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Report on the “JPO/IPR Training Course for Advanced IP Protection Practitioners”

The 2nd JPO/IPR Training Course for IPR Protection Practitioners was held for three weeks from June 30 to July 17, 2014.

This annual training course is intended to provide participants with an opportunity to deepen their comprehensive understanding of, and thus enhance their expertise in, IPR-related practical tasks through lectures and discussions on intellectual property management techniques, intellectual property laws, practical operations involved in patent and trademark applications, etc. Participating in this year's training course was a total of 27 trainees from 11 countries including Brazil, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In general, the participants work at corporate enterprises and law firms and are involved in prior art searches, filing of patent/trademark applications, responses to rights infringement, and external affairs such as negotiations for licensing agreements, as well as at universities and other institutions where they deliver lectures on and provide business training in intellectual property.

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With its main focus on practice with patents and trademarks, the course curriculum included lectures on know-how management under the Design Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and actual examples of IP management at corporate enterprises. In addition to classroom lectures, it included PC-based exercises in database searches using IPDL, etc., which the participants found very useful and informative. The trainees enthusiastically attended many of the lectures, trying to find solutions to business problems at work and learn new things.

In the Q&A session following each lecture, the trainees actively asked the lecturers questions without interruption - a shining display of their enthusiasm to learn. The lecturers were uniformly impressed by the high level of questions asked, which they felt showed that the trainees had gained a good understanding of the lecture content.

On July 11, a study tour of Surpass Industry Co., Ltd. took place. With last year's study tour resulting from our full-scale investigation of the possibility of visiting smaller enterprises and venture businesses, Surpass Industry Co., as the winner of the Economy, Trade and Industry Minister's Recognition (as a selected enterprise exhibiting the best use of intellectual property rights) and one of the 50 best listings of case examples of best uses of intellectual property rights, served as the host company. The visit met with a very favorable reception. Since the company kindly agreed to serve as host company again this year, the study tour of the company was realized for a second year in a row.

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During their visit, the trainees received a concrete explanation of the company's IP strategy with use of actual examples and product samples, followed by a factory tour through which they could gain firsthand knowledge of how a Japanese company manages its intellectual properties. They asked a wide variety of questions, from the financial implications of intellectual property to joint-development, licensing and countermeasures against disputes. One trainee commented, "I found the study tour very useful and informative in that it gave me an understanding of how a Japanese company puts its patents and portfolios of IP rights to practical use while viewing the production line at the site."

In the wrap-up discussion that took place on the morning of the final day of the program, the trainees were divided into two groups to debate a dispute between two parties. Because the trainees were informed of the case at the start of the program, they were able to prepare for the session in advance. A wide variety of questions were presented by the trainees, including: "What is the subject matter of the case?", "Does the subject invention have novelty and/or inventive steps?", and "Are the prior user's rights claimable?" This generated a very lively discussion. The wrap-up discussion met with a very favorable reception, and a variety of feedback was received from the trainees, including: "Discussion of the case between the two sides gave me a comprehensive understanding of the case and problems involved", "I found it very interesting and useful in verifying a comprehensive understanding of lectures I had heard so far", and "It really impressed me how it provided trainees with an opportunity to share with one another their past experiences in, and knowledge and skills of, protecting intellectual properties gained and learned at work".

At the evaluation meeting, a lot of feedback was received from the trainees, including: "I was able to achieve my goal early in the program", and "I would like to put the knowledge and lessons learned from the program to practical use after I return home." We look forward to seeing them act on what they have learned and expand their communication networks.

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