Law Revising Portions of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and Other Acts
June 7, 2018
On May 30, 2018, the "Law Revising Portions of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and Other Acts" was promulgated. This law includes revisions to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, the Industrial Standardization Act, the Patent Act and related acts, and the Patent Attorney Act. The main revisions of note are introduced below.
■Extension of the Grace Period
For patent, utility model and design applications, the exception period (grace period) for lack of novelty is extended from six months to one year. Exceptions to lack of novelty are permitted in cases of publication contrary to the wishes of the person that has the right to receive a patent (or utility model or design registration) and in cases of publication attributable to actions by the person that has the right to receive a patent (or utility model or design registration), and the current revision is applied to both cases. This revision will be enacted from June 9, 2018, and will apply to applications filed on or after this date. (However, the revised provisions will not apply to inventions and the like that are published on or before December 8, 2017, even if an application is filed for such an invention on or after June 9, 2018.)
■Expansion of Relief Measures for Patent and Other Fees for Small- to Medium-Sized Enterprises
In order to encourage small- to medium-sized companies to actively engage in intellectual property protection, patent fees and the like for small- to medium-sized companies have been reduced by half for both domestic and international applications. Further, while only certain small- to medium-sized companies were previously eligible for relief measures for patent and other fees, the current revision has expanded eligibility to all small- to medium-sized companies.
■Stricter Requirements for Divisional Applications from Trademark Applications
Completion of payment of the application fee for the parent application has been added to the requirements for divisional trademark applications. After enactment of this revision, divisional applications that do not meet this requirement will not have retroactive filing dates. This revision aims to make trademark application procedure fairer and more reasonable by recognizing retroactive filing dates for divisional applications only in cases in which the application fee for the parent application has been paid. The revised provisions will apply to divisional applications filed on or after June 9, 2018.
■Development of Procedures for Handling IP Conflict
In order to upgrade and expand procedures for dealing with IP conflict, a procedure has been established such that, when the courts issue an order to submit documentation, the actual need for the documentation concerned can be privately assessed (in camera). (Hitherto, in camera proceedings were only available in cases in which the matter under assessment was the appropriateness of a reason for refusing to submit such documentation in response to a court submission order.) Further, it is now possible for independent (neutral) technical experts to be involved in this in camera procedure.
A provision has been established such that, in cases in which trade secrets are described in documents pertaining to the advisory opinion system (a system whereby Patent Office Trial Examiners can provide advisory opinions regarding, for example, the technical scope of an invention, the extent of similarity of a design, or the scope of efficacy of a trademark), access to such documents is restricted.
■Expansion of Definition of Acts of Unfair Competition
The unfair acquisition, use, and/or disclosure of data provided for business purposes to a specification destination (data managed by magnetic methods such as an ID and password) has been added to the definition of acts of unfair competition, and relief measures, such as the right to request an injunction against such actions, have been established.
Hitherto, the act of providing a device that can circumvent the effects of technological restriction measures (such as CD protection software) for business operations has been classified as an act of unfair competition. Now, providing services of this kind has also been added to the definition of acts of unfair competition.
Summary prepared by International Information Group
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