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Report on the “Patent Practical and Tailored Training Program”

Completion of the Patent Practical and Tailored Training Program for Fiscal 2014 Tuesday, September 16 – Friday, November 28, 2014

Trainee Trainee Trainee Trainee Trainee Trainee

The sixth edition of the JPO/IPR Patent Practical and Tailored Program (PPTT) was held for a period of 11 weeks with the participation of two Brazilian and four Indian patent examiners.

In the program, INPI (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial), the Brazilian agency of industrial property, was represented by Ms. Karla Consort Ribeiro (1), specializing in bioengineering, and Ms. Viviane Gomes Almeida (2), specializing in architectural engineering.

From the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM), the Indian Patent Office, which has four domestic offices in the northern, southern, eastern, and western parts of the country, Mr. Manivasakam Marimuthu Ramaswamy (4), who specializes in metallurgy at the Chennai office; Ms. Rajni Bala (5), specializing in applied physics at the Delhi office; Dr. Seema, who broadly specializes in chemistry; and Mr. Susanta Das, who specializes in chemistry with focus on rubber engineering, participated in the program.

First Step (September 16 – October 14)

On September 16, an orientation was provided on the morning of Day 1. The training participants seemed somewhat nervous and awkward at first. However, as time passed and the lecture progressed, they gradually became more relaxed both among themselves and with the JPO and APIC staff. During breaks and after the lectures, the trainees were seen engaging in casual and serious discussions. Later, as the program progressed, they even began to spend time together on days off, enjoying sight-seeing and shopping together.

On September 17, Country Report Presentations were delivered, in which the trainees reported on the situations of patent examination in their respective countries and presented issues they face. JPO lectures and JIPA personnel also attended the presentations, actively asking questions about the IP situation and concrete patent cases in the trainees' countries. The trainees repeated discussions among themselves in a question-and-answer style, coming up with new questions about the IP situation in their countries and deepening their understanding in the process.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

On September 18, the PPTT participants took a study tour to JPO together with JPO/IPR special patent course trainees. They visited the patent court and observed patent examiner terminal units at the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (INPIT). They also paid a courtesy call to Mr. Yoshitake MIHARA, Deputy Commissioner of JPO.

>Group photo

Group photo

Following these preliminary activities, the main part of the training program commenced at APIC. The training progressed in three steps.

Firstly, in the Pre-training Report Presentations, the trainees discussed the contents and problems of their own examining duties and what they expected from the program. As an introduction to the training, the participants learned about the Japanese IP system, including the Intellectual Property Basic Act, Japan's national IP strategy, and the Patent and Utility Model Law, etc. as basic knowledge concerning patent examination.

In the session "Outline of Patent and Utility Model Law," the participants learned about this Japanese law, actively exchanging opinions on old and new utility models in Japan and developments that had taken place thus far. They seemed deeply impressed. The trainees from India said that there was no utility model system in their country at the moment but that they hoped to study the possibility of adopting a similar system in the future and make recommendations to that end. Following this, the theoretical concepts of industrially applicable invention, novelty, inventiveness, identity, amendments, etc. of the Japanese Examination Guidelines were studied in detail. The training participants said that the lectures enabled them to understand the differences and similarities between the systems in Japan and their country. They also expressed their hope to adopt positive aspects of the Japanese system into their own to improve the quality of their examinations. With respect to area-specific examination guidelines, computer software, life science, medicine and pharmacology were covered. The trainees had some difficulty understanding subjects that were not their areas of specialization. However, they helped each other, with those well-versed in a specific subject explaining it to the others, thereby further enlivening the lectures.

Regarding Corporate IPR Management, the lectures covered corporate IPR management in Japan in general, as well as area-specific situations. IP personnel from such companies as Astellas Pharma Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., and Suntory Holdings Limited served as lecturers. The trainees learned about product development and IPR implementation, management and utilization. The trainees also visited Terumo Medical Pranex, Terumo Corporation's research facility, where they learned about Terumo's technology and the IPR management supporting it.

On October 10, the program participants visited the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), one of Japan's representative research institutions. There, they learned about AIST's IP-related activities and visited its Science Square and Geological Museum. The discussions extended to AIST's collaboration with private businesses, technological transfers, and international projects including collaboration with research centers in India and Brazil, which interested the trainees a great deal. They appreciated this visit since it provided them with the opportunity to observe firsthand how R&D and IP were interconnected. Incidentally, it was a beautiful fine day, and the visit to Tsukuba, situated in a rich natural environment, proved quite beneficial for the trainees. They were able to recharge themselves.

Second Step (October 15 – November 14)

The trainees engaged in practical exercises on the application of the Japanese Examination Guidelines in actual cases. Based on the knowledge they acquired in the First Step lectures, they examined actual cases, presented their views, and repeated discussions, thereby further deepening their understanding.

In the Second Step, the program participants visited various IP-related organizations, such as Soken Chemical & Engineering Co., Ltd., the Intellectual Property High Court, the Japan Patent Information Organization (JAPIO), Thomson Reuters, and the Industrial Property Cooperation Center (IPCC).

