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From Stars And Stripes To Rising Sun: A Study Of Patent Laws In The United States And Japan

3438 words - 14 pages

From Stars and Stripes to Rising Sun: A Study of Patent Laws in the United States and Japan

Introduction There is no question that the United States and Japan are technological leaders of the world. They are two of the nations with the highest annual number of intellectual property patents granted.1 Both nations have achieved such great successes in the world of intellectual property as a result of a variety of reasons. Among these reasons is the encouragement of innovation and invention with monetary benefits in return. Both the United States and Japan have well-defined, stringent patent laws for intellectual property. These laws encourage competition among organizations and ...view middle of the document...

The justifications for enforcing patent laws include the advancement of technology, the increase in economic growth, and the improvement of the quality of life.3 These are compelling reasons for nations to have clearly defined patent laws on intellectual property, and they are some of the reasons that the United States and Japan have similar patent laws.

In addition to patent laws within individual nations, WIPO is an international organization that oversees international patents. Individual nations can voluntarily join WIPO, whose current membership is 179 nations. One significant task for which WIPO is responsible is the handling of international patent applications. If a company from a WIPO organization wishes to patent its invention in all WIPO nations, it can submit an international patent application to achieve this. The application allows the inventor who is filing to specify in which WIPO nations the patent is to be filed. Both the United States and Japan belong to WIPO.

Patent Laws in the United States Under the United States patent laws, a patent can be granted for a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a useful improvement of any of the aforementioned. A new invention patent is granted only to the original inventor of a product and lasts for 20 years. An inventor forfeits his patent rights, if he publicizes his invention more than a year before filing for a patent. He also forfeits such rights, if he files for a patent for the same invention in another country more than a year before filing in the United States. This law differs from those of most other nations, where an inventor cannot publicize or disclose his inventions at all, prior to filing for a patent. Another related policy difference between the United States and most other nations is the granting of a patent based on first-to-invent versus first-to-file. In the United States, if more than one inventor files for the patent of the same invention, the entity who is granted the patent is the one that can prove it was first to invent the product, and this patent-granting practice is known as first-to-invent. In all other nations, except the Philippines, when the same dilemma occurs, the entity who is first to file for the patent is the one who is granted the patent, and that is known as first-to-file.

Patent Laws in Japan In Japan, intellectual property rights are protected by several laws, including the patent law, the utility model law, the design law, the copyright law, and the trademark law. The first three of these laws protect an inventor or organization in an industrial realm. While these laws are similar to one another, each protects a different aspect of intellectual property. New inventions, such as a new computer program, are protected by the patent law. Combinations or unique structure of such inventions are protected by the utility model law. New designs of existing inventions, such as a new graphical user interface, are...

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