JIPA chairman reaffirms commitment to Japan's IP future

Innovative and competitive

New JIPA chairman reaffirms commitment to Japan”Ēs IP future

The Japan Intellectual Property Association is a unique and distinguished organization in terms of its size - 903 corporate and 248 group members, as of June 6 - and its 69-year history, as well as its position of respect in the public and private sectors.

Dr. Tamotsu Nomakuchi, chairman of Mitsubishi Electric Corp., is the new chairman of the JIPA. He also serves as chairman of the IP Committee of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the country's economic power-house, with a membership of 1,351 companies, 130 industrial, associations and 47 regional economic organizations. His views on the activities and stance of the JIPA are introduced below.

The JIPA has enjoyed a constant tail wind since 2002, when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi committed himself to making intellectual property Japan's foothold in the future. We are thus renewing our determination to build up the competitive power and the IP culture of Japan as a nation.

Bearing such a goal in mind, our activities have three main pillars:

First is to provide our insight on the IP promotion plan from a global perspective. To this end, we offer specific suggestions on employee inventions and patents.

Second is to take an active role in IP activities not only domestically but internationally. This is done under the leadership of Japan's national authority, namely the Patent Office.

Third is the training and development of IP personnel, including young people who are well versed in IP-related issues. We hold roughly 90 training courses every year because we believe the training of IP professionals is crucial together with the mounting importance of IP strategies in business operations. This is more so since the use of acquired IP rights could easily affect the business results of any company. In fact, IP is becoming a base knowledge for an increasing majority of those in today's corporate arena. One prominent example is the evolution of IP trusts for acquiring capital that has come to involve the financial staff of companies.

Today, many leading Japanese corporations are tackling the issue seriously, developing IP specialist staff members and sections. But this is often not the case among small and medium-size enterprises. Discrepancies also exist among regions while universities lack IP management professionals. To overcome such conditions, the JIPA is consolidating an IP personnel database of retired IP professionals from leading companies. Tapping into such an experienced and qualified manpower resource is also being looked at by the government.

In terms of our global strategy, we find the international standardization of patents an extremely significant move, and encourage domestic standards to follow the international standard. To achieve a global patent system in the future, we have discussed among the trilateral industry (Japan: the JIPA; the United States: the IPO and AIPLA; and the European Union: Business Europe) how to acquire the same patents easily and at a low cost at trilateral patent offices step by step, i.e., first, one application (same format to conform to the Patent Cooperation Treaty), second, one search, third, one examination, and lastly, one patent, to begin with. Various circles in Japan are critical of the overt fondness of the U.S. for the first-to-file principle. At the same time; we try to maintain the close relationship and ties with Europe that we have built over the years because we share a basic stance on piracy and fake product issues.

On a national basis, Japan should stop the inflow of imitations through legal efforts and negotiations. Companies and industries in different business areas should be urged to join hands to halt the inflow of such illegal items. By doing so, the government, Ied by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, can take a dynamic counterstep. It is also important to educate countries that serve as the origin of fake products and imitations. On a private level, we think it vital for Japanese citizens to become more aware of the issue and stop buying such products.

As a future step for Japan, the JIPA considers it important for the country to accelerate its innovation activities. This should be done by promoting cooperation among all involved parties, including industry, academia and government sectors. (Michiru Yoshino)


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