During the visit to Soken Chemical & Engineering, the trainees seemed extremely interested in the company's business management strategy of making use of IP and in-house IP-related human resource training, and actively asked questions. At the Intellectual Property High Court, they listened to a trial and a lecture by the Chief Judge, followed by a question-and-answer session. They also visited the court and offices to personally experience Japan's court in action. At JAPIO and IPCC, the trainees learned about the mechanism of outsourcing classification and surveys related to examinations. In a lively exchange of opinions, the trainees voiced many views that revealed their positive attitude toward adopting a similar system in their countries to increase the operational efficiency of examinations. At Thomson Reuters, they confirmed firsthand the utility of technical information search tools. They asked various questions, eager to improve the quality of their examining duties.

The lectures included many practical exercises in searches, using IPDL, AIPN and other databases in the PC room at APIC and patent classification approaches such as FI/F-term. Dr. Hiroshi KATO, Patent Attorney from Aoyama & Partners, conducted overall practical exercises in searches, getting the trainees to work on his original cases and explaining Japan's systems in more detail. The trainees highly appreciated Dr. Kato's knowledge.

On the last day of the Second Step, a discussion meeting was held with the participation of IP personnel from corporations affiliated with Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA) and the JIPA secretariat. After introductions, the trainees asked questions about Japanese corporations, to which JIPA responded. The trainees also contributed by responding, on behalf of the Brazilian or Indian patent authorities, to questions that had been submitted in advance. The discussions that followed the questions and answers covered a wide range of themes, from specialized ones concerning individual provisions of the patent law of each country and disputes to future prospects for IP systems in their countries.

The meeting proved a highly valuable experience for the trainees in which they were able to directly learn the views that Japanese corporations held regarding the Brazilian and Indian patent systems.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

Third Step (November 17 – 28)

The training program reached the Third Step about two months after it commenced. The content of the Third Step training was highly practical, including case studies together with WIPO/JF advanced examination training course participants and on-the-job training with JPO examiners in the field. These activities allowed the trainees to learn the Japanese examiners' ways of thinking and know-how and, through exchange of opinions in joint lectures, meet and build friendly ties with trainees from countries other than Brazil and India.

The trainees completed the entire training curriculum with trial practices, covering decisions, appeals against refusals, and patent invalidation.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

On the final day, Friday, November 28, the trainees gave presentations to conclude their training results.

The trainees talked about what they had learned in the program and how they wished to make use of it in their respective positions. They referred to specific Japanese policy measures that impressed them during the program, discussing which aspects of them could be incorporated into the IP systems in consideration of the situations in their countries, analyzing what they themselves and their organizations should do to that end. They further exchanged views with JPO personnel and lecturers, deepening their ideas.

For the JPO and APIC personnel who served as lecturers, the training program was also a precious experience in that it allowed them to observe how the trainees had assimilated their learning and how their perspective and awareness evolved through the program compared to the First-Step Country Report and Pre-training Report Presentations and later discussions.

scenery at the training

scenery at the training

An Evaluation Meeting was held among the JPO and APIC personnel and the trainees to discuss how this 11-week, small-group training program could be further improved.

Regarding the overall curriculum, the trainees highly evaluated the program's approach to training, that is, learning in stages. On the other hand, it was also pointed out that it would be necessary to effectuate more detailed coordination among subjects and lecturers since the three-month program with a large number of lecturers had many overlaps in its content.

The subjects that particularly interested the trainees included the lectures and practical exercises in the Examination Guidelines, corporate IRP management, F-term and search tactics, PPH and AIPN and other systems for rapid examinations, and OJT with examiners.

Areas for improvement pointed out by the trainees included a longer period for OJT and the adoption of trainees' areas of specialization for cases studies, which could be conducted individually, because doing case studies in unfamiliar areas could be difficult. The two lectures that were introduced this year in response to feedback from last year's trainees, "Patent Examination Quality Control" and "Paper-free System Work Sharing and IT Tools for it," were very favorably received, and the trainees expressed their strong wish that time would be set aside for lectures and two-way interactive discussions on these themes in subsequent training programs.

The Evaluation Meeting was followed by the Closing Ceremony. Mr. Kunihisa ITO, Director of the International Cooperation Division of Japan Patent Office, presented each trainee with a certificate of training program completion. On behalf of the trainees from Brazil and India, Ms. Karla Consort Ribeiro and Mr. Susanta Das gave speeches of thanks. The two-and-a-half-month-long training program then came to an end.

>Group photo

Group photo

This extremely long invitation training program had a very small number of trainees (six), consequently realizing rich content. Moreover, most of the lecturers were active or former patent examiners who were able to impart highly specialized knowledge in a careful manner. Most lectures proceeded mainly through discussions since all of the trainees asked numerous, highly relevant questions. The lecturers also appreciated the training program: instead of only the trainees' acquiring knowledge about Japan, mutual learning took place, with the lecturers learning from the trainees about the Brazilian and Indian legal systems and comparing them with the Japanese systems, leading to even more active discussions and deepening mutual understanding. Sometimes the discussions extended beyond the IP system to cover political and economic situations in the countries, and everyone shared useful ideas and opinions about what could be done to improve people's lives in the respective countries.

On weekdays after the lectures and on weekends, the trainees visited various parts of Japan and enjoyed themselves. During the long training period, they also met participants in other training programs.

The training program came to its successful close, and the trainees went home in cheerful spirits. They are expected to make great achievements in their respective areas in the future.

 

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