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General Speech at the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a new Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning Industrial Designs by the Japanese Government
June 16, 1999
First Examination Department
Japanese Patent Office
Thank you Mr./Madam President. On behalf of the Japanese delegation,
I would like to state that it is a pleasure for us to welcome you as the President
of this important conference. I am convinced that this conference will be successful
under your guidance.
The Japanese economy, which represents 16% of the world's economy, is still in
a severe condition though an upturn is forecasted. As the result of having taken
measures to deal with the situation by supporting the demand-side of the economy
over the past two years, the decline has stopped and positive growth is expected.
The Japanese Government is taking steps which involve supporting the supply-side,
especially by regenerating industry: this should mean that Japan will begin contributing
to the growth of the world economy from the latter half of this year.
I believe that it is very important for the growth of the world's economy to make
it easy for applicants to freely obtain intellectual property rights in foreign
countries. Toward this end, every country should adopt a pro-patent policy, and
any person in the world should be able to make use of an international registration
system in which WIPO plays a central role. With this in mind, Japan decided to
join the Madrid Protocol, an agreement concerning the international registration
of trademarks. This decision was ratified by the Diet on May 14, 1999, and Japan
will formally become Party to the Madrid Protocol next January.
|In the area of industrial designs, I am convinced that Japan's accession to the
Hague Agreement will lead to the realization of an international registration
system for industrial designs, and that it will go a long way toward the revitalization
of the world's economy. The number of applications submitted to Japan in each
year is approximately 40,000. This represents a quarter of all the design applications
in the world and 35% of applications in countries which conduct substantive examinations.
If Japan joins the New Act of the Hague Agreement, it will have a huge and beneficial
impact on the international field of design registrations.
However, even if Japan wishes to become a member of an international registration
system in which WIPO plays a central role and wishes to contribute toward the
development of the world's economy, we will not be able to put this plan into
practice without the understanding of the present members of the Hague Agreement
such as the European countries. Some countries conduct a substantive examination
of design applications and others do not; in addition, there are some other types
of systems for design rights in the world. The flexible and considerate acceptance
by each country of this variety of systems is the key to increasing the membership
of the international registration system.
For Japan, there are two main problem areas in the draft New
Act of the Hague Agreement. The first is common to the countries outside Europe.
There exists a language problem in Japan and other Asian countries, in that the
nationals of these countries have difficulty in using English. If even applications
by Japanese residents seeking protection within Japan are applied for via the
Hague route, this will mean that the Japanese Patent Office may receive some 40,000
internal applications in English each year. The result may be that it becomes
impossible for us to conduct the requisite examinations. We therefore hope for
the introduction into the New Act of an optional provision enabling the prohibition
The second problem area is common to the countries whose Offices
conduct substantive examinations. We hope for amendments to some provisions with
respect to the issues of fees, statement of acceptance of the effect of international
registrations, the submission of an opinion against a refusal as a remedy, publication
6 months after registration, and the treatment of the separate transfer of related
design rights, in order to achieve harmonization with the systems of examining
Finally, Japan is starting an on-line design application system by using personal
computers in January 2000. In addition, from March this year we began the publication
via the Internet of 40 million intellectual property rights information that have
been accumulated at the JPO. I strongly believe that, subject to WIPO's immediate
introduction of computer technology to the international registration system,
the adoption of the New Act of the Hague Agreement will bring about an increase
in the efficiency of the international registration system and a global expansion
in the use of electronic information on design rights.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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