How to Search Japanese Patent Using the J-Plat Pat

Does JPO provide a digital library with collection of patent documents in English?

Yes, JPO offers the free access to patent documents. Majority of the currently-published Japanese patent documents are also available in the machine-translated English. You may access to the Japanese patent documents via J-Plat Pat (Japan Platform of Patent Information) offered by JPO, from the URL below.

What are the patent documents that are digitally available from JPO?

JPO provides around 55.5 million documents and their relevant information digitally since the end of the 19th century; however, the documents available in the machine-translated English are limited.

Here are the documents digitally accessible through JPO:
- Published patent application: after 1971
- Patent: after 1996
- Patent specification: after 1885
- Japanese translation of PCT international application: after 1979
- Examined patent application publication: after 1922
- Registered utility model: after 1994
- Unexamined utility model specification: after 1971
- Published utility model application: after 1971
- Examined utility model application publication: after 1922
- Examined utility model registration: after 1996
- Examined utility model specification: after 1905

How do you search Japanese patents using the patent publication number?

1. Go to:

2. Click “Patent & Utility Model Gazette DB”

3. Once you are accessed to the “Patent & Utility Model Number Search”, select “kind”, type in the “Document Number” and click “Search” button For example, if you would like to obtain the document for the JP Publication No. 2012-130564, you will select “A: Publication of patent application” for under the Kind menu and type “2012-130564” as the document number.

4. By clicking “Search” the result page showing a list of patent number(s) appears.

5. By selecting the patent number, the machine-translated abstract of the Japanese patent is displayed.

6. By clicking the “Legal Status” button, the current status of the application will be displayed on a separate window.


7. By selecting the “Detail”, the machine-translated specification is displayed.


What are the patent documents provided by the JPO via J-Plat Pat?

J-Plat Pat provides the following patent documents:
- Unexamined & Published Patent Application
- Examined & Published Patent Application*1
- Registered Patent

J-Plat Pat also provides the following utility model documents:
- Unexamined & Published Utility Model Application*2
- Examined & Published Utility Model Application*1
- Registered Utility Model

*1: Before December 2003, examined applications were published, for allowing the third-party to file an opposition. Since the opposition system was repealed on January 2004, the examined application will not be published before the registration. You may still search the patent documents using the examined & published patent application number.
*2: The utility model application filed after January 1, 1994, will be registered without going through the publication process. You may still search the utility model documents using the unexamined & published utility model application number.

How do you input the publication number for patent documents published from JPO on 1999 or before?

Use the chart below as a reference for identifying the JP publication number.

AD JP Era JP Publication No.
1976 Showa 51 S52-xxxxxx
1976 Showa 52 S52-xxxxxx
1978 Showa 53 S52-xxxxxx
1979 Showa 54 S52-xxxxxx
1980 Showa 55 S52-xxxxxx
1981 Showa 56 S52-xxxxxx
1982 Showa 57 S52-xxxxxx
1983 Showa 58 S52-xxxxxx
1984 Showa 59 S52-xxxxxx
1985 Showa 60 S52-xxxxxx
1986 Showa 61 S52-xxxxxx
1987 Showa 62 S52-xxxxxx
1988 Showa 63 S63-xxxxxx
1989 Heisei 1 H01-xxxxxx
1990 Heisei 2 H02-xxxxxx
1991 Heisei 3 H03-xxxxxx
1992 Heisei 4 H04-xxxxxx
1993 Heisei 5 H05-xxxxxx
1994 Heisei 6 H06-xxxxxx
1995 Heisei 7 H07-xxxxxx
1996 Heisei 8 H08-xxxxxx
1997 Heisei 9 H09-xxxxxx
1998 Heisei 10 H10-xxxxxx
1999 Heisei 11 H11-xxxxxx


Patent Laws Characteristic to Japanese Practice

What are the official languages for the JPO?

Regardless of the applicant’s nationality, the applicant may file a patent application in any language specified by Ordinance of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and obtain the Japanese filing date. It is a highly beneficial program particularly for foreign applicants who wishes to claim a foreign priority but does not have time to prepare the Japanese translation before the priority deadline.

The applicant who initially filed the patent application with JPO must file the Japanese translation of the foreign language application within 14-months from the priority date. If the translation is not submitted within the given time period, the application is deemed to be withdrawn.

What are the Japanese Patentable Subject Matter & Unpatentable Subject Matter under the JP patent law?

