Design a Society Supported by Intellectual Property!
Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA)
On entering my second year as the president of the Japan Patent Attorneys Association (JPAA) on April 1, 2022, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude for your deep understanding and cooperation in the affairs of JPAA.
FY2021 was a year in which we continued to face the spread of COVID-19. I would like to offer my deepest condolences for people who lost their lives in this unprecedented pandemic, and express my profound respect and appreciation for those who are exerting themselves for the benefit of society and for saving lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In my first year in office in FY2021, we needed to manage JPAA’s affairs amid the pandemic. However, the executives made concerted efforts to actively push forward JPAA’s activities while using ingenuity, under the slogan “Take Advantage of the Changes in the Times!”
In my second year of office, I will build on my experience in the previous fiscal year, and manage JPAA’s activities with the objective to “Design a Society Supported by Intellectual Property.” Specifically, amidst advancement in moves to further promote remote work and digital transformation (DX) and in efforts for the transition to the new normal, we are determined to review JPAA’s strategy from a perspective that conforms to the trends of the times, incorporate the viewpoint of achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are key social challenges, in JPAA’s activities, further drive forward the respective activities, and provide full support to JPAA members.
Meanwhile, FY2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of an agreement between the China Trademark Association and JPAA, and also the 40th anniversary of the exchange between the Korea Patent Attorneys Association and JPAA. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to make fresh efforts to deepen coordination with patent attorneys associations of countries in Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world this fiscal year.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to continue this fiscal year, has had an enormous impact on the economies of the entire world, including Japan. For more than two years, various government policies and activities have been implemented under a delicate balance between suppressing the spread of infection and maintaining and recovering the economy.
In that context, a new lifestyle (the new normal) has been advocated as a way to survive in this COVID era, prompting moves to promote remote work and digital transformation (DX), and the development of new fields of activities based on people’s wisdom.
The environment of economies and industries using intellectual property (IP) is at a turning point, with dramatic changes, including the advancement of new technical fields, such as DX, artificial intelligence (AI), and internet of things (IoT), transformation of supply chains, and intensification of global competition.
Under such circumstances, the number of patent and utility model applications filed, which indicates how actively IP is used, has been on the rise in China, the United States, and other industrialized countries, but the number has fallen substantially in Japan. Nevertheless, Japan has filed the world’s highest number of applications related to environmental technologies.
In January this year, the Cabinet Office published “Guidelines on Disclosure and Governance of Intellectual Property and Intangible Assets Investment/Utilization Strategies,” and there are growing expectations for patent attorneys’ involvement in the consulting services for utilizing IP in business management.
Because of the severe situation we face inside and outside Japan, we will continue to aggressively implement JPAA’s activities this fiscal year with enthusiasm, toward realizing a future society that patent attorneys play an active role in. I will describe some of those activities below.
The social structure is rapidly changing, as exemplified by the moves to form a society resilient to new infectious diseases, like COVID-19. Amid such changes, the ways in which IP systems are used are also changing.
In the previous fiscal year, we submitted 35 public comments and proactively made policy recommendations to government ministries and agencies, including the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Japan Patent Office, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Also in this fiscal year, JPAA will eagerly exchange opinions with relevant parties, and will demonstrate strong leadership and make policy recommendations, in order to realize IP systems that are attractive for users and that meet future social needs, and to build a setting in which patent attorneys can play an active role.
In the spring of 2021, we set up the JPAA IP Support Desk, in order clarify our contact point for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups. In addition, in January this year, JPAA freshly declared 2022 to be the “first year of IP support for startups.” JPAA has been providing support for startups and SMEs to date, but this fiscal year, we will particularly exert efforts in supporting startups. In order to revitalize regional economies, it is essential for startups in each region to develop by incorporating IP in their business management. Development of startups, including university-originated startups, in each region will lead to the revitalization of regional economies.
