Japanese Utility Model
Subject of Protection (Articles 1 & 2 of the Japan Utility Model Act)
With regard to the invention, the subject of protection encompasses forms, structures and arrangements; however, methods are not included.
Invention means a creation of technical ideas utilizing the laws of nature.
Utility Model Application
Contrary to patent, drawings are necessary in the case of a utility model application.
The registration fee must be paid at the time of application (includes 1st to 3rd year annuities).
Non-substantive Examination System
For utility models, a substantial examination is not conducted. For that reason, it is possible to obtain the protective rights soon.
Only the following is examined with regard to fulfilling formality and basic requirements:
- The invention falls under the subject of protection
- The invention does not go against public order and morality
- The application documents follow the provided format and fulfill the requirement of unity of invention
- The application documents include the necessary items and are not particularly unclear.
Utility Model Right (Article 14 of the Japan Utility Model Act and below)
The utility model right begins when registration is established. The term lasts 10 years from the application date.
A utility model right owner can commercially use a registered utility model and exclude infringers.
Similarly to patent rights, limitations to utility model rights are determined, from the viewpoint of public interest, in the objective to promote industrial development as well as in order to maintain a balance with the rights of other parties.
Utility model based on a patent application (Article 46(2) of the Japan Patent Act)
After the registration of a utility model, only within a fixed period of time can a patent application be filed. In this case, the utility model right must be forfeited.
Points to be aware of when exercising your right
In the event that the utility model right owner sends an infringement warning to the suspected infringer, a technical evaluation of the utility model must be shown.
Since utility model applications do not undergo a substantial examination, it is necessary to judge whether the parties concerned have a valid right. However, since judging validity isn’t simple, a technical evaluation of the utility model can be sought from the Japan Patent Office as an objective material.
The scope of the technical evaluation of utility models is limited to a fixed range.
If you would like an expert opinion regarding the validity of rights, please contact our firm.
Responsibility and duty of care of utility model right owners (Article 29(3) of the Japan Utility Model Act)
After the exercise of rights, in the case that the right of the registered utility model was invalidated and if it hasn’t been established that the right owner had appropriately fulfilled his/her duty of care, the right owner will have to compensate the other party for the damages they incurred.