Government to submit draft of intellectual property bill

The government on Wednesday drafted a bill for a basic law designed to transform Japan into a knowledge-oriented economy.

The bill was endorsed by the Strategic Council on Intellectual Property, an advisory panel to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The move is intended to help the country survive industrial competition from labor-cheap China and U.S. technological advances.

The panel, which was set up in March, called for the legislation in July after compiling a comprehensive strategy on the matter, it said.

The government plans to get Cabinet approval Friday for submitting the bill to an extraordinary Diet session, which starts the same day.

It hopes to put the law into effect at the end of this year at the earliest.

The bill features a broad definition of intellectual property designed to promote and protect not only specific rights, such as patents and copyrights, but wide-ranging business activities based on knowledge, including trade secrets, the official said.

It also calls on universities and businesses to play their part, a rare statutory reference to mandates of universities, particularly in giving appropriate incentives to inventors and researchers, he said.

The bill would require the government to draw up a three-year program of specific measures with clear deadlines and review them at least once a year. The planned law would also be reviewed in three years.

An intellectual property headquarters, to include the prime minister, all ministers and private-sector experts, will take charge of compiling the program, the official said.

The bill is intended to encourage transfer of intellectual property from academic institutions to businesses, expedite patent procedures and nurture legal and other experts.

It also points to the need to boost crackdowns on infringement of intellectual property rights and promote the protection of such rights in new areas, including regenerative medicine.