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Business Model Patent in Japan

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Since the late 1990s, business model patents including Amazon’s one-click patent attracted attention. Similarly in Japan, many patent applications related to business models were made in the early 2000s. However, the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) did not have clear definition and Examination Guidlines for business model patent at that time, so confusion occurred in the patent examination. After that, various discussions were made, JPO defined business model patents in Japan as devices and methods that realize business using Information Technology (IT). In addition, JPO made Examination Guidlines for business model patent. Since this Examination Guidlines was made after patent application, most of the patent applications filed in …

business model patent in Japan

Rice Cake Patent Dispute

Zen International Patents and Trademark Speaking of Japanese traditional foods, a rice cake (Japanese “mochi”) is cited.  Although a rice cake does not seem to relate to patents, it was involved in serious patent disputes in the past. That’s a case of conflict between Echigo Seika, Co.,Ltd. and Sato Foods, Co.,Ltd. over cut rice cakes with slits, which are packaged one by one in order to keep a fresh state. Echigo Seika acquired a patent related to the slits provided in side surfaces of a cut rice cake.  By providing slits, when baked, a rice cake shape remains good. (Please refer to the figure related to Echigo Seika patent. )   …

Dahlia Cultivation Using Bamboo Powder

Zen International Patents and Trademark One of the flowers that are sold at the highest prices in Japan is Dahlia. Dahlia is native to Mexico and it is believed that the Dutch introduced it to Japan. There is an area that is engaged in industrial promotion using Dahlia.  It’s Hanawa town of Fukushima prefecture. In Hanawa town’s “Dahlia Garden” of 7 thousand square meters, 5 thousand Dahlias are cultivated. In this Garden, “bamboo powder agriculture method” is adopted for making soil for Dahlia cultivation. This is a unique farming method that spreads bamboo powder on the soil. Bamboo powder is made by machines.  Bamboo powder is consist of organic substances …

Food for Elderly People in Japan

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Elderly people may not be able to eat hard foods because chewing and swallowing power become weaker. Not only the taste but also the shape of food is related to the feeling of delicious in our brain. The soft foods of which shape is the same as original one, have been developed so that the elderly people eat deliciously. For example, the “Kishu Tanabe shime promotion council” composed of Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture and Kinan Agricultural Cooperative developed new food for nursing care food (See picture below). The shape of this food looks like “Umeboshi”, but it is made by mixing plum meat and polysaccharide thickening (this substance has the …


Matching Events Related to Technology Transfer

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Recently, several matching events are held in Japan to support to transfer technologies between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Through these events, the cases of licensing patents owned by large companies to SMEs have been increasing. For example, in a matching event conducted by Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, large companies such as Fujitsu Limited, Toshiba Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., NEC Corporation, Ajinomoto Co., Ltd. participated. According to press release, as a result, 25 matches were completed, and finally 18 products were newly developed. Japanese large companies seem to have strategies for taking advantage of their patents as much as possible. We would like to keep paying attention to this trend.  


Soy Sauce New Type Bottle and Patent

Zen International Patents and Trademark Soy sauce is easily oxidized. When exposed to air, it becomes blackish and its taste also deteriorates. How to keep soy sauce fresh has been a long-standing challenge for soy sauce manufacturers.  These days, new type of soy sauce bottle has been developed and sold in the market. The Fig. below is related to patent of a bottle. It is a double bag structure, with a check valve attached at its spout so that air only enters the space between the bags. When you grasped by hand, double bags deflate and soy sauce within the inner bag will be pushed out.  However, when you release the …

Power of Use Invention of Foods

Zen International Patents and Trademarks In recent years, two systems related to foods were enforced in Japan. The first is the system of “Foods with Function Claims” (FFC), the second is the system of “Use Invention of Foods” (UIF). The FFC is a system that allows companies to display food functionality in packages, etc. through submitting information on the scientific basis of the foods safety and effectiveness to the Consumer Affairs Agency. On the other hand, the UIF is a system in which a patent is given to foods with limited use. The FFC is an attractive system that can promote sales to consumers. However, data such as safety data submitted …


Awareness of Patents in SMEs

Zen International Patents and Trademarks According to the investigation of the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), it is revealed that the patent application of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Japan for 2015 has increased for 5 consecutive years. The number of patent applications filed by SMEs in 2015 was 36,017 (2.9% increase over the previous year), and the ratio of domestic patent applications filed by SMEs was 13.9% (13.2% in the previous year). In addition, the number of PCT international applications filed by SMEs in 2015 is 3,693 (5.6% increase over the previous year), and it is gradually increasing. The ratio of PCT international applications filed by Japanese SMEs was 8.6% (8.6% in the previous year), and the ratio of applicants for …

number of patent applications

Trouble In Nintendo Creators Program

Zen International Patents and Trademarks In Japan, the troubles is occurring that when a person participates in Nintendo Creators Program* and uploads a game playing video to YouTube, a company who argues to be copyright holder claims that the video infringes its own copyright. The company has nothing to do with Nintendo, but if the person uploading the video does not claim that fact to YouTube, the company can get a part of the advertisement revenue. At the moment there is no fundamental solution to this problem. Therefore, People who want to participate in this program should be aware of this problem. *Nintendo Creators Program is a service through which Nintendo gives you part of the advertising proceeds it receives from YouTube for your …


The World’s Innovation Hotspots

Zen International Patents and Trademarks According to FINANCIAL TIMES, since the largest number of patent applications (94,079) are filed in the world, the world’s innovation hotspot is Tokyo – Yokohama area (cluster). This results come from the study which analysed the addresses of inventors named in all 950,000 international patent applications published between 2011 and 2015 under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It seems that this result was due to the fact that there are many laboratories of Japanese and foreign companies in this area. By the way, the second place is the Shenzhen – Hong Kong cluster, which is said to be “Silicon Valley in China”, and the number of patent applications filed …

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