EPO/EUIPO Support Office

Our office is pleased to assist you with the application procedures and protection of intellectual property rights in Europe and Japan, and to respond quickly and appropriately to your diverse requests. We have opened the EPO/EUIPO Support Office.

The EPO/EUIPO Support Office provides prompt and appropriate advice in response to your requests, questions, and consultations regarding intellectual property rights in Europe, as well as providing a variety of high-quality services. We aim to be helpful to everyone.

Currently, dedicated staff are assigned to the EPO/EUIPO Support Office, and while coordinating with related staff as appropriate, we are creating a system that can support European customers in acquiring intellectual property rights in Japan, as well as Japanese customers. We have established a system that can support operations such as acquiring intellectual property rights in Europe.

If you have any requests, questions or consultations regarding intellectual property rights in Europe or Japan, please feel free to contact our EPO/EUIPO Support Office. All the staff at the EPO/EUIPO Support Office are looking forward to hearing from you.

EPO/EUIPO Support Office Manager Yasutaka Okabe


System comparison

A simple comparison of patent laws in Japan, the UK, and the US

Reasons for non-patentability Violation of public order and morals ・Discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods,
artistic creations, mental acts, and compositions
computer programs, information
treatment, surgery or treatment
・Violation of public order and morals, plant/animal variants


There are no special provisions in the Patent Act.
definition of invention

technological ideas that utilize natural laws
advanced creations

Industrially applicable
Production in industrial fields including agriculture
or what is available
New and useful machines, products and processes
compositions and their improvements;
Novelty ・Not disclosed in prior art
・Publications, publicly known and publicly available worldwide
・Exception for loss of novelty is 6 months
・Does not form part of the technical level
・Publications, publicly known and publicly available worldwide
・Exception for loss of novelty is 6 months
・Disclosed in the prior art before the invention date
Not in
・Publications are available worldwide, public information is available in the United States.
・Grace period is one year
inventive step
A person skilled in the art can easily make an invention
If this is not possible, the patent will not be granted.
To be
Industrially applicable, novel and advanced
A patent is granted for an invention that has a
Differences between the subject matter of the invention and the prior art arise
For those skilled in the art, the overall
A patent may be granted if it is not obvious
To be
Examination criteria ・ After understanding the technical level,
that a person could easily come up with an invention
Whether or not it is possible to logicalize
The inventive step is denied if

・ The claimed invention and the cited invention
Compare and identify similarities and differences
and the existence of an inventive step based on common technical knowledge
can you deny

・ Is it just a design change or a known technology?
A collection of or cited inventions
Is there a motivation for

・Description of advantageous effects in the specification
Consideration for affirmation of inventive step

・Does it exceed the normal progress of technology?

・The invention shall be interpreted as a whole and
Is it self-evident as a body?

・ Is it just a collection of known technologies?

・Issue/solution approach
(1) Identification of the closest prior art
(2) Identifying objective technical issues
(3) Would-Could approach
(4) Combination of prior art

・Judgment based on precedent

・Certification of the scope and content of prior art
・Consideration of secondary matters
・Compatibility between the prior art and the claimed invention
・Determination of the technical level of a person skilled in the art

・TSM test is the only obviousness test
It does not meet the criteria.
・The obviousness test is more
Non-restrictive and flexible
・There are many different ways to determine obviousness.
tests can be applied
・The examiner should consider the combination of prior art
A finding that it is obvious based on the
If so, provide clear grounds to the applicant.
must be shown
・Cited documents are the work of the patentee.
Solve the exact same problem as the problem
It doesn't have to be something you're trying to do
・As a test for obviousness,
Using “It is obvious to try”
possible to use
・In order to determine obviousness, it is necessary to
Interrelated teachings in the literature
Contents, known and requested by those skilled in the art
effects, background knowledge of those skilled in the art, etc.
You can turn your attention to it.
・Is there an unforeseen effect?
・Solved by the claimed invention
issues that were previously unknown



