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Home > About JPO > History of Industrial Property Rights > A History of System of Industrial Property Rights

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A History of System of Industrial Property Rights

(1) History of the Patent (New Utility Model) System

Foresighted monarchs and politicians in medieval Europe granted special rights, using a remuneration or an award as a means for this purpose. Needless to say, this should not be interpreted that a secure system could have been created in this manner. This system was apparently born in mediaval Venice and further developed in England.

Venetian Republic

Patents were granted for inventions already in 1443, and the text of the oldest patent law in the world, officially announced as "Inventor Bylaws" was created in 1474.


The text of the patent law, known as "Monopoly Act", was created and the law was enacted in 1624. This law clearly defined basic concepts which are still influencing interpretation of patents to present day.


When America became independent from England, establishing an independent patent system was one of the task facing the country. The constitution of the federation, adopted in 1787, stipulated that ".... in order to promote progress of useful technology and sciences .... the parliament .... shall grant limited exclusive rights for a certain period of time ..... to inventors". The Patent Law was then adopted based on these constitutional provisions in 1790.


The initial Patent Law was enacted in France in 1791. It's special characteristics was the the principle that no examination of any kind was required.


Germany enacted a comprehensive Patent Law which was based on the principle of mandatory examination, the first such system in the world, in 1877.


Turkey adopted the special Patent Law for the protection of inventions in the year 1879 during the Ottoman Emperorship. This law introduced the granting of patents without examination, as containded a French law of 1844.


In Japan, it became clearly apparent that a patent system must be created in order to speed up modernization efforts which began after the start of the Meiji Reform, and the "Patent Monopoly Act" was publically proclaimed in Japan on April 18 of year 18 of the Meiji Era (1885). In addition, the New Utility Model Law was enacted in the year 38 of the Meiji Era (1905) in order to complement the patent system.

Edo Period

Because during the Edo period, there was a tendency to abhor new things, a "Law for New Items" was proclaimed in the year 6 of the Kyoho Era (1721). The purpose of this law was described as "to ensure that absolutely no new types of products would be manufactured".

Provisional Regulations for Monopoly

After the opening of Japan to Western things, the patent system was intrudction from Europe and United States. In year 4 of the Meiji Era (1871), Japan publicly proclaimed its own law, called Provisional Regulations for Monopoly, which was the first patent law in Japan. However, the enforcement of this law was suspended the next year because the people of the country did not understand it well enough at the time to be able to use it, and also because the government office had problems with the operation of this law.

Patent Monopoly Act

Because it soon became apparent again that a patent system is indispensable, the "Patent Monopoly Act" was officially announced thanks to the efforts of the first Patent Office Director Korekiyo Takahashi in year 18 of the Meiji Era. The first patent applied for ws a patent for "Hotta's Method for Rust Stopping Paint and Painting Method", applied for by Zuishou Hotta" on July 1, year 18 of the Meiji Era.

Current Laws Valid Until Present

The patent system was gradually created in the following years. At the same time, the New Utility Model Law was created in year 38 of the Meiji Era. A shift toward emphasis on applications filed earlier rather than on inventions discovered earlier, which was the policy up until this point, started under the Patent Law which was adopted in year 10 of the Taisho Era. This created the foundation on which the current system of patent laws is still based. After that, the patent laws which were adopted in year 10 of the Taisho Era were completely revised in year 34 of the the Showa Era, the advertising system was abolished in year 6 of the Heisei Era, it became possible for application to be received in English and other partial reforms of the patent laws were enacted.

(2) History of the Design System

A legal system protecting designs was for the first time created through an ordinance issued in order to protect ornamental desing of the textile weaving industry by public officials in the French city of Lyon in 1711. The first example of protection of design in Japan are Design Bylaws which were adopted in year 21 of the Meiji Era (1888). There were several revisions of design laws in the following years, and the current Design Law was adopted at the same time when a complete revision of patent laws took place in Japan in year 34 of the Showa eary (1959).


1580, Designers of a new type of design were granted exclusive rights for a period of 2 years to a new type of designs by regulations relating to weaving patterns in the Italian city of Fiorenze in 1787.


Bylaws for protection of designs were enacted in England in 1787. These bylaws determind that exclusive rights whould be granted to woven product designs for a period of 2 months.


Although protection for designs in America starts already in 1842, there was no independent law for designs in the country as the provisions for designs were a part of patent laws.


"Legislation Relating to Designs, or Patterns, or Utility Models" was adopted in Germany in 1876.


The first design was filed in Japan was in year 22 of the Meije Era. It was a design for stripes in textile registered in Ashikaga, prefecture Toshigi, by Yoshibei Sunaga.

(3) History of the Trademark System

The first laws about trademarks were publicly announced in England and America. These laws were enacted for protection against fraud. Laws called "Legislation Relating to Commercial Marks and Product Marks" were enacted for the first time in France in 1857.
The first trademark law was enacted in Japan in year 17 of the Meiji Era, on June 7 (1884), one year before the "Patent Monopoly Act" was adopted. After that, there were several reforms, similar to reforms of patent laws, and the current Trademark Law is the result of a complete revision of trademark laws in year 34 of the Showa Era.

Merchant Marks

Merchant marks were symbols used in medieval Europe in the form of linear diagrams or monograms and similar structures which served mostly to demonstrate territorial rights of merchants.

Production Marks

Production marks were used as a tool persons belonging to guilds in city states in Europe to indicate products manufactured by the guild. The purpose of these marks was to confirm that a person is a qualified craftsman.


After a product mark law was enacted prohibity false indication, a trademark registration law was created in 1875 which clearly defined principles based on prior use.


Comprehensive legislation relating to registration of trademarks was enacted as a federal law for the first time in 1870.


A trademark protection law, which was based on the principle of no examination, was enacted in 1874. It was later modified and the principle of mandatory examination was introduced.


Turkey adopted the special law for the protection of trademarks, named the "Distinctive Signs Act", in the year 1871 during the Ottoman Emperorship. The law introduced the registration of trademarks without examination.

First Trademark in Japan

The first trademark was registered in Japan in year 18 of the Meiji era (1885). It was a trademark for ointments and pills registered by Yuzen Hirai in Kyoto prefecture.