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1.Outline of the Third-party Observation System

(1)Timeliness of Submission

The JPO accepts a third-party observation at any time after a patent application or an application for utility model registration is filed, even after a decision is made to grant a patent or utility model registration.

(2)A Person who can file a Third-party Observation

Any person can file a third-party observation. Submission on an anonymous basis is permitted.*

* If the person filing a third-party observation prefers submission on an anonymous basis, please fill “n/a” in the column of “Address or Residence” and “Name or Corporate Name” in the prescribed form for third-party observation (see 2. (1) of this page and the remark item 5 of Form No. 20 annexed to the Implementing Regulations of the Patent Act). In this case, the person filing the observation cannot receive a feedback notifying the progress in the utilization of such observations.

(3)Reasons for Refusal or Invalidation that can be bases for Third-party Observations

Among reasons for refusal or invalidation stipulated in the Patent Act, the JPO accepts observations from third parties on account of the following provisions:

  • Article 17bis, Paragraph 3 (Addition of New Matter);
  • Body Text of Article 29, Paragraph 1 (Patentable Subject Matter or Lack of Industrial Applicability);
  • Article 29, Paragraph 1 (Lack of Novelty);
  • Article 29, Paragraph 2 (Lack of Inventive Step);
  • Article 29bis (Secret Prior Art);
  • Article 39, Paragraphs 1 to 4 (Prior Application / Double Patenting);
  • Article 36, Paragraph 4, Item 1 (Violation of Enablement Requirement);
  • Article 36, Paragraph 6, Items 1 to 3 (Violation of Description Requirement for Claims); and
  • Article 36bis, Paragraph 2 (Addition of New Matter as to the Original Text).

With respect to other reasons for refusal or invalidation stipulated in the Patent Act, namely, those prescribed in Articles 25, 32 and 37, etc., they cannot be bases for third-party observations (see Paragraph 1 of Article 13bis of the Implementing Regulations of the Patent Act).

(4)Evidences to be included in Third-party Observations

Third-party observations must be filed in writing. Any other forms of submission (e.g., video tape) are not accepted.

Permitted forms of supporting evidences include:

  • Publications or their copies;
  • Copies of specifications or drawings of a patent application or an application for utility model registration; and
  • Certifying documents such as experiment reports, etc.

<Additional Instruction: If a third-party observation is based on information made available through electronic means such as the Internet>

In case a third-party observation is based on information made available through electronic means such as the Internet, it is requested that its hard copy be submitted including the following information:

  • Contents of information and the date of posting;
  • URL address from which such information has been obtained; and
  • Contact details about such information in case of inquiry.

It is preferable that a certification is attached which has been prepared by a person who is authorized or responsible for the posting, maintenance, etc., of such information.

[Last updated 7 April 2017]

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Examination Standards Office,

Administrative Affairs Division,

Japan Patent Office

E-mail:PA2A10@jpo.go.jp