Applicants for Japanese patents may, by satisfying certain criteria, receive discounts for certain official fees paid to the Japan Patent Office (JPO). On April 1, 2019, the JPO modified those criteria in applicant-friendly ways. First, the new criteria broaden the scope of small- and micro-entities (SMEs) and research and development entities (RDEs) that are eligible for the reduced fees. Second, the new criteria relax the requirements for requesting the discount. Any application for which a request for examination is filed on or after April 1, 2019, will be eligible to pay discounted fees under the new rules, if the application meets the requirements as an SME or an RDE. The discount applies when requesting examination, as well when paying annuities for years 1 to 10, and reduces the associated fees by 50% to 66%, depending on which requirements are satisfied, and the type of business.
The requirements differ depending on whether the applicant is a corporate entity or a sole proprietorship, the number of employees, the amount of capital (for corporate entities), and the industry in question. Accordingly, determining whether an applicant may enjoy a 50% or 66% discount requires a modest factual inquiry. Corporate and private entities, including those specializing in research and development, in a variety of industries, qualify for a fee reduction of 50% if they meet requirements related to the number of people employed and, for corporate entities, their capitalization. Universities and technical colleges, and public research and development institutes, also qualify for a fee reduction of 50%. Additionally, certain sole proprietorships and venture enterprises in business fewer than 10 years, and small companies having 20 or fewer employees, may be eligible for a fee reduction of 66%.