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Revision of the Examination Guidelines for Patent and Utility Model

March 14, 2018
Japan Patent Office
Administrative Affairs Division
Examination Standards Office

The draft revision of Examination Guidelines was prepared based on the discussions at the 12th meetings of the Working Group on the Patent Examination Standards supervised by the Patent System Subcommittee under the Intellectual Property Committee of the Industrial Structure Council.

The Japan Patent Office invited the public to submit comments on it from January 24, 2018 to February 23, 2018 and finalize the revision of the Examination Guidelines.

The Examination Guidelines related to computer software-related inventions will be effective for the examination on and after April 1, 2018.

Overview of the revision of Examination Guidelines

Overview of the revision of Examination Guidelines for Patent and Utility Model related to the computer software-related inventions.

  • With the emergence of new technologies such as IoT related technology and AI, software-related inventions are created in many technical fields, so that it is desired that the basic concept is clearly understandable concerning eligibility for patent and inventive step, since it is increasingly necessary for examiners and users in these various technical fields to examine with sufficient understanding of the contents of the examination guidelines related to software-related inventions concerning eligibility for patent and inventive step.
  • Based on these circumstances, the contents of eligibility for patent have been clarified without changing basic concept about examination guidelines related to software-related inventions.
  • Since the pre-revision examination guidelines do not describe definitions of terms such as "program", "equivalent to programs", "software", "data structure" and the like, and do not describe the meaning to consider eligibility of patent from the viewpoint of computer software (the invention complies with the requirements of eligibility for patent if "information processing by the software is concretely realized by using hardware resources") , These definitions and meanings have been added to understand the basic concept only from the description of the examination guidelines.
  • According to the pre-revision examination guidelines, it is described to examine eligibility for patent from "a viewpoint of computer software", and then it is described that those concretely performing control of an apparatus or processing with respect to the control or those concretely performing information processing based on the technical properties of an object is the statutory invention. Since the order of description and order of examination did not correspond, the order of description has replaced and corresponded the order of description and order of examination.

[Last updated 14 March 2018]

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Examination Standards Office

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Japan Patent Office

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