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President Inaugural Address

Inaugural Address

In view of the overview discussed below, we set three targets for FY 2012 starting April 1st:
 First of all, I wish to express my sincere condolences to those who lost their lives in the severe earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku and Kita-kanto regions. My sympathy goes to those who were affected by this disaster. I hope all the devastated communities can quickly recover from damages. The FY2011 executive board of the Japan Patent Attorneys Association will make every effort to provide possible assistance.
 In recent years, the Japanese economy and our profession have experienced a series of difficulties including the Lehman Shock, appreciation of the yen, declining number of patent applications, and, most recently, the huge earthquake. By any standards, this is not the easiest time for our members’ business. It is our policy for this fiscal year to provide support for the members of this Association.

Shoichi Okuyama

JPAA President
April 2011

Themes for this fiscal year
 While it was customary for the board to have a slogan for the year, we no longer believe that a single slogan could summarize all activities of such a large organization as JPAA. This fiscal year, JPAA will undertake its activities under the following five themes:
 (1) Building a better intellectual property protection system,
 (2) Developing a patent attorney system that benefits the public,
 (3) Encouraging JPAA committees and institutes to seek business opportunities outside the Association,
 (4) Supporting the infrastructure development for our members, and
 (5) Restructuring JPAA’s administration to improve member services.

Building a better intellectual property protection system
 JPAA will actively make policy proposals to improve the intellectual property system in order to make it more appealing to users. Committee activities need to be shaped in the way that facilitates policy discussions.
 For example, the expert committees on patents, designs and trademarks each will be divided into the first and second committees. The first committee will consist of members with at least ten years of professional experience in intellectual property matters to engage itself in policy discussions with external entities. The second committee, on the other hand, will be in charge of studying examination guidelines and case law, and responsible for educational activities.
 Other expert committees on copyrights, unfair competition, biotechnology and life sciences, software, and intellectual properties in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries fields are also mandated to come up with relevant policy proposals.
 The correlation between Japan’s technological development capacity and the number of patent applications is studied in order to encourage the filing of necessary applications.
 In relation to small and medium-sized enterprises, JPAA will extend assistance in making inventions, filing patent applications, and utilizing resulting patents.
 JPAA will also run a campaign for improving the public awareness on the usefulness of trademark and design protection and importance of brand strategies.

Developing a patent attorney system that benefits the public
 The revisions of the Patent Attorney Act in recent years covered various aspects including the patent bar examination, additional qualification for representation before infringement courts, and a new system for incorporating patent firms. We still see much room for improvements in the other areas. In preparation for the expected review of the law in FY2013 after the most recent 2007 revision, JPAA will launch a full scale investigation toward the ideal patent attorney system. The Patent Attorney Act Revision Committee is to compile a set of recommendations so that we can soon start lobbying activities.

Encouraging JPAA committees and institutes to seek business opportunities outside the Association
(1) Business challenge
 While the committees and institutes of JPAA have achieved substantial results in the past in their research and academic work, we will take a step forward and examine what opportunities exist for patent attorneys in real business situations. Every JPAA committee should make an effort to explore new businesses outside the Association.
(2) Reinforcement of relationship with other organizations
 We will enhance ties with the Japan Intellectual Property Association, Nippon Keidanren, Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Japan Bioindustry Association, JEITA, SOFTIC, JASRAC, JETRO, JICA, WIPO, Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Finance. This is to boost the presence of patent attorneys in our society, and pave a way toward patent attorneys’ participation in government organizations as permanent or part-time staff and advisers. We will step up our international activities and enhance relationships with foreign or international associations.

Supporting the infrastructure development for our members
 JPAA will continue its pursuit of setting standards for efficient case management at its member firms and compile model cases. We will also explore new ways to increase the number of trademark and design applications based on the lessons learned from the “Potential Power of Designs” campaign conducted last year. As for copyrights and other businesses, the Education Institute is to coordinate with the Intellectual Property Management Consultation and Copyright Committees to provide appropriate learning opportunities with possible help from external organizations, in addition to campaigns on patent attorneys’ capabilities.
 In regard to the support for small and medium enterprises and venture businesses, we will observe policies which the Japan Patent Office will adapt and ask the Committee on Policy Planning and Administration to identify possible actions JPAA can take.
 We will also reinforce training activities, including practical training for incoming patent attorneys and secretaries as well as language training for our members.

Restructuring JPAA’s administration to improve member services
 We will propose a discount of up to 25% for the membership fee (currently 20,000 yen per month) for a limited time of one year in an effort to review JPAA’s expense structure, so as to reduce the fee permanently. We will consider a point-based system, similar to mileage services, to encourage our members to participate in the business of the Association.
 We would like to encourage our members to participate in government business projects with the help of the “Support Center” established in FY2010, and we will explore ways of member participation in such projects.

In conclusion
 As discussed above, JPAA must address a wide range of tasks, and meet high expectations the society places on patent attorneys. We are committed to working with all members to help JPAA utilize its full potential as an association of experts supporting the nation’s intellectual property system. Your guidance, support and cooperation would be cordially invited and much appreciated. Thank you.

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