IP information

JPO announces that the opposition cases exceeded 1000

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) announced that the total number of JP patents which were opposed after the introduction of the new opposition system reached 1001.

According to the JPO statistical data as of July 29, 2016, the number of opposed patents in 2016 was 87 in January, 111 in February, 97 in March, 118 in April, 121 in May. This indicates that roughly 100 patents were opposed every month and that the number of opposed patents tends to increase.

Assuming that an average of 100 patents are opposed per month under the new opposition system, the total of opposed patents per year would be about 1200. In contrast, under the opposition system which was discontinued at the end of 2003, the number of opposed patents was 3150 in 2002 and 3896 in 2003 - more than 3000 patents were annually opposed. That is, the number of opposition cases under the new opposition system which came into effect in April 2015 seems to have dropped drastically.

On the other hand, the number of patents granted is continuously increasing with about 120,000 patents being issued in 2003, and about 190,000 patents being issued in 2015. Also, the new opposition system might be considered to be opponent friendly with its allowing of straw man opponents and the submission of arguments when the patent is amended. Nevertheless, the new opposition system seems not so widely used as the old opposition system.

The seemingly lower popularity of the new system must have to do with the costs for preparing and filing oppositions, the workload of monitoring and addressing patent amendments, other options such as third party observations, invalidation trials, etc.

The JPO's announcement includes an IPC code breakdown of the opposition cases.

Section A (HUMAN NECESSITIES): 202 cases


Section C (CHEMISTRY; METALLURGY): 295 cases

Section D (TEXTILES; PAPER): 32 cases

Section E (FIXED CONSTRUCTIONS): 22 cases


Section G (PHYSICS): 102 cases

Section H (ELECTRICITY): 133 cases

As seen from the above breakdown, Section A and Section C oppositions, mainly biotech cases, pharmaceutical cases, foodstuff cases, and chemical cases are more numerous than the rest of the sections.

According to the statistical data on first actions issued in the new opposition procedures, 28.8% of the opposed patents received decisions to be maintained as granted immediately after the patents were opposed, while 71.2% of cases were issued notifications of revocation. Nevertheless, with less than a year and a half since the new opposition system was introduced, many opposition cases have not been finalized. (The JPO has not made available data on cases having received final decisions.) As opposed patents accumulate, statistic data on patents maintained as granted (or after amending) and revoked patents will be revealed.

The JPO's announcement can be viewed at http://www.jpo.go.jp/torikumi_e/t_torikumi_e/status_oppositions_note_procedures.htm .

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