the complexity of the application and the services provided.
Miscellaneous Costs: There may be additional costs for responding to office actions, amendments, and other procedural requirements during the examination process.

At ipRenewal, our commitment to safeguarding your inventions in Japan extends beyond legal expertise; it’s a comprehensive journey facilitated by our seasoned attorneys. Collaborating closely with inventors, we meticulously craft specifications that adhere to the highest standards, incorporating detailed descriptions, robust claims, and precise drawings. Our Patent Application Drafting services showcase our dedication to a thorough and meticulous approach.

Navigating the intricate landscape of intellectual property (IP) in Japan requires expertise, and our experienced team of attorneys is dedicated to simplifying and optimizing the entire process. Recognizing the paramount importance of protecting your IP, our services are designed to guide you through every step, starting with the grant of a patent. This journey commences with selecting the right type of patent, factoring in elements such as the nature of the invention, desired protection duration, and accessibility in the Japanese national phase of the application process. This tailored approach, facilitated by our streamlined online platform, ensures a smooth filing process with all necessary documents for a successful submission, including obtaining a certificate of patent.

Managing and paying renewal fees become seamless and cost-effective with ipRenewal’s user-friendly platform, guaranteeing the uninterrupted protection of your patents. Trust us to navigate the complexities of patent applications, prosecution, and maintenance, allowing you to focus on your innovative endeavors with confidence. Our holistic services are a testament to our commitment to providing unparalleled support at every stage of your patent journey.

At ipRenewal, we not only offer expert guidance throughout the patent protection journey but also distinguish ourselves by providing the best quotes for IP services in Japan. We go a step further, guaranteeing to beat existing quotes from other service providers. Our commitment to cost-effective solutions is coupled with an unwavering dedication to delivering top-notch IP services, ensuring the protection of your Japanese patents and addressing any infringement of a patent right effectively. Trust us to safeguard your innovations with a comprehensive and budget-friendly approach in the Japanese intellectual property landscape.


What can be protected as Trademark in Japan?

In Japan, the scope of protected trademarks has evolved over time. Originally, the terms “word,” “figure,” “sign,” and “three-dimensional configuration” and combinations thereof were eligible for trademark protection. However, since April 2015, application for trademark consisting additional elements such as “motion,” “hologram,” “position,” “color,” and “sound” are accepted.

A mark, registration of the trademark right, must possess distinctiveness. Three-dimensional marks are eligible for registration, but the sense of smell is not registrable in Japan.

Marks lacking distinctiveness include common names of goods, overly simple designs like two initials in a common format, and descriptive marks that convey information such as origin, place of sale, quality, raw materials, use, quantity, etc. Such marks cannot be registered.

However, there is a possibility of obtaining registration for such marks if the applicant can demonstrate that consumers associate the goods or services with their business due to long and extensive use of the mark. This recognition by consumers can overcome the hurdle of lacking inherent distinctiveness.

What does the trademark law entail in Japan?

Japan operates under a trademark registration system known as “First-to-File,” where the Japan Patent Office (JPO) awards trademark rights to the first entity that successfully submits an application for a specific trademark, emphasizing the importance of the filing date. This system prioritizes the party initiating the trademark registration, irrespective of their role as the original creators or users of the trademark.

Practically, this implies that if another entity has already registered a similar or identical trademark in Japan, those filing subsequently may face challenges in obtaining legal protection for their trademark. To address this risk, it is essential for business owners and individuals planning to enter or operate in the Japanese market to proactively register their trademarks with the JPO, designating Japan as a key step.

By taking this proactive approach and focusing on the filing date, entities can minimize the likelihood of someone else securing a similar trademark first, thereby reducing the potential for legal complications and trademark infringement issues. Registering trademarks before entering the market not only safeguards intellectual property rights but also establishes a sturdy foundation for building a distinctive brand presence and utilizing the trademark in Japan.

In summary, adhering to the “First-to-File” principle in Japan underscores the significance of timely registration, emphasizing the filing date, to ensure legal protection and minimize the risk of conflicts with existing registrations. It is a strategic approach to securing intellectual property rights and fostering a secure business environment in the Japanese market, especially when designating Japan in the trademark application.

How long does it take for obtaining a trademark in Japan?

The process of registering a trademark typically spans an average of 14 months from the initial application filing, assuming there are no objections or opposition from other trademark owners. It’s important to note that this duration can vary based on the complexity of the application and any challenges that may arise during the examination process.

To expedite the registration timeline, applicants have the option to apply for accelerated examination. This initiative can trim down the standard processing time by up to 2 months. Moreover, certain applications automatically qualify for a fast-track examination, further reducing the processing period by up to 4 months.

This means that, by leveraging the option of accelerated examination or meeting the criteria for fast-track examination, applicants can potentially streamline the trademark registration process in Japan, obtaining legal protection for their marks more swiftly. However, it’s essential to navigate any opposition or objections carefully, as these can extend the timeline and require additional steps in the registration process.

In summary, while the standard timeframe for registration of a trademark is approximately 14 months, applicants have the opportunity to expedite this process by opting for accelerated examination or benefiting from automatic eligibility for fast-track examination, ultimately facilitating a quicker establishment of trademark rights in the Japanese market.

Which individuals or entities have the ability to file a trademark application in Japan?

Individuals or entities with a permanent address or residence (or office, in the case of a legal entity) in Japan have the option to directly submit their trademark application to the Japan Patent Office (JPO). However, it is highly advisable to engage the services of a trademark attorney as a representative. This is recommended because a proficient understanding of the Japanese language, coupled with in-depth knowledge of the applicable laws and procedures, is essential for the successful filing and completion of the trademark registration process.

