History of Japanese Patent Law
The history of Japanese patent began in the Meiji era, with the introduction of the concept of the patent to Japan by Mr. Fukuzawa Yukichi in 1867. In 1871, an experimental patent system was implemented but it was abandoned the following year. The "Patent Monopoly Act", which was designed from the French Patent Law and is the first patent law, was entacted in 1885, and the first 7 patents were granted on August 14, 1885 under thus new law. Hotta Zuisho obtained Japanese Patent No. 1 for an anticorrosive paint.
The Patent Monopoly Act was replaced by the Patent Act in 1888, and then it was replaced by the Patent Law in 1899, which was revised in 1909. In 1905 the utility model law was introduced, and in 1921 the Patent Law was revised. The ‘first-to-file’ rule was introduced in the 1921 revision. The current Japan Patent Law had a major amendment in 1959 by referencing to the European patent laws. The revisions included opposition proceedings, the term of patent, and compliance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in relation to criteria of novelty.
In 1975 Japan joined the World Intellectual Property Right Organization, and in 1978 international applications based on the Patent Cooperation Treaty start. In 1994, system for unexamined new utility models introduced.
In 1995 there was another major amendment. In the following years various amendments were consecutively made, including the elimination of the pre-grant opposition system and acceptance of English patent applications. In this year, number of Patent issued reached 2 millions. Also starting from this year, applications in English can be filed at IPO.
In 1999, the Industrial Property Digital Library (IPDL), a free web-based Japanese patent database and retrival system for public, was lauched. Anyone who needs to find prior art can search Japanese patents using IPDl for free. In 2001,The National Center for Industrial Property Information (NCIPI) became an independent administrative institution and started manage the IPDL.
In 2002, Intellectual Property Policy Outline and Basic law on Intellectual Property went effective. In 2003, Intellectual Property Strategy Headguarters was established, and the Program for Promoting the Creation, Protection and Exploitation of Intellecttual Property was formed.