The short answer is yes. A small number of cases with a filing date almost 19 to 20 years ago can be found at the JPO. I was curious whether such cases would continue to be examined or could even be granted after 20 years from the filing date. I have confirmed the following with the Japanese Patent Office (JPO):
- Even after 20 years from the effective filing date of a patent application, the JPO will continue to examine such patent applications.
- Even after 20 years from the effective filing date of a patent application has passed, it is possible to pay the patent fee and have a patent registered.
According to the JPO, if 20 years has passed from the effective filing date, then there is no patent term left and, therefore, the patent fee is “zero yen”. The document for payment of the patent fee should indicate “zero yen”. The Patent will be published, a Patent Gazette will be sent to the patentee, and shortly thereafter, the Ledger Patent of the case will be closed.
Pursuing a patent even after 20 years from the effective filing date may be a consideration if, for example, the applicant has contracts with third parties in which there are clauses on royalties or license fees on the premise that a patent is actually granted to the application.
The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. The JPO may alter its examination policies with or without advance notice. You should seek legal advice or other professional advice in relation to any particular matters of the patent law you or your organization may have.