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Home> About JPO> Commissioner's Message> New Year Greetings 2023 - HAMANO Koichi, JPO Commissioner

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New Year Greetings 2023 - HAMANO Koichi, JPO Commissioner

I would like to wish you all a happy new year.

With the effects of COVID-19 still unpredictable, the international community undergoing major changes, and the problem of global warming advancing year by year, our country is facing a state of upheaval. The JPO is responsible for promoting the utilization of industrial property rights, and for granting those rights through examination. As such, we will continue to make steady efforts this year to support the creation of innovation that helps to solve emerging social issues, such as the realization of a carbon-neutral society.
From January through September 2022, the number of applications for patents and trademarks declined by 0.3% and 6.3% respectively, while the number of applications for designs increased by 0.4% compared to the same period in 2021. In developing new businesses, it is becoming increasingly important to integrate the strategies for IP and management. We hope that you will continue to make use of industrial property rights this year, in line with the development of your IP strategy.
Fees were revised as of April 1, 2022 in accordance with the amended Patent Act of 2021, and we truly appreciate your understanding in this regard. The JPO is committed to providing stable, high-quality services, including examinations that boast the world’s fastest and highest quality, while also thoroughly reducing expenditures and firmly tackling systemic reforms and new policy issues. We will additionally continue to reform our operations across the board to further improve operational efficiency and system utilization.

Based on the Action Plan for Utilization of Intellectual Property by Small and Medium Enterprises and Startups, and the Action Plan for Utilization of Intellectual Property by Universities, which were released by the JPO and the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (INPIT) in collaboration with other related agencies in December 2021, INPIT successfully launched an Accelerated Support program in which IP experts are dispatched to accompany SMEs in order to strengthen their intellectual property management. In addition, INPIT enhanced support for regional shopping areas by dispatching regional brand designers.
In the future, INPIT and the regional Bureaus of Economy, Trade and Industry will work together to strengthen IP management support in individual regions in order to further promote the initiatives of the Action Plan.
In addition, INPIT joined a partnership agreement for start-up support organizations commonly known as “Plus”(Platform for Unified Support for Startups), which was launched last November by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as the secretariat. Our cooperation with other governmental agencies has been enhanced through INPIT having joined “Plus”, and the JPO will continue working closely with INPIT to provide further support in this regard.

In June 2022, we also released the Green Transformation Technologies Inventory (GXTI), which provides a comprehensive view of technologies relating to GX, and a method for searching patent documents that disclose GX technologies. Companies are required by the revised Corporate Governance Code (June 2021) to enhance the quality and quantity of their disclosures with regard to the impact of climate change-related risks and profit opportunities on their business activities, earnings, etc. One of the most effective methods of enhancing such disclosure is to analyze patent information, and GXTI can be used for this purpose. Utilizing GXTI, the JPO is also conducting a survey of patent application trends in various countries for GX technology, and the result is planned to be published in May 2023.

Various changes in the business environment have occurred in recent years, including the revitalization of marketing methods using SNS, and the further development of digitalization. In order to support the development of new businesses which utilize intellectual property on the part of SMEs, startups, etc., as well as large enterprises, we consider it necessary to review the IP system in light of these environmental changes. Consequently, three system subcommittees (Patent, Design and Trademark) are currently studying these issues.
In the Patent System Subcommittee, topics including a review of the delivery system, and the digitalization of document procedures, were discussed by experts in order to respond to digitalization and improve user-friendliness.
In the Design System Subcommittee, subjects were discussed that are of high interest to users, such as the easing of procedural requirements regarding the public disclosure of designs before filing design applications (i.e., procedures for applying exceptions to lack of novelty of design).
In the Trademark System Subcommittee, discussions were held regarding topics such as relaxing requirements for the registration of trademarks that include names of another person, and the introduction of a consent system, in which consent by the right holder of a prior registered trademark enables the registration of a similar mark to the prior registered trademark by other party, in response to the issues of trademark system toward developing brand strategy utilizing trademarks.
We will work toward compiling policies in a timely manner on the issues that have been discussed in depth during the appreciable deliberations of the respective committees.
The JPO will also continue to look into the necessary measures to ensure that the industrial property rights system is further utilized within the changing business environment.

In 2022, many international conferences were held on an in-person basis. I have finally had opportunities to attend conferences locally, including the General Assemblies of the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), IP Week attended by IP professionals from over 60 countries around the world, and the Trilateral Heads of Office Meeting, comprised of the European Patent Office (EPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the JPO.
For IP Offices in emerging and developing countries, we have resumed organizing local seminars and providing face-to-face trainings in and out of Japan. We will continuously support the development of IP systems in these countries.
The JPO will also lead international system harmonization by building stronger cooperative relationships with overseas IP Offices and WIPO through dialogue, and actively disseminating JPO’s initiatives to improve the international environment for the appropriate protection and utilization of IP.
In addition, the JPO has implemented the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with the largest number of IP Offices in the world (44 as of November 2022). This will support the international application strategies of JPO users through examination results.

The JPO currently has staff working in four different locations, but plans are underway to enable all staff to work in the main office building following refurbishment. We are taking this opportunity to promote diverse and efficient ways of working, and are reforming our operations under the slogan 'One JPO' in order to further enhance our sense of unity as an organization.
For example, we are promoting flexible team organization and space utilization within divisions through the introduction of a free address system, paperless work that contributes to improved information security, and telework in line with the diversification of work styles.
Through these initiatives, the JPO will work to maximize its organizational capacity, and the capabilities of individual staff members.

This year, as every year, the JPO will further strive to support your business by encouraging innovation through speedy and high-quality examinations, and by contributing to the global acquisition of rights and the improvement of predictability. I appreciate your continued understanding and cooperation in the administration of the JPO, and I wish you good health and further success in 2023.

HAMANO Koichi,
JPO Commissioner

[Last updated 4 January 2023]