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Home > About JPO > Commissioner´s Message > 2017 New Year’s Message by Yoshinori Komiya, JPO Commissioner

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2017 New Year’s Message by Yoshinori Komiya, JPO Commissioner

After four years of Abenomics, Japan's gross national income has increased by nearly 44 trillion yen and many companies operating in the country have earned record high ordinary incomes. Although there is still a long path ahead for Japan, Abenomics has produced steady results so far. To accelerate this momentum even further; however, it is essential to speed up "investments for the future" by taking all possible measures. The Government of Japan has set forth a target of “Promoting Intellectual Property/Standardization Strategies to Succeed in Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution)” in its Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016. To meet this goal, intellectual property rights systems are expected to play increasingly important roles in converting technological innovations into industrial and social advances and in promoting investments for the future. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) will do its utmost to provide even better intellectual property rights systems in Japan, placing special emphasis on the following three priority policies:

Firstly, we will work to construct a new intellectual property framework with a view to Industry 4.0.

This fourth industrial revolution, which is driving the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), will bring about many transformations. More and more things will be connected to the Internet, while the processing power and storage capacity of computers will continue to be increased, resulting in dramatic increases in the amounts of data that can be used per second. Such data, and the technology to analyze such data, along with data-based business models, are expected not only to become major sources of competitive advantages for many companies, serving as important intellectual property, but also to bring about socioeconomic innovations. In cooperation with other related authorities, the JPO established the Intellectual Property System Study Group for Industry 4.0 in October 2016, consisting of experts from industry and academia.

There is a growing demand in the industrial sector for a more supportive landscape to ensure appropriate protection and utilization of intellectual property in the areas of data and data-related technology to facilitate capital and R&D investments in these areas. Taking this need seriously and working under the aim of revising systems and operations involving standards, intellectual property, and data, in a way to adapt them better to the new industrial structure, the JPO and other relevant authorities will make full efforts to produce effective study results, so that we can provide a constructive interim report towards the end of this year.

Secondly, we will endeavor to establish a more globally oriented intellectual property system.

As corporate business activities are becoming increasingly globalized, the number of patent filings from Japan to overseas is growing. In addition, we are receiving more requests from companies that are aiming to obtain patents not only in Japan but also in several other countries, asking us to help them acquire rights as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

Another common request by Japanese corporations operating in emerging countries is for the JPO to use its influence so that more effective intellectual property systems can be established and properly managed in their respective business locations, to ensure that their intellectual property activities run smoothly in those countries.

In response to such demands from the industrial sector, the JPO has been working to expand the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), which is a program that provides accelerated patent prosecution procedures based on sharing JPO’s examination results. Also, at the same time, Japan has been promoting harmonization, with major countries such as the U.S. and nations in the EU, China and South Korea, in their respective systems and operations. Meanwhile, we have also been providing support to establish more effective systems and operations in emerging countries by sending experts from the JPO to these countries and welcoming related officials from these countries for training in Japan. In fact, I went to Geneva myself this past October and participated in eight unofficial meetings and 20 bilateral meetings alongside the WIPO General Assembly. In these meetings, I had discussions with representatives from developed, emerging, and developing countries.

The JPO will continue to strive to improve the worldwide landscape for intellectual property activities by Japanese corporations operating globally, in terms of supporting their business activities.

Thirdly, we will provide support for intellectual property activities by local communities and small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to the growth strategy of Abe's cabinet, increasing the productivity of SMEs and revitalizing local economies are urgent policy issues. In response to these, the JPO renewed its commitment to further enhancing its role in providing support to local communities and SMEs. For example, after deliberations at the Industrial Structure Council ended, the JPO developed its “Action Plan for Promoting Regional Intellectual Property,” releasing it last September as a basic guideline governing the support efforts.

This plan stipulates that carefully designed, customized support should be provided to individual SMEs across Japan through partnership between the Comprehensive IP Support Service Counters and Yorozu Support Centers, which have been operated by the JPO and Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, respectively, in the 47 prefectures of the country. This will enable SMEs to receive closely tailored support services that reflect the different needs of different regions and different stages of business development, such as acquisition, utilization and protection of intellectual property rights.

In more specific terms, actual support will be provided based on the principles of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle; separate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be set for individual prefectures to reflect the different realities of the respective regions; progress will be monitored each year, and the policies and actions will be reviewed and improved accordingly. In the course of this, we will also promote intellectual property activities across every corner of Japan while sharing pioneering cases, thereby contributing to the growth potential of the country, revitalizing local communities, and facilitating the sharing of best practices of pioneers.

There is one more thing to add about revitalizing local communities: The Headquarters for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan, a council led by the government, has decided that the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (INPIT) should open a Kinki regional headquarters in Osaka City next year.

At present, specifics are being discussed to successfully open the headquarters. This Kinki headquarters is expected to act as a general support center for intellectual property activities. The center will not only provide professional guidance and advice to companies on licensing, open-close strategies, and business expansion into overseas markets, and liaison with the Japan Patent Attorneys Association, Yorozu Support Centers, financial institutions, universities, and so on, but also offer venues for on-site interview for examinations and interviews through video conferencing that are given by the JPO.

The world is undergoing remarkably rapid transformation. Economic, industrial and social innovations are inevitable also in Japan. In times such as these, inventions and intellectual property will continue to grow in importance. This year, as every year, I look forward to your continued understanding and support of intellectual property administration, and I wish you good health and further success in 2017.

January 1, 2017
Yoshinori Komiya
JPO Commissioner

[Last updated 6 January 2017]