Japanese Patent Law states that the invention must be industrially applicable (Art. 29(1)). Although the Japanese patent prosecution system is similar to the systems in other countries, there are some additional unpatentable subject matters unique to Japanese prosecution procedure.

1. The invention must be “the highly advanced creation of technical ideas by which a law of nature is utilized” (Art.2 (1)). Scientific discoveries, natural phenomena, ideas contrary to the laws of nature, personal activities and mental activities are not considered to be patentable.

2. According to Article 29(1) of Japanese Patent Law, the invention must be industrially applicable. From the ethical perspective, the Japanese Patent Law does not consider the medical industries as an “industry”, and declares that the methods related to medical treatment, diagnosing a human or performing an operation should be open to the public.
Although the methods associated with the medical treatment of a human being is not patentable under the Japanese Patent Law, the products used for medically-treating a human being, such as medicine, medical apparatus and method for manufacturing medicine, are patentable.

3. Business Method Inventions: In Japanese practice, business methods are normally accepted as patentable subject matters, as long as the method includes a technical aspect. This may be accomplished simply by including a computer in a business method or including a concept that uses the Law of Nature.

What are the criteria for applying the grace period?

The applicant may apply for the grace period in order to avoid the rejection on a basis of the applicant’s disclosure. For all applications filed on or after April 2, 2012, the criteria for grace period is “(1) where an invention has become publicly known "as a result of an act of the person having the right to obtain a patent" (except for patent, utility model, design and trade mark applications published anywhere in the world), and (2) where an invention is unintentionally disclosed to the public.”

Can we claim the grace period to avoid rejection over the lack of inventive steps?

The examiner may not reject the application due to the lack of inventiveness on the basis of the invention for which a grace period is granted. For example, if the inventor discloses the invention and later files the improved application under the special rule of exception during the grace period, the examiner may not refuse the application on a basis of the previous disclosure by the inventor or the assignee of the application.

When can we file the divisional application?

TERM A. Patent Applications Filed before April 1, 2007:
The time periods for filing the divisional application are listed as below. Due to the provision of the previous Japanese Patent Law, the divisional application cannot be filed once the application has been allowed for registration.

1. After filing the application: the applicant may file a divisional application anytime until receiving the first Office Action.
2. After receiving the first Office Action: the applicant may file a divisional application during the designated time period to reply to the Office Action.
3. After receiving the Final Decision of Rejection: the applicant can file a divisional application at the same time of filing the appeal.

TERM B. Patent Applications Filed after April 1, 2007:
The time periods for filing the divisional application are listed as below:

1. After filing the application: the applicant may file a divisional application anytime until receiving the Office Action.
2. After receiving the First Office Action: the applicant may file a divisional application during the designated time period to reply to the Office Action.
3. After receiving the Decision of Grant: the applicant may file a divisional application within 30-days from receiving the Decision of Grant or before the patent application is registered.
4. After receiving the Final Decision of Rejection: the applicant may file a divisional application within 3-months from the date that the Final Decision of Rejection was issued.

There was a mistranslation of the Japanese patent application filed in English. Is there any way to correct mistranslation in claims and specification?

The foreign language document describes the contents of the invention at the time of filing. Although the Japanese translation is regarded as the description, claims and drawings of the previously-filed foreign language application, it is not uncommon to find translation mistakes after filing the translation of the foreign language application. If translation error was found, the applicant may correct the translation error by filing the Correction of Mistranslation. The applicant may correct the translation within the disclosure of the foreign language document.
The time period that the applicant is allowed to file the Correction of Mistranslation is the same as the time period for amending specification, claims and drawings.

We received the office action (reason for refusal) from JPO. Is it possible to incorporate features which are only described in the specification but not in the original claims into claims?

When you are responding to the non-final OA, it is possible to incorporate features which are only described in the specification into claims, as long as the original invention and the invention after the amendment shares the same STF (special technical features). Japanese Patent Act Article 17bis(4) states that the applicant is prohibited to change the claimed invention into a "different" invention which fails to comply with the unity of invention requirement with the originally claimed invention of which the patentability has already been examined.
For final OA, the amendment is limited to (i) the deletion of a claims; (ii) restriction of the scope of claims; (iii) the correction of errors; and (iv) the clarification of an ambiguous statement (limited to the matters stated in the reasons for refusal in the notice of reasons for refusal).

The following URL (from JPO website) provides the requirements for amending claims in more detail.

We understand that, if the application includes more than one invention concept, the examiner examines the first set of claims and do not examine the remaining claims which do not share the same STF as the first set of claims. How does the examiner handle the unexamined claims? Does the JP examiner allow the applicant to select one set of claims?

