Evaluation and Future Direction of Intellectual Property Strategy - Setting out a new intellectual property policy -

Author Name KUGAI Takashi  (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. August 2010 10-P-006
Research Project Review and Future Issues of Intellectual Property Strategy
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This paper aims to assess the progress made thus far by the intellectual property strategy, adopted by Japanese Government in 2002, and analyze its future direction.


1. An intellectual property strategy is a policy aimed at improving the international competitiveness of industry and reinvigorating the economy through the creation, protection, and greater use of intellectual property.

2. The realization of IP policies conventionally considered difficult to implement and greater awareness of intellectual property at all levels of society, as demonstrated the establishment of Intellectual Property High Courts that exclusively and solely handle intellectual property litigation, and the addition of 500 Japan Patent Office examiners to speed up the screening of patents, are commendable.

3. At the same time, though, stagnation in part or halfway can be seen in efforts to achieve the objectives set out for specific policy measures, for the creation, protection, and utilization of intellectual property and for the promotion of the content industry. There are still issues that need to be addressed from the perspective of industry as a system user and from the perspective of international system coordination.

4. The circumstances surrounding intellectual property are again undergoing great change both domestically and overseas, though the Intellectual Property Headquarters has been in operation for less than a decade. The economies of Asia and newly emerging countries continue to expand and the development of Internet technology marches on but, as apparent in the global financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, last year's H1N1epidemic, and the growing seriousness of global warming issues, problems are arising in the field of intellectual property that cannot be resolved without unified global efforts to address them. Conventional strategies need to be reviewed and new intellectual property policies adopted from an international perspective to respond to the changes in the worldwide environment. The following three points are particularly important:

1) Prompted by the economic slump that ensued following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Japanese companies accelerated their shift of management resources to Asian and newly emerging markets, and a shift toward Asia can also be seen in their patent application efforts. Technology is the fountainhead of competitiveness for Japanese companies expanding overseas, and these companies expect that an active approach will be taken toward international cooperation on intellectual property protection in view of the decisive importance of protecting Japan's intellectual property abroad.

2) Advances in digital technology and the worldwide proliferation of the Internet have sparked global competition in the digitization and databasing of content. Japan's content has a solid reputation around the world but the country lags behind the competition in the arena of electronic books and electronic libraries that are now the focus of so much attention, presenting problems for the content industry and seriously undermining Japan's standing in research, education, and elsewhere. Japan's content industry should not regard the Internet as an enemy, but instead should utilize it to move down the road to new development. Reforms of a similar nature are also urgently needed for the copyright system.

3) Universities are important players in intellectual property. The impressive research results produced by Japanese universities particularly in biotechnology of late have been utilized around the world through collaboration with foreign companies and are playing a major role in combating intractable diseases and saving lives. Such international contributions made through the intellectual property of universities constitute part of Japan's "soft power" and should be even more actively pursued in future. To that end, efforts to develop systems to support the intellectual property of universities should be promptly considered.

In the course of preparing this paper, a questionnaire survey was conducted, with the cooperation of the Japan Intellectual Property Association, of the top 200 patent applicant companies on their patent application activities since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The survey results have been posted as charts/tables in this paper.