Japanese utility model application is one of the ways to protect you patent in Japan besides invention patent and industrial design. In Japan, a utility model may be registered without a substantive examination as long as the utility model application meets both the basic and formal requirements. The period of a utility model right is ten years from the date of filing of the utility model application. The period may not be extended.
In Japan, any utility model that has been disclosed before an application has been filed to register that utility model will basically not be able to be registered. Therefore, you are highly advised not to publish or disclose your utility model before you file your application to register your utility model.
According to Article 7 of the Utility Model Act, when two or more applications are filed for a utility model on different dates, only the applicant who filed the application first will be entitled to register that utility model. This is called the "First-to-File" principle. This means that if any other applicants file applications for the same utility model after the first applicant has applied, those later applications will be refused.
If anybody else files an application for the same device as your device on an earlier date than you file an application for your device, your utility model registration can be invalidated (Article 37, Utility Model Act). Therefore, if you intend to protect your device as a utility model registration, you must pay attention to the principle.
Procedures for Obtaining a Utility Model Right
(1) File the application
Patent applications do not necessarily require the attachment of drawings; but in the case of utility model applications, their attachment is compulsory. In addition to the application fee, registration fee for the first three years must be paid at the time of filing.
In contrast to patent applications, there is no system of request for examination for applications for utility model registration. Having no substantive examination of whether the application is novel and involves an inventive step, the examination will check simply the basic requirements in addition to the conventional formality check.
For all applications which have passed the formality check as well as satisfying the basic requirements, the registration of the utility model right will be instituted without going through a substantive examination. However, as mentioned above, the registration fee for the first to third years must be paid at the time of filing.
(4) Publication of Utility Model Gazette
When the utility model right has been registered, the JPO publishes the details of the claimed device in the official gazette to lay it open to the public as the first publication.
If you have further inquires, please do not hesitate to contact Tannet at anytime, anywhere by simply visiting Tannet’s website www.tannet-group.net, or calling Hong Kong hotline at 852-27826888 or China hotline at 86-755-82143422, or emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to visit our office situated in 16/F, Taiyangdao Bldg 2020, Dongmen Rd South, Luohu, Shenzhen, China.
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