Japanese lawmakers will next week consider proposed legislation to allow raids of manufacturing sites as part of patent infringement investigations, according to reports.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported today, January 25, that the Japan Patent Office (JPO) is to draw up a new legal framework that will allow a court to order a search of properties at a plaintiff’s request.
According to the report, while defendants can be compelled to hand over documents and products, there is currently no provision for plaintiffs to access manufacturing sites.
Similar laws are in place in the US, Germany, the UK and China.
The new powers would be subject to checks against abuse. The raids would only be permitted as a last resort of gathering evidence when no other means are available.
The news comes amid a reform drive in Japanese patent law. In a piece for WIPR last April, Japanese patent attorney Ryo Maruyama outlined some of the policy changes under consideration at the time.
One of the changes, which was introduced in May 2018, extended the grace period for patents to 12 months from six months. During this period, the disclosure of an invention to the public before the filing of a patent is not considered “prior art” or evidence of a product’s patent ineligibility.
In December 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as part of his “Japan productivity revolution” policy, called on the JPO to improve its service to the benefit of IP rights owners.
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