JPAA has nine regional branches, and the activities of each regional branch are those that are the closest to the people and general business operators among JPAA’s activities. As for support of startups, JPAA will continue to operate the Headquarters for Promotion of SME IP Management, established in the previous fiscal year, and have the headquarters also supervise the support for startups this fiscal year. By doing so, support measures will be coordinated through closer exchange of opinions between regions, and coordination will also be made with venture capitals (VCs). In this manner, the JPAA headquarters and each regional branch will make concerted efforts to reinforce and implement regional support through revitalization of community-based regional IP, so as to enable each regional branch to conduct activities more vigorously.
Last year, JPAA was registered as a co-creation partner of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan to be held in Osaka in 2025. In order to resolve social issues by using IP, and achieve social implementation of superior technologies, JPAA will strengthen IP support for SMEs and startups in cooperation with related ministries and agencies.
In the previous fiscal year, JPAA provided continuous obligation training for registered patent attorneys through live streaming, and introduced e-learning in regional branch training sessions held by each regional branch. By providing training in such diverse modes, we expanded the training opportunities for JPAA members. This fiscal year, we will further improve the convenience for members by also making hybrid-style training available for the continuous obligation training.
Moreover, with an active effort to comply with the new lifestyle that responds to COVID-19, we will review JPAA’s existing activities and budget, as well as the role-sharing between JPAA’s regional branches and headquarters, in order to make them adapt to the changing times and environment. In addition, we will achieve organizational and functional reinforcement of the entire association so as to revitalize community-based regional IP.
Furthermore, starting in May this fiscal year, we will make it possible for members to request that postal items to be delivered from the JPAA headquarters be sent to the address of the member’s secondary office or home registered with JPAA, instead of the conventionally used address of the member’s principal office, as a practice adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we will give a greater consideration to members’ privacy by enabling members to request non-disclosure of the detailed part (i.e., the town name and the street number) of the address of the principal office to be published in the Patent Attorneys Navi search system under certain conditions.
Also, by using the internet, we will actively participate in meetings hosted by other countries and opinion exchange sessions with related bodies and organizations in other countries, in order to provide timely information to JPAA members and to contribute to increasing Japan’s IP presence.
We will also start a study on the role that should be played by patent attorneys in order to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are key social challenges. We may ask JPAA members for opinions, in which case we would appreciate your cooperation.
As long as all of JPAA’s activities are financed mainly by the membership fees collected from its members, JPAA has a responsibility to explain the need for and expenses of its activities to its members. In order to maximize the cost-effectiveness of its activities, without wasting valuable financial resources, we will put our heads together and achieve a shift to or creation of more low-cost and effective activities (streamlining of activities), by not only reviewing the activities of the headquarters and the regional branches, but also fixed costs.
In order for the patent attorneys system that supports the IP systems to develop and continue long into the future, it is important to foster human resources, particularly young human resources, who will lead the patent attorneys system.
In the previous fiscal year, we held several sessions in which young patent attorneys and the president had free and open-minded exchange of opinions, and we used the valuable information obtained through these sessions in the management of JPAA’s affairs. This fiscal year again, we will create as many opportunities as possible for exchanging opinions with young patent attorneys, who will be responsible for the next generation, and utilize the results for further improving the management of JPAA’s affairs.
Meanwhile, with an aim to provide diverse experience opportunities, we will provide information on the recruitment of WIPO staff and other positions this fiscal year again, so please apply by all means if you are interested. Last year, a patent attorney was appointed as a WIPO staff member.
Furthermore, we will exchange opinions with other organizations and diversity-related departments in other countries, and promote diversity in the IP industry and the patent attorneys industry. In the previous fiscal year, JPAA’s Diversity Committee consisted solely of female members, but I would like to encourage male members to also join the committee this fiscal year.
What is essential in reviewing and restructuring JPAA’s activities is the understanding of JPAA members. Therefore, we intend to emphasize the process of putting our heads together with members and deriving solutions, while widely sharing information with them. We will securely move forward step-by-step toward realizing a promising future society through IP, which patent attorneys excel in. To this end, I ask for your continued support and cooperation.