The set of claims which do not share the STF with the first set of claims is left unexamined. The examiner will automatically examine the first set of claims and issue the notice of reason for refusal under the article 37 (failing to comply with the unity of invention). The applicant will not have an opportunity to select a set of claims.

Could you explain the claim-dependency for the Japanese practice?

JPO accepts multiple dependent claims, meaning that a multiple dependent claim can serve as a basis for another multiple dependent claims, which is similar to European practice. There is no additional official fee for including the multipully-dependent claims in the application. Under Japanese Patent Law, the official fee for examination request and annuity depends on the number of claims in the application. (This practice is adopted only in Japan and Korea.) Therefore, the applicant is recommended to reduce the number of claims and include the multiple-dependent claims in the application.

An official fee for the request for examination and annuity depends upon the number of claims. It is recommended that the number of the dependent claims be reduced at the time of filing a request for examination.

Example of Claim Dependency under the Japanese Patent Practice

1. An apparatus comprising a component A.
2. The apparatus comprising the component A of claim 1, wherein the apparatus further comprises a component B.
3. The apparatus according to any one of claims 1 or 2, further comprising an apparatus C.
4. The apparatus according to any one of claims 1, 2 or 3, further comprising a method D.

In this example, the multiple-dependent claim 3 serves as a basis for the multiple dependent claim 4.

When can we file the Accelerate JP Examination?

If the application meets at least one of the criteria listed below, the applicant may request to accelerate the application procedure with JPO.

1. Working-related applications
2. Internationally-filed applications
3. Applications filed by small entities, individuals, universities, public research institutes and approved TLOs
4. Green-technology related applications
5. Earthquake Disaster Recovery Support-related program for applicants who have an address or residence in the affected areas of the 2011 earthquake (effective August 1, 2011)

Under the accelerated examination procedure, the JPO typically dispatches the first Office Action within 4 to 6 months from date that the accelerated examination was requested (compared to 12 months for regular applications). The applicant must file the examination request along with or before filing the accelerated examination request. The accelerated examination request must include the written explanation describing the circumstance for filing the accelerated examination.

The following URL provides the information regarding the accelerated examination in more detail.

Does JPO issue more than one reason for refusal before issuing the final decision of refusal?

The JPO does not specifically set a number of reason for refusal before giving the final decision. However, in many cases, the JPO issues one notice of reason for refusal before giving the final decision. The later notice of reason for refusal is notified only for the case where 1) the reasons for refusal which could not be found when the first notice of reasons for refusal was made though they should have been indicated by the examiner at that time, or 2) the notice of reason for refusal is necessitated by the amendment.

When we receive the Final Decision of Rejection, what should we do next? How can we amend claims?

If the examiner submits the Final Decision of Rejection, the applicant who still wishes to obtain a right may file an appeal against the examiner’s decision of rejection. The applicant is allowed to file the amendment along with the appeal; however, the amendment must be limited to narrowing the present claims or clarifying ambiguity. The set of claims introducing new matters will be rejected.

Under the JP patent law, whenever the amendment is filed along with the appeal against examiner’s decision of rejection, the examiner who examined the application reexamines the amended application before proceeding to the trial by the appeal board. If the examiner considers that the rejection have been overcome by the amendment, the examiner cancels the previous decision and issues the Decision to Grant. If the amendment does not dissolve the reasons for refusal, the examiner reports to the Commissioner of the Patent Office without rendering a judgment.

The appeal board examines the application if 1) amendment was not filed along with the appeal, or 2) the examiner reported to the Commissioner of the Patent Office. The Decision of Grant will be issued if the appeal board alleges that the previous rejections by the examiner have been overcome. If the appeal board maintains the examiner’s rejection, the trial decision will be issued. After receiving the trial decision, the application dissatisfied with the trial decision may file an appeal against the Intellectual Property High Court (Art. 178)

When we withdraw a JP patent application, can we receive refund of the Examination Fee?

If the applicant filed the examination request but decided to actively withdraw the patent application, the person who filed the request for examination may request to refund 1/2 of the official fee of the request for examination. In order to receive refund, the applicant must actively withdraw the application and the person who filed the examination request must request the refund within 6-months from the withdrawal. If the request for examination was filed by a person who does not have a permanent address in Japan, the refund may be requested only through the representative in Japan. After the first Office Action was dispatched, the refund request will be rejected.

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