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Report on the “Patent Practical and Tailored Training Program (PPTT) ”

Patent Practical and Tailored Training Program for Fiscal Year 2013 September 17 (Tue) to November 29 (Fri), 2013

Trainee Trainee Trainee Trainee Trainee

Two patent examiners from India and three from Brazil participated in the 5th Patent Practical and Tailored Training Program (PPTT), which took place over a period of 11 weeks.

Representing the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) of Brazil were Mr. Alexandre Gomes Ciancio, a patent examiner responsible for the field of telecommunications, Mr. Edi de Oliveira Braga Junio, a patent examiner responsible for the field of textiles, and Mr. Francisco Fabio Cavalcante Barros, a patent examiner responsible for the field of packaging.

The Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM) of the Indian patent office has four offices in the north, south, east, and west of India. Representing the CGPDTM were Mr. Ambigapathy Visanam Appusamy, the patent examiner responsible for the field of physics at the Chennai office, and Mr. Mangesh Laxmanrao Mokashi, the patent examiner responsible for the field of pharmaceuticals at the Mumbai office.

First phase (September 17 to October 16)

During the orientation meeting on the morning of September 17, the trainees seemed nervous and awkward. However, by the time the afternoon sessions started following lunch, they seemed more relaxed and comfortable and began interacting with JPO and APIC staff members to a greater degree. It did not take long for the trainees to become friends, regularly interacting with each other during breaks and going sightseeing together in Tokyo after class and during holidays.

On September 18, the trainees gave country-specific presentations. They later mentioned that these presentations helped them understand the current situation and issues related to the patent examination systems in their respective countries. Some commented that not only did their understanding of the IP environment in the other country represented in the group grow deeper, but so did their understanding of it in their own country.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

On September 19, they joined the JPO/IPR Training Course for Patent Experts trainees in visiting the JPO. They were given a chance to see the examiners’ terminals in the trial rooms and the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (INPIT), and paid a courtesy call on Mr. Kosuke Minami, Director, Regional Cooperation Office, International Cooperation Division, Policy Planning and Coordination Department, the Japan Patent Office.

Group photo

Group photo

After the visit, the trainees took part in a thorough, three-phase training program at the APIC.

In the first phase, the trainees presented pre-training reports and explained their job responsibilities as patent examiners and related issues. They also discussed their expectations for this training program. The pre-training activities also included study of the basics of Japanese IP law and Japan’s national IP strategy, the Patent Act, and the Utility Model Act, etc. to establish a basic foundation concerning patent examination.

For example, in the class entitled "Outline of the Patent Act and the Utility Model Act," the trainees studied the Japanese Utility Model Act. Some trainees had chosen the future introduction of a utility model system in their own country as their research topic. The trainees actively exchanged views with the instructor with regard to the old and new Japanese utility model systems and the development of the current system.

After that, the trainees studied the Japanese examination guidelines in detail by discussing theoretical ideas such as industrial applicability, novelty, inventive step, identity, and amendment. The trainees commented that they wanted to study the similarities and differences between the Japanese system and their own countries' systems and improve the quality of their examinations by emulating the merits of the Japanese system. They studied the field-specific examination guidelines applicable to such fields as computer software, biology, and pharmaceuticals. Although the trainees sometimes found it difficult to understand lectures concerning technical fields in which they were not specialized, they applied their respective expertise in helping each other actively participate in class.

General lectures as well as industry-specific lectures were given with regard to IP management by Japanese private companies. Representatives from the IP departments of famous Japanese companies including Astellas Pharma, Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Hitachi, Ltd, and Suntory Holdings Limited, explained product development and the exercise, management, and use of IP rights. The trainees also visited and were given a tour of Terumo Corporation, during which they learned about its technology and IP management system.

On October 11, the trainees visited the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), one of the Japan's leading research institutions, to learn about its IP activities. They were given a tour of the science square and the Geological Museum as well as the Space Dome of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). These activities were very popular among the trainees because they afforded an opportunity to see the history of scientific development in Japan and Japan's current strategy in promoting technology transfer first hand. It also gave them a chance to have a hands-on experience involving the relationship between R&D and IP management. The weather was beautiful, and the trainees were able to relax and recharge amid the natural beauty of Tsukuba.

Group photo

Group photo

Second phase (October 17 to November 15)

In the second phase, advanced training was provided using actual IP-related cases having to do with the Japanese Patent Examination Guidelines studied during the first phase. The trainees visited a number of companies and institutions, including the Intellectual Property High Court, Soken Chemical & Engineering Co., Ltd., and Thomson Reuters Professional KK. Two years ago, a different group of trainees requested visits to small and midsize companies. As a result, such visits were added to the curriculum last year. During their visit to the Intellectual Property High Court, the trainees observed a trial and attended a lecture and Q&A session by the Chief Judge of the IP High Court of Japan . By touring the courtroom, offices, and other facilities, the trainees had a more concrete picture of Japanese judicial practices.