Design system simple comparison table

  Europe Japan
Protection target icons, typefaces, logos and graphics
Protect characters, buildings, store designs, etc.
The subjects are wide-ranging. Designs are not subject to protection in Japan.
Even if it is not, it is widely protected as a design in Europe.
There is a possibility
Due to the revision of the Design Law, images (with certain requirements), architecture
Designs of objects and interiors are also subject to protection under the Design Law.
became. Therefore, icons, buildings,
Store designs, etc. are protected by design law, just like in Europe.
vinegar. However, it is tied to typefaces and objects.
Logos and graphic characters that do not exist are subject to protection.
it won't work.
Examination system Unregistered Community Design (UCD)
Became available to the public by publication within the EU
as a requirement for the creation of rights,UnregisteredProtect your design with
vinegar. A provision similar to Article 2, Paragraph 1, Item 3 of Japan's Unfair Competition Prevention Act.
Registered Community Design (RCD)
Apply to EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), etc.registered
This gives rise to rights. Here, we will mainly focus on
I will explain about RCD.
All applied designs are subject to formal examination and substantive examination.
Will be.
Examination period The characteristic of the examination is that it is very fast, and in the case of electronic application,
Registration will take approximately one week. In addition, the priority certificate
If you have all the necessary documents such as certificates, it will be registered in 2 days.
Will be.
If you want to keep your design private until the product launch,
Public notice postponement system
must be used.
It takes about 6 to 7 months on average.
Examination contents Partial examination principle
① Does it fall under a “design” under the law? ② Does it violate public order and morals?
Only the requirements are examined, and in reality, there is almost no examination.
can do. Novelty, originality, etc. are not subject to review.
It is determined by the invalidation trial.
Your application will be examined to see if it falls under any of the reasons for refusal.
(Eligibility as a design, novelty, ease of creation, public order)
violation of morals, etc.)
If these are violated, the application will be rejected.
Registration requirements Novelty
Whether it would have been known to a person skilled in the art within the European Union, substantially identical
It is determined by
Publicly known design and distribution in Japan or abroad
Designs described in publications, public communication through telecommunication lines
A design that has become available can be registered.
No, the decision-maker is the consumer.
Priority made available to the public before the filing date (priority date)
Design and Community Designinformed user
(informed users), resulting in a “different overall impression”
It is considered to have originality. Ma
Ta,Consider the freedom of the designerThen the designer
Parts that can be designed freely (beyond functionally determined shapes)
It is determined by whether or not the outer part) is common.
difficulty of creation
Before filing an application for design registration, check the standard in the field to which the design belongs.
A person with ordinary knowledge of the
Well-known shapes, patterns, etc. (abstractions that are not related to objects)
design motifs) can be easily created based on
A design that has been successfully created cannot be registered as a design.
you can't. Placing some of the constituent elements of a design in another design
Designs that are simply replaced or combinations of multiple designs
This applies to designs that are simply a collection of materials.
The person making the decision is a person skilled in the art, such as a designer.
Design based on technical functionality
External features that have only a technical function are considered design rights.
There are alternative designs that have similar functions.
Even if you prove it, it will not be accepted.
Interlocking (must fit) design
Like plugs and sockets, each can be connected to other products.
Products are manufactured in the necessary shape in order to perform their functions.
Must fit designs are not permitted.
Design based on technical functionality
Design rights protect objects that create a sense of beauty through the sense of sight.
It needs to be something special, like a work of art.
Beauty is not necessary; it must be something that creates some sense of beauty.
That's enough. Therefore, it has only a sense of beauty based on function.
Those that do this are also recognized as subject to design registration.
However, like a reflector for a satellite dish,
A shape that is necessarily determined to ensure the technical function of an article
Designs consisting only of (inevitable shapes) and JIS standards
In order to ensure the compatibility of products, standards have been established.
A design consisting only of more determined shapes (quasi-necessary shapes)
Not accepted.
Visibility of internal structure of composite products
