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Q2. Pro Se (Self representation) Application

Q2. Pro Se (Self representation) Application
Does the Japan Patent Office (JPO) permit pro se applications? That is, is it permitted for an inventor to file and prosecute their own patent application without the assistance of a patent attorney?

A2. The JPO permits so-called pro se (self representation) applications as long as the applicant has their domicile or residence in Japan irrespective of their nationality. Otherwise, it is not permitted for an inventor to file and prosecute their application without the assistance of a Patent Administrator [the Patent Law Art.8(1)]. Patent attorneys and attorneys at law can be Patent Administrators. Any person, including non-Japanese, who has their domicile or residence in Japan and is an applicant’s representative with respect to the applicant’s patent, can be a Patent Administrator. The Patent Administrator shall represent the principal in all procedures and in a suit instituted against measures taken by an administrative agency in accordance with the Patent Law or an order or ordinance thereunder [the Patent Law Art.8(2)]. However, the “resident abroad” – i.e. the applicant – can limit the scope of powers of attorney.
As an exception, if the applicant has a Patent administrator, the applicant (or in case of a legal entity, its representative) is able to proceed before the JPO during their stay in Japan without the assistance of a Patent administrator (Art.1 of the Enforcement Ordinance under the Patent Law).
Another exception is admitted when a PCT application filed in the U.S. or other foreign countries designating Japan enters into the Japanese national phase (the Patent Law Art.184-11 applies). In this case, the resident abroad is allowed to proceed before the JPO on condition that the resident appoints a Patent Administrator within 3 months after the expiration of 30 months from the priority date for the filing of a translation of the PCT application, or within 3 months from the day when a request for examination is filed within the above-described 30 months.