Japan aims to cut patent exam lengths in half


The government is aiming to reduce patent examinations from the current average length of nearly 2½ years to about 14 months, which would be the shortest period in the world, by fiscal 2023.

The move, announced Tuesday, is part of an initiative to make Japan the world leader in intellectual property, a component of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said the administration hopes to create the fastest and best intellectual property system in the world.

According to the Japan Patent Office, the average patent exam term was 29.6 months in 2012, shorter than 31.7 months in the United States and 36.2 months in Europe. But it was longer than 22.8 months in South Korea and 22.9 months in China, both as of 2011.

“Countries are competing to shorten examination terms” to enable patent applicants to launch businesses and recover investments sooner, a senior official at the patent office said.

The Abe administration is also backing a bill that would allow colors and sounds to be trademarked.

The administration wants the bill to be passed during the current ordinary Diet session.