A government panel on industrial property urged the United States on Friday to rectify its “peculiar patent system” to cooperate with the global community in setting highly transparent rules on patent protection, and make acquisition of cross-border patents more efficient.

According to a draft report approved by a subcommittee of the Industrial Property Council, an advisory body to the Minister of International Trade and Industry, U.S. mechanisms such as the first invention system and concealment of pending patents are impeding the activities of foreign investors in the U.S.

Under such circumstances, “Japanese companies are acting like they are in mine fields,” since investors may find themselves infringing on ideas that by law don’t have to be officially registered, a Patent Office official said.

The patent official added that his government will work on other members of the World Trade Organization to take up a broader range of the intellectual property issue at the coming WTO round scheduled to start in 2000.

In May, patent chiefs from the seven major economies will hold a two-day unofficial meeting in Tokyo to discuss global coordination of the industrial property toward the new century, the official said.

Japan will join the European Union to address the U.S. practice of reconciling different patent systems to pave the way for greater cross-border trade and investment and technology transfer, the report says.

The report also stresses the need for the world to adequately protect patents in new areas such as biotechnology and other advanced technologies and communication. Japan will also support measures to manage industrial property in developing countries where piracy and infringement of trademarks is an everyday practice.

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