Multiple components that can be replaced, disassembled, and reassembled
A “composite product” consisting ofto the end user
"During normal use"
Design of internal structure that cannot be visually recognized
is not allowed. (Even if it is visible only during repair, it is not registered.)
For example, automobile parts under the hood cannot be
Not protected.
Parts that are not visible during normal use by the end user
Even if it is a design of a product, if it can be visually recognized during distribution, etc.
Recognized as a master craftsman. Therefore, under the hood
Auto parts are also protected.
Exception to loss of novelty grace period
This is a provision that corresponds to the exception to the loss of novelty in Japan, and the filing date
(priority date) within 12 months before the creator (successor), etc.
In particular, even if the
Even if you don't look at it, it can affect the judgment of novelty and originality.
Exception to loss of novelty
If it is within 6 months from the time of publication, follow the prescribed procedures.
(except in cases where it is publicly known against one's will)
It is deemed that the novelty has not been lost.
Duration U.C.D. : From the date of public availability in the EU3
Annual, cannot be renewed
R.C.D. : 5 years from application, up to 25 years with renewal
will be protected
The design will be protected for 20 years from the date of registration.
Scope of rights The scope of design rights may be affected by the name of the product.
plug. As long as the design has the same form, the design is valid even if the products are different.
Care must be taken as this is subject to copyright.
Designs are identified by the "article" and "form."
Therefore, even if the designs have the same form, the products may be different.
If so, in principle, the design right does not apply.
Multiple design application If the Locarno classification (subclass) is the same, the designs are similar.
Even if they are not similar, up to 99 designs can be submitted at once in the case of electronic filing.
can be included in the request. Also, in exercising rights
is treated as an independent right.
We have adopted a one-design, one-application system, and one application per application.
You can only apply for designs. Multiple designs included in one application
If it is rejected, it will be rejected as a violation of Article 7.
partial design A design is defined as “the appearance of all or part of a product…”
Partial designs are also subject to protection.
“A design is the shape of an article (including parts of an article (omitted))”
shape, pattern, or color, or a combination thereof, which is visually
Something that evokes a sense of beauty through the senses. ” is defined as
Partial designs are also subject to protection.
Related designs The related design system is not adopted. Variations created from a single design concept
A design similar to the original design can be recognized by meeting the prescribed requirements.
It is subject to protection as a similar related design and is unique.
It has the effect of
secret design We do not use a secret design system. There is a secret design system.
Release date Because the examination process is very fast, the design is kept private until the product is announced.
If you want to keep it,Public notice postponement systemto use
I can. Period within 30 months from the filing date (priority date)
If so, you can request a postponement of publication at the time of filing.
By using the secret design system, from the date of design registration
The specific contents of a registered design cannot be kept secret for up to three years.
You can. This will determine when the registered design will be implemented.
You can match the release date.
Application Description of the design
You can submit an explanatory statement about the design, but
It is not published in the official gazette or the register, and it does not affect the scope of rights.
I won't give it.
Enter the product name other than the product classification specified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
In the [Description of the article to which the design relates] column,
Understand the item, such as the purpose of use and the condition of use, etc.
You can include a helpful explanation. This description is public
It will be recorded in the report and register.
図 面 There is a limit to the number of drawings that can be submitted, and up to 7 drawings can be submitted.
Masu. The drawings are relatively free to express, for example, the characteristics of the store.
You can submit photos of the parts. in use condition
If there is a characteristic, please submit a diagram showing the usage condition.
You should consider it. You can also submit photos or CG.
There is no limit to the number of drawings submitted, but six-sided drawings are
Required. The role of recognizing the form of the article related to the design
The examination of drawings has become much more lenient than before.
However, the examination of the consistency of each drawing is relatively strict.
is. You can also submit photos or CG.