For foreign applicants lacking a permanent address or residence in Japan, it is mandatory to designate a legal representative (a trademark attorney) who possesses a permanent address or residence in Japan. This appointed representative will handle all the necessary procedures on behalf of the foreign applicant, ensuring compliance with the requirements set forth by the JPO. This measure is taken to facilitate effective communication and adherence to the established procedures for trademark registration.

What is trademark examination process in Japan ?

During the regular examination process, which can take up to 12 months, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) scrutinizes the application documents to ensure they meet all necessary requirements. The examiner reviews both formal and substantive aspects of the application. In cases where essential documents are missing or required sections are incomplete, the JPO issues an invitation to correct the data. Failure to respond to this notice or unsuccessful arguments or amendments may lead to the issuance of a refusal decision by the JPO.

For those seeking a faster process, the accelerated examination option is available, taking up to 10 months. This system allows the JPO to conduct expedited examinations based on specific requirements and requests from applicants who have urgent needs to acquire trademark rights. This service is offered at no additional cost, and applicants can assess their eligibility for accelerated examination.

Furthermore, the fast-track examination expedites the process even further, completing within 6 months. Eligibility for this examination is automatic if all designated goods or services in the trademark application align with those listed in the Examination Guidelines for Similar Goods and Services, the Regulation for Enforcement of the Trademark Act, or the Nice Classification. Applicants are encouraged to confirm their eligibility for the fast-track examination to take advantage of this accelerated timeline.

Typically, a response to the Notification of Reasons of Refusal must be filed within three months from the mailing date. If needed, an extension of one month can be requested to provide additional time for the response. While amendments to the descriptions of goods and/or services are allowed, it’s important to note that modifications to the actual trademark itself are not permitted during this stage of the process.

Once the examiner concludes that there are no grounds to reject the application or if the applicant successfully addresses and overcomes any reasons for objection, the JPO will issue a registration decision. Following this decision, the issuance of a trademark registration certificate is contingent upon the payment of registration fees, typically taking approximately one month.

The formal establishment of a trademark registration takes effect only upon completion of the registration process by the JPO. This final step solidifies the legal recognition and protection of the trademark. In essence, the certificate of trademark registration serves as official documentation confirming the successful registration of the trademark and signifies the commencement of its formal legal status in accordance with the decision made by the Japan Patent Office.

How to Renew/Maintain a Japanese trademark?

Term of a trademark right in Japan extends over a 10-year period, commencing from the date of registration. To ensure uninterrupted protection, trademark holders must initiate the renewal process by submitting a renewal request six months before the expiration of the trademark right. Alongside the renewal request, the corresponding renewal fee must be promptly paid.

This proactive approach enables trademark owners to uphold their exclusive rights to the trademark beyond the initial 10-year term. Adhering to the renewal requirements and timely payment of fees allows trademark holders to extend the protection of their trademarks, preserving their brand identity and intellectual property in the Japanese market.

It’s noteworthy that one can pay the registration fee and the renewal fees in two installments: one covering the first five years and the other for the subsequent five years. However, opting for installment payments results in higher overall fees compared to a lump-sum payment.

Trademark holders should carefully consider their financial strategy, balancing the convenience of spreading costs over time with the potential savings associated with a one-time payment. This information provides clarity on managing trademark rights in Japan, empowering trademark owners to make well-informed decisions regarding the financial aspects of maintaining their intellectual property.

How much does it cost to trademark a brand in Japan?

The cost of registering a trademark can vary based on several factors, including the type of application, the number of classes for which protection is sought, and whether any additional services, such as accelerated examination, are utilized. Here are some general cost considerations for the registration:

Basic Filing Fee: The basic filing fee for a trademark application in one class typically ranges from ¥22,500 to ¥34,500.
Additional Class Fees: If protection is sought in multiple classes, an additional fee is usually required for each additional class.
Expedited Examination Fees: While the standard examination period is around 12 months, expedited examination services may be available for free or at an additional cost.
Renewal Fees: Renewal fees are due every 10 years to maintain the validity of the trademark.
Trademark Attorney Fees: If you choose to hire a trademark attorney to assist with the application process, their fees will be an additional cost.

ipRenewal stands as your reliable partner in delivering comprehensive trademark services, ensuring the protection and currency of your invaluable intellectual property (IP) assets within the intricate landscape of Japanese law. Our specialized team is dedicated to guiding businesses through the application for trademark register, offering a seamless experience tailored to meet distinct demands. From conducting a thorough trademark search to navigating the complexities of the Japanese trademark system, ipRenewal’s experts provide a full spectrum of services aimed at obtaining and fortifying your trademark rights.

Recognizing the paramount importance of timely trademark renewals, ipRenewal’s efficient and well-organized procedures empower businesses to meet deadlines and preserve the validity of their trademarks in accordance with Japanese law. With a sharp focus on compliance and precision, we strive to provide unparalleled service quality, giving our clients the assurance that their IP portfolios are under the care of capable hands. Whether addressing acts of infringement or ensuring the renewal of a trademark right, ipRenewal is well-equipped to navigate the Japanese legal framework.

Moreover, ipRenewal offers a cost-effective alternative for filing and processing your trademark registrations in Japan, delivering superior value without compromising quality. Our services not only ensure compliance with legal requirements but also offer significant cost advantages compared to traditional methods. By choosing ipRenewal, businesses can optimize their budget for international trademark registrations, including through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), while receiving efficient and reliable services. Trust us to provide a cost-efficient solution aligned with your intellectual property protection needs in Japan and beyond.

For Drafting, Applications and Litigation
Contact Us

For Renewals Click Here…

Official website of the patent office in Japan Click Here…

Page top