Furthermore, during the second phase of the training program, many classes were held in the APIC computer lab in order to give trainees practice in conducting searches using databases such as the IPDL and the AIPI and various patent classification systems such as the FI/F Term. Mr. Hiroshi Kato a Patent Attorney with Aoyama & Partners, taught a general search practice course in which he asked the trainees to answer questions he posed and also explained the various Japanese systems not covered by other classes in detail. The trainees found Mr. Kato's class very beneficial. During their visit to the Industrial Property Cooperation Center (IPCC), they expressed a great deal of interest in the classification and patent search outsourcing systems as means of improving the efficiency of patent examinations. They actively exchanged opinions with regard to the appropriateness of such systems for their own respective countries.

Third phase (November 18 to November 29)

The third phase began approximately two months after the commencement of the training program. On November 25, staff from the Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA) and the IP departments of JIPA member companies were invited to participate in a discussion session. JIPA answered the trainees’ questions about Japanese companies, and the trainees gave answers to questions they had received in advance from Japanese companies which they obtained using the INPI and the CGPDTM. This was an extremely important experience in enabling the trainees to directly understand the perspective of Japanese companies with regard to the patent systems of Brazil and India. The participants used this precious opportunity not only to deepen their mutual understanding of their IP systems but also to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls Japanese companies may experience when expanding their businesses in Brazil and India in the future.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

Furthermore, in the third phase, the trainees joined the participants in the WIPO/JF "High Level Examination Course" training program and learned about actual cases directly from JPO examiners. The JPO examiners also provided on-the-job training while working in cooperation with the trainees. This resulted in a series of practical, information-packed classes for the trainees. The trainees were able to learn about the approach and know-how of the Japanese examiners and strengthen their ties with trainee patent examiners from other countries through a discussion session after the joint training classes.

In the last class of this training curriculum, the trainees learned about trial proceedings in detail, including the systems for requesting a JPO advisory opinion, requesting a trial challenging an examiner's decision, and requesting a trial for invalidation.

On the last day (November 29 (Fri)), the trainees gave final presentations on what they learned from this training program and how they intended to make use of it after returning to their home countries. The trainees expressed their determination to make use of their newly-acquired knowledge in their respective patent offices. They mentioned which Japanese policies most impressed them. For example, one trainee commented that the Japanese system of outsourcing prior art searches to the IPCC in the pre-examination stage is very efficient and effective in fully utilizing IP human resources (such as former examiners), and expressed the hope of introducing a similar system in his home country. Another trainee expressed a desire to introduce various systems presented during the training program, such as the PPH and the AIPN, in order to help address a patent examination backlog. Furthermore, the trainees presented concrete future plans for the use of their newly-obtained knowledge about the IPDL and the F Term in patent examinations in their home countries and for conveying the knowledge to younger examiners in order to expedite examination proceedings.

The trainees were then asked to evaluate the training program and exchange opinions with the JPO and the APIC for the purpose of improving the 11-week small-group training program in which they had just participated.

The trainees gave very high marks to the incremental approach used in this training program. They also commented that they were especially interested in the classes on the F-term search method, examination acceleration systems such as the PPH and the AIPN, and the on-the-job training provided by examiners.

At the same time, they recommended such improvements as the introduction of longer OJT training, easy-to-understand explanations for actual cases that are outside the trainees' expertise, and individual training for trainees according to their expertise. In general, while the trainees found the visits to companies useful, some requested the inclusion of agriculture- or food-related companies. Furthermore, the Indian trainees commented that as universities are leaders in technological development in India, they would like more opportunities to learn about IP management by Japanese universities. Their opinions will be taken into consideration when the curriculum for next year’s training is prepared.

After the evaluation meeting, we held a closing ceremony in which Mr. Kunihisa Ito, Director of the JPO’s Policy Planning and Central Cooperation Division of the Policy Planning and Coordination Department, handed a certificate to each trainee. Mr. Mokashi gave a speech expressing the appreciation of all of the trainees. This ceremony marked the end of the 11-week training program.

Group photo

Group photo

This training program is the longest small-group training program offered. Most of the teachers are examiners or former examiners kind enough to offer their time to provide specialized, detailed knowledge to the trainees. Most classes took the form of discussions thanks to the many relevant questions asked by the trainees. The teachers were impressed that the trainees not only learned about the Japanese systems but also compared the legal systems of Brazil and India and deepened their mutual understanding through discussions between the teachers and the trainees.

After the weekday classes and on weekends, the trainees enjoyed visiting various places in Japan. Since this training program was relatively long, the trainees were able to form friendships with trainees participating in other courses.

After completing the training, the trainees were able to return to their home countries having enjoyed a positive experience. We hope that they find their experiences in Japan useful in their future careers.


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