Documents required at the time of application

Specification, one or more claims
Drawings (if mentioned in the specification, etc.)
Summary etc.
Application fee

 It is possible to file an EP patent application in a language other than the language of an EPC member state. However, a translation (in English, German, or French) must be completed within one month after filing. If the translation is not completed within this period, it will be possible to receive a translation submission instruction from the EPO and complete the translation within a specified period (within two months).

 In addition, documents such as specifications and drawings can be submitted by notifying the EPO of the bibliographic information (country of application, filing date, application number) of the Japanese patent application, which is the basis for claiming priority of the EP patent application. It is also possible to secure a filing date for an EP patent application without having to do so. In this case, a copy of the Japanese patent application and its translation (in English, German, or French) must be submitted within two months from the filing date.




EP intellectual property information

About the Unified Patent and the Unified Patent Court



European Parliament agrees to “enhanced cooperation” for the Unified Patent Court.


European Parliament approves increased cooperation on establishing a unified patent system. With this, the creation of a formal bill for a new unified patent system has begun.


The European Commission has presented a draft law on unified European patent protection.



The final form of the Unified Patent Court and the Unified Patent Litigation System is established.


The main contents of the European Council's final agreement regarding grant and enforcement under the unified patent system are as follows.

  • The Unified Patent Court is scheduled to come into force in 2014-2015, and the pre-grant and opposition procedures will be essentially the same as the current EPO patent process.
  • The validation process after a unified patent is issued can be carried out only in the official languages ​​English, French, and German (significantly reducing costs).
  • The first instance of infringement proceedings can be held in any member state except Spain and Poland, but the primary technical court, which handles all issues and appeals regarding patent validity, is the so-called Central Division. Headquarters are located in ). Specialist Sections will be opened in London (for chemistry, medicine and life sciences) and Munich (for mechanical engineering).
  • All EU member countries (excluding Spain and Italy) can be covered by lump-sum payment of patent maintenance pension.

About the Unified Patent Court

Overview of the EU unified patent system

On December 2012, 12, the European Parliament approved two draft regulations regarding the unified patent system by a majority vote.Did. This paves the way for the long-awaited Unified Patent Court to come into force. The Unified Patent CourtEffective early 2014It is said that in this case,First European unified patent issued in 2014Will be done.

With the entry into force of the Unitary Patent System, unitary patents will be issued in 25 EU Member States (excluding Spain and Italy) with only one administrative step. In this case, the EPO will carry out the work and manage the unitary patent.

The unitary patent will coexist with national patents of each member state and with EP patents based on the EPC. Also,Under the unified patent system, the legal basis and patent granting procedures are the same as for EP patents based on the current EPC, but the post-grant system is different.Applicants must decide within one month after granting whether to treat the granted patent application as a unitary patent or to proceed in each country's national phase as an EP patent under the EPC.

The Unified Patent System employs a system in which the EPO centrally manages patents, collects annual renewal fees in one lump sum, and distributes them to each member state participating in the Unified Patent System. Furthermore, if the applicant is a small entity, the annual renewal fees seem to be reduced.

In addition, For patent owners who do not want to risk having their patents invalidated in all member states, there is also the option of obtaining and maintaining national patents in at least a handful of countries.At least 13 member states must ratify the above package of new regulations before the unitary patent system enters into force, but at present, as mentioned above, it is expected that the first unitary patent will be issued in 2014. It is said that

Furthermore, since a unitary patent is treated as the only patent that is common to all member countries, it is difficult for each member country to make the patent legally valid (translation procedures for entering the national phase by submitting translations, etc.) and manage it. there is no. As a result, the applicant:Significant savings in time and money possible.

Please note that under the Unified Patent System, patent applications must be filed in English, German, or French. Additionally, under the Unified Patent System and during the transition period (at most 12 years), if a patent application is granted in German or French, an English translation must be submitted. Additionally, if a patent application is granted in English, a translation into one of the EU official languages ​​must be submitted.


About the Unified Patent Court

Under the Unified Patent System, patent rights granted by the EPO will be enforceable via the Unified Patent Court. In this case, there is no need for each country to enter the national phase. This eliminates the need for domestic fees and translation fees.

The Unified Patent Court has exclusive jurisdiction not only for unitary patents but also for EP patents under the EPC. During the transition period, it is possible for EP patents based on the EPC to request to be excluded from the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court (opt-out). In this case, the EP patent will be subject to the jurisdiction of the national courts of each country.

The above-mentioned package of new regulations stipulates the unified patent litigation system based on the treaty between countries creating the Unified Patent Court. According to it, the Unified Patent Court (Paris, London, Munich) Regarding infringement and validity issues relating toIt functions as a court of first instance and a court of appeal, and is positioned as a specialized court with exclusive jurisdiction.

