The Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA) is an organization established in 1915 under the Patent Attorneys Act. All Japanese patent attorneys must be members of the JPAA, and persons who wish to be members of the JPAA must be qualified as Japanese patent attorneys. The number of patent attorneys registered with the JPAA is 11,600 (as of December 31, 2020), including not only members who are Japanese nationals but also those with foreign nationalities.
The profession of benrishi, which means patent attorney in English, is a national qualification that was first granted under the Regulations on Registration of Patent Attorneys, which came into effect at the same time as the Patent Act, in 1899. Until then, any person had been able to represent in applying for patents, and in some cases, people without expertise in technology or knowledge in law had undertaken tasks such as preparing an application form and drafting a description. Then, in 1921, the Patent Attorneys Act was promulgated, and those licensed under this Act were thereafter called benrishi (patent attorney).
A person who falls under any of the following and has completed practical training is qualified to be a patent attorney:
(i) a person who has passed the patent attorney examination;
(ii) a person who is qualified to be an attorney at law; or
(iii) a person who has been engaged for a total of at least seven years in functions involved in examinations, trials or appeals as an examiner or administrative judge at the Japan Patent Office.
In order to practice as a patent attorney, a person who is qualified to be a patent attorney must register with the Japan Patent Attorneys Association as a patent attorney.
Patent attorneys may engage in the business of undertaking, at the request of other persons, to represent those other persons in procedures with the Japan Patent Office involving patents, utility models, designs, or trademarks or involving international applications, applications for the international registration of designs, or applications for the international registration of trademarks; to represent other persons in procedures with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry regarding requests for review under the provisions of the Administrative Complaint Review Act and administrative decisions that involve patents, utility models, designs, or trademarks; and to provide expert opinions and handle other operations in connection with particulars involved in these procedures (Article 4, paragraph (1) of the Patent Attorneys Act).
If any person who is not a patent attorney or patent attorney corporation engages in the business of undertaking, at the request of other persons and for compensation, to represent those other persons in procedures at the JPO or handle other operations mentioned above that only patent attorneys are authorized to engage in, such person is subject to a criminal penalty.
In addition to the patent attorney’s business mentioned above, as an exception under Article 72 of the Attorneys Act, patent attorneys may also engage in, under the title of patent attorney, services to provide consultation on intellectual property and act as counsel in litigation to rescind JPO’s trial/appeal decisions or rulings on patents, utility models, designs or trademarks. No person other than attorneys at law or patent attorneys may engage in these services (Article 72 of the Attorneys Act), and any person who violates this is subject to a criminal penalty (Article 77 of the Attorneys Act).
A patent attorney who has passed the examination to qualify as counsel in proceedings alleging specific infringement and has had a supplementary note indicating this fact added by the Japan Patent Attorneys Association may act as counsel for a client in a proceeding alleging specific infringement only if it is a case that an attorney at law has taken on for the same client (Article 6-2 of the Patent Attorneys Act).
I would like to convey my greetings on the occasion of becoming President of the Japan Patent Attorneys Association for 2023.
Three years after the beginning of 2020, when COVID-19 emerged as a challenge facing the entire society, the government of Japan is now working to restore society to the pre-COVID-19 state, by such efforts as the reclassification of COVID-19 from a Category 2 to Category 5 infectious disease from this May and renaming it “Corona 2019.”.
As I take on the role of President of the Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA) in this period of transition from the co-existence phase to post-pandemic phase, I would like to present the following business plan to be worked on with our members for ensuring a robust organization in the future, with the specific initiatives presented in a list form for the sake of space.
The Board of Executive Directors of the Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA) comprises one president, eight vice presidents, and less than twenty Executive Directors. The President and vice presidents are elected from its member patent attorneys. The President of JPAA represents JPAA and presides over its business.
For the purpose of directing and supervising its members, the JPAA has a Executive Committee consisting of a President, Vice Presidents, and Executive Directors.
The JPAA has more than 40 committees and other organizations for the purpose of achieving objectives such as strengthening its capabilities, enhancing its functions in supporting the development of industry, and promoting academic research. These committees include the Patent Committee, Trademark Committee, Design Committee, Biotechnology and Life Science Committee, and Ethics Committee.