Patent Overview


Restriction of Multi-Multi Claims

[1] What is a Multi-Multi Claim?
 The term “Multi-Multi claim” means “a claim that selectively recites two or more other claims which selectively recite two or more other claims (multi-claims)”.
 We will use the following examples of claims to illustrate the term “Multi-Multi claim” in detail.

[Claim 1] A composition containing A.
[Claim 2] A composition of claim 1, further comprising B.
[Claim 3] A composition of claim 1 or 2, further comprising C.
[Claim 4] A composition of any one of claims 1 to 3, further comprising D.

 Claim 3 is a multi-claim because it selectively recites two or more other claims.
 Claim 4 is a Multi-Multi claim because it recites claim 3, which is a multi-claim, and selectively recites two or more other claims.

[2] Purpose of the Restriction
 Multi-Multi claims were permitted in Japan and Europe, whereas they were not in the U.S., China, and Korea, among the major intellectual property offices (IP5) of Japan, the U.S., Europe, China, and Korea.
 In addition, Multi-Multi claims are a cause of excessive burden in monitoring and examination processes by third parties as it is necessary to combine the description of all claims to which a claim refers in order to understand a single claim.
 Therefore, for the purpose of promoting international harmonization as well as reducing the workload of examination and the burden of monitoring by third parties, it was decided to introduce the restriction on Multi-Multi claims.
 The restriction has been effective since April 1, 2022.

[3] Details of the Multi-Multi Claim Restriction
 (1) Claims that are found to be Multi-Multi claims will fall under a reason for refusal for violation of Article 36, Paragraph 6, Item 4 of the Patent Act. However, they do not fall under the grounds for opposition or grounds for invalidation.
 (2) In case of violation of the Multi-Multi claim restriction, the claims are not subject to examination for other patent requirements, such as novelty and inventive step. This is because the purpose of this restriction is to “reduce the burden of examination” and “maintain fairness among applications.”
 (3) For the same reason, claims citing Multi-Multi claims are not subject to examination for other patent requirements, such as novelty and inventive step.
 (4) With respect to unity of invention, claims that fall under Multi-Multi claims are excluded from the judgment of unity of invention. Therefore, the unity of invention is judged with respect to claims other than those falling under Multi-Multi claims.
 (5) If Multi-Multi claims are amended in proper form, and, as a result of which, it becomes necessary to examine the amended claims and to be notified only of the reasons for refusal as a result of the amendment, this shall be the final notice of reasons for refusal.
 (6) The Multi-Multi claim restriction applied to patents also applies to utility models. In the case of violation thereof, the applicant is subject to an amendment order due to lack of the basic requirement. (Article 6-2 of the Utility Model Act)
 (7) In principle, the application of Multi-Multi claim restriction is judged based on the filing date. Therefore, the Multi-Multi claim restriction does not apply to applications whose filing dates are retroactively set to before the effective date, such as in the case of filing a divisional application after the effective date. However, it does apply to an application with a priority claim whose priority date is before the effective date but whose filing date is on or after the effective date.

[4] International Applications
 (1) The Multi-Multi claim restriction does not apply to PCT applications whose international filing date is before the effective date and which are transferred to Japan after the effective date.
 (2) With respect to the international phase of a PCT application, Multi-Multi claims are still subject to international search and international preliminary examination.

[5] Multi-Multi Claim Checker (Japanese version only)

 The Japan Patent Office (JPO) provides a “Multi-Multi Claim Checker” to check for the existence of Multi-Multi claims before filing an application or amendment.


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In order to resolve the above two points, the fifth amendment was made in 2021, which included two amendments: “revise from Due care to unintentional”, and ” submit evidentiary materials from mandatory to voluntary”.

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