The court of first instance has a central division, a local division, and a regional division. Every division has a panel of multinational judges. The central section is divided into three sections: the UK (in charge of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical-related projects), France (in charge of telecommunications, electrical equipment, and other projects), and Germany (in charge of machinery and weapons-related projects). The headquarters will be located in Paris.

The court of first instance can also be held in the courts of each member state. In this case, the case will be heard by a panel of three legally qualified judges. In the case of counterclaims regarding patent revocation, a technically qualified judge will be assigned at the request of the panel or the parties.

In general, infringement proceedings are carried out at the place where the infringement took place or at the place of residence of the defendant, but validity proceedings must be carried out in the Central Division of the Unified Patent Court (headquartered in Paris) unless a counterclaim is filed. there is. In addition, in cases where both infringement proceedings and validity proceedings are involved, it is also possible to carry out these proceedings in the Unified Patent Court. At the headquarters of the Unified Patent Court, cases are heard by a panel consisting of two judges with legal qualifications and one judge with technical qualifications. The Judiciary is a multinational panel of judges, including those with legal and technical qualifications.

Additionally, Luxembourg's specialized tribunal continues to be the Court of Appeal and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In this Court of Appeal, cases are heard by a panel consisting of three judges with legal qualifications and two judges with technical qualifications. The domestic courts of each country can still be used to enforce the national patents of each country during the above transition period. After this transition period has passed, the Unified Patent Court will also hear the domestic patents of each country.


Q & A

  • ◆ Which countries are covered by the unitary patent?
    As of April 2013, 4, all EU member countries (excluding Spain and Italy). Spain and Italy will become eligible countries if they withdraw their refusal to participate.


  • ◆What is the unified patent and unified patent court?
    It will be possible for the EPO to grant a single patent with effect throughout the EU. Additionally, a unified patent can be enforced or invalidated against all participating countries through a single lawsuit in the Unified Patent Court.


  • ◆Is it possible to convert an EP patent based on EPC to a unitary patent?
    It is possible to obtain a unitary patent even if the EP patent is based on the EPC, if the grant of the patent exceeds the effective date of the Unitary Patent Regulation.


  • ◆Can I choose the type of patent?
    Applicants are free to choose between a new unitary patent, an EP patent based on the EPC, or a national patent granted for each participating country.


  • ◆What will be the costs associated with the unitary patent?
    There are many uncertainties, and we will have to wait and see what happens in the future.
    However, for all unitary patents, the entire specification must be filed in English or translated into English for at least 6 years and up to 12 years. If submitted in English, it must be translated into one other EU official language. Claims must be translated into English, French and German, as they currently are.


  • ◆How to apply for a unified patent?
    As is currently the case, this will be done for the EPO. The examination procedure will remain the same as before.


  • ◆What kind of response is required after the allowance?
    At the time of registration, applicants can choose to designate a unitary patent or designate by country.
    The opposition procedure is the same as for existing EP applications.



EU Geographical Indication (GI)

1. Basic laws and regulations

- Regulation 2012/11 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 1151 on quality regimes for agricultural products and food products
・Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Agreement between Japan and the European Union regarding economic partnership (Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement)

2. Summary

Geographical Indication (GI) is an indication that indicates that the quality or characteristics of agricultural products, foods, etc. originate from the region or land of the place of origin.
Currently, in the EU, agricultural products and food are subject to protection under Council Regulation 1151/2012, but wine and spirits are also subject to GI protection.

3. Handling of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

Under the Withdrawal Agreement, GIs registered in the EU before the end of the transition period on 2020 December 12 will continue to be protected as GIs in the UK after the end of the transition period. GIs registered in the UK before the end of the transition period will also continue to be protected in the EU.
When applying for GI registration for British products in the EU at the end of the transition period, the UK will need to complete the procedures as an EU foreign country.

4. Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

The Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides for mutual protection of GI for agricultural products and alcoholic beverages between Japan and the EU. This will also protect Japanese GIs such as Kobe beef and Yubari melons in the EU market.

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