LEGISLATION THAT TOOK EFFECT IN JAPAN LAST YEAR HAS MADE IT EASIER FOR U.S. COMPANIES TO OBTAIN AND ENFORCE PATENTS IN THAT COUNTRY, SAID SHUSAKU YAMAMOTO, A JAPANESE PATENT LAWYER, AT A BREAKFAST COORDINATED BY THE GEORGIA BIOMEDICAL PARTNERSHIP ON SEPT. 20.

THE CURRENT LAW HAS SPED UP THE PROCESS BY EASING PATENT REQUIREMENTS AND PERMITTING BROADER CLAIMS, SAID MR. YAMAMOTO.

THE JAPANESE PATENT OFFICE’S MORE OPEN ATTITUDE TOWARD GRANTING FOREIGN PATENTS, AND A POLICY REQUIRING THE OFFICE TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC GROUNDS FOR REJECTION OF A CLAIM HAVE ALSO IMPROVED THE APPLICATION PROCESS, HE SAID.

MR. YAMAMOTO’S FIRM, SHUSAKU YAMAMOTO PATENT LAW OFFICES, IN OSAKA, IS THE JAPANESE PATENT COUNSEL OF THE ATLANTA LAW FIRM ARNALL GOLDEN & GREGORY, WHICH SPONSORED AND HOSTED THE EVENT.

THE PRESENTATION OUTLINED JAPANESE PATENT LAW, WITH A SPECIAL FOCUS ON THE BIOMEDICAL INDUSTRY, AND UNDERLINED DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PRACTICES IN JAPAN AND ELSEWHERE.

FOR INSTANCE, MR. YAMAMOTO SAID, JAPANESE COMPANIES CUSTOMARILY SETTLE PATENT DISPUTES OUT OF COURT, WHILE FOREIGN COMPANIES ARE MORE LIKELY TO BRING A CLAIM TO TRIAL.

THE HIGH PUBLICITY THESE TRIALS ATTRACT HAS GIVEN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THE IMPRESSION THAT THE JAPANESE PATENT OFFICE HAS BEEN LAX IN ENFORCING FOREIGN PATENTS, WHICH IS NOT THE CASE, HE SAID.

AN IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE IN THE BIOMEDICAL INDUSTRY, SAID MR. YAMAMOTO, IS THAT PATENTS ON DIAGNOSTIC METHODS AND TREATMENTS PRACTICED ON THE HUMAN BODY, WHICH ARE COMMON IN THE U.S., ARE NOT ALLOWED IN JAPAN BECAUSE OF A LACK OF INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS IN JAPAN IS ALSO MORE PERSONAL THAN IN THE U.S. HE SAID.  A FACE-TO-FACE MEETING BETWEEN THE APPLICANT AND THE EXAMINER MAKES A VERY GOOD IMPRESSION,” HE SAID, ESPECIALLY IF THE APPLICANT HAS TRAVELED A LONG DISTANCE FOR THE MEETING.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS PROGRAM OR OTHER BIOMEDICAL PARTNERSHIP EVENTS, CALL CHANNING MERCER AT (404) 817-5917; FAX (404) 817-4345.

BY  BRIANA  PEHLMAN