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How to Search Japanese Patents about Digital Cameras

We have experience and expertise in searching Japanese prior art (patent and non-patent literature) in the area of electronics and home appliance. A digital camera (also called digicam) is a camera that takes still pictures or video, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. Many compact digital still cameras can record sound and moving video as well as still photographs. Most 21st century cameras are digital.

As can be seen from the table below, there are about 10,000 Japanese patent documents published annually that contain the word of "digital camera". Because there are so many patent documents filed in the area of digital camera since 1993, searching Japanese patent documents for a specific feature of a digital camera is a challenging task.

When performing a patent search at JPO, we usually take a combination of full text (broad) and classification (focused) approach.

Digital cameras are classified into the following fields in Japan patent system:

5C053 (FA08 + GB06 + LA01 + LA06 + 5C122 + DA04 + EA42 + FH07 + FH10 + FH14 + FK12 + GA01 + GA34 + HB01)

(H04N5/93 + H04N5/91 + H04N5/225 + H04N 101/00)

(H04N5/93@Z + H04N5/91@J + H04N5/91@Z + H04N5/225@F + H04N101:00)

While classification searches are very focused if the feature(s) of a target digital camera is well defined, an examiner may miss-classify a patent. Therefore, we always use a broad, full text document approach with key word strings in addition to the classification. By using combination of classification and full text, we are able to locate and uncover pertinent art, if there is a pertinett art in the area of interest.

Number of patents filed at JPO in the area of digital camera is the highest in the world, therefore, it is a very important prior art source. Based on our experience, in a validity or invalidation litigation, if the target patent is filed by an applicant that is not a Japanese company, the chance of uncovering good art is higher. A non-Japanese company usually did not perform a Japaense search before filing the application because of the difficulties and cost. During the examination process, an examiner may not be able to perform a thorough patent search because of the time limitation, language barrier, and limited resource.

Table 1. Number of Japanese Patent Documents Containing the Word "Digital Camera"
Vs. Year of Publication
Year Number of Hits
2010 8620
2009 9720
2008 9578
2007 10862
2006 10046
2005 10045
2004 8740
2003 6647
2002 5405
2001 4068
2000 2868
1999 1949
1998 905
1997 266
1996 63
1995 52
1994 26
1993 19
"Note: Full text search using Japanese synonym of "digital camera".

Tips and case studies of searching Japan patents relating to digital cameras:
How to Search JP Patents for Digital Cameras
Search JP patents for Digital Cameras with unique parameter setting function
Search JP patents for Digital Cameras with image rotation during display

Validity/invalidation prior art for digital camera.

We have expertise and experience in this field, as well as in other home electronic appliance and related fields.