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  • Greetings for the New Year 2020

Greetings for the New Year 2020


Happy New Year.  I would like to start off the milestone year of 2020 by wishing you all a wonderful new year.   
 Six months have already passed since I assumed my post as chairperson of the JIPA at the end of May of last year.
 In May 2019, the Reiwa era began in the Japanese calendar. The Emperor's gorgeous enthronement ceremony and parade that took place following the beginning of the new era are still fresh in my mind. As chairperson of the JIPA, I personally attended the enthronement ceremony held on October 22, where I sincerely felt the advent of the new era. In October, the consumption tax rate was raised to 10% for products and services excluding some household consumables. Government policies for promoting spread of cashless payments such as payments by credit cards and electronic money significantly transformed Japanese people's lifestyles and purchase behaviors. In the international community, the geopolitical climate became further uncertain due to the U.S.-China trade war, downturn in the Chinese economy and IT-related needs, a no-deal Brexit, etc. As a result, global economic growth decelerated further in 2019, simultaneously causing stagnation in multiple countries around the world.
 Meanwhile, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled to take place from July to September, tourist needs are expected to boost the domestic economy. I am very excited about Tokyo 2020 since this is the second Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo following the first Games held 56 years ago in 1964 and the first Olympic Games to be held in Japan since the 1998 Winter Olympics, which took place in Nagano 22 years ago. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy bottomed out in 2019 and it is expected to recover gradually in 2020. This is because major economies are promoting monetary easing policies to underpin the economy. Since the global economy is expected to grow steadily unless the U.S.-China trade war intensifies, we will keep an eye on the U.S. presidential election scheduled to take place in November.

 In the 2020s, our society is expected to go through Digital Transformation (DX) because of further advancements in information technology, including IoT, big data and artificial intelligence (AI), resulting in improved quality of life. In addition, new technological innovations such as 5G, drones, autonomous driving, 3D printing and blockchains will be available in markets while the industrial structure and the business environment are dynamically shifting their focuses from tangible goods (products) to intangible goods (services), competition to collaborative creation and ownership to shared ownership, delivering new business models and business ecosystems. Furthermore, as data dominance by American and Chinese companies such as GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) advances, next-generation hegemonic competition will revolve around utilizing and applying real data that is obtained from onsite digital sensors, operating devices, robots, etc. as well as virtual data available on the Internet. Various data, which is sometimes called "the oil of the 21st century," will become even more important. I believe that Japanese companies are tasked with strategically converting IP in a broad sense, including not only patents and know-how but also data, into industrial competitive advantages.
 Furthermore, start-ups are attracting attention for their initiatives in open innovation. In the U.S. and China, many rapidly growing start-ups known as unicorns (unlisted technology companies valued at over $1 billion that are less than 10 years old) are emerging as economic leaders. Unfortunately, in Japan, start-ups so far receive a limited amount of investment and they are not proactive in forming partnerships. However, I believe we will need to actively get involved as an IP authority in order to promote open innovation.
 Regarding a new trend in the IP system, "the Act on the Partial Revision of the Patent Act and Other Acts (Act No. 3, 2019)" will come into effect on April 1, 2020 after passing the Diet last year. This means that the IP system will be significantly transformed to meet the needs of the era through revision of the current methods of calculating damages, expansion of the scope of protection under the Design Act, etc. The Patent System Subcommittee of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Industrial Structure Council has an ongoing discussion about a patent system that is suitable for the era of AI and IoT technologies and our association is actively participating and sharing our viewpoints to improve the patent system.

 Until now, Japanese companies have focused on their advanced manufacturing and high levels of reliability as their strengths to launch superior products and services in global markets while utilizing IP as tools for strengthening their industrial competitive advantages. IP authorities have been proactively developing management strategies such as M&A strategies based on IP-related information and open and closed IP strategies from technical and IP-related information. While this practice will continue, the roles of IP authorities are changing as the scope of IP is expanding under the new industrial structure brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Society 5.0. For example, IP plays a vital role in making innovations available in markets and defining the value and brands of innovative products and services. We need to accurately understand the changing social situations surrounding IP to reflect them in our daily IP-related activities.
 Our association provides a shared IP platform where our members from various industries engage in healthy competition through participating in expert panels, projects, etc. I fully realize high expectations are placed on us as a driving force for Japan's IP activities as the environment surrounding the industrial world is changing significantly. In the milestone year of 2020, we will continuously study IP systems and government policies and provide the government with proposals and viewpoints while incorporating your opinions and requests as the world's leading IP authority as well as contributing to developing the next generation of IP leaders. I ask all members of JIPA for your continued support and cooperation.
 I would like to conclude by wishing all of us a productive and meaningful year.

January 2020
Chairperson of JIPA
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