When a patent application is filed with the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the formality section of the JPO examines if the application meets the formality requirements. When the application does not meet the formality requirements, a formality examiner requests an applicant to amend the application. After 18 months from a filing date, the JPO publishes the patent application. All the patent applications are published unless the applications are abanodned within 18 months.
An applicant needs to requst examination within three (3) years from the filing date. Upon the examination request, a substantial examination is carried out. When the examination request is not filied, the application is deemed to be withdrawn. Any third party can request the examination. When an examiner determines that a claimed invention does not meet the patent requirements, the examiner notifes the applicant of a ground of rejection and invites the applicant to submit arguments. In response to the notice of the rejection, the applicant may submit the arguments with amendments.
When the examiner determines that the claimed invention meets the patent requirements, or when the response submitted by the applicant overcomes the rejection, the examiner grants the application and notifies the applicant of allowance. Within 30 days from the notice of allowance, the applicant needs to pay registration fee with annuities for first to third years. Upon the payment of the fees, the application is registered and a patent right becomes effective.
When the application is finally rejected, the applicant may file a request for trial against a decision of rejection. When the request for trial is submitted with the JPO, the application is transferred to the trial division of the JPO, and a trial examiner examines the application. If the request for trial is accompanied with amendments to claims, the application is returned to the examiner in the examining devision who originally rejected the application and the examiner examines the amendment. When the examiner determines that the amendment overcomes the rejection, the examiner issues allowance. Otherwise the examiner transfers the application to the trial division, where the application is examined by the appeal examiner.