Japan readies to sign new IP law it sees as win-win

Japan is due to sign off on an international intellectual property patent treaty that would require it to make some reforms in its own laws to make it easier for foreigners to apply. But its own exporting companies also stand to benefit.

The changes would mean that drugmakers and other industries with patented products would no longer have to rely on a Japanese company to make the application and walk it through to approval.

Similarly, the other 36 members of the Patent Law Treaty have to abide by the same rules in considering applications by Japan companies. Japan is also a member of the 12-nation group negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact

Japan's Diet, expected to ratify the patent treaty soon, also was expected to give swift approval to a similar treaty covering trademarks, Nikkei said.

Under the patent treaty's provisions, patent applicants would have to make an application in only one language, regardless of the language of the patenting country. That is considered a particular savings for small companies such as startups without the wherewithal to file applications in several different languages.

The signatories to the 10-year-old Patent Law Treaty include France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and soon Japan. Most of Japan's neighbors have not signed, however.

China and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could be tempted to follow Japan's lead, Nikkei said.

Having ASEAN nations on board, especially as the group heads into economic union at the end of the year, also would mean having several of the coveted emerging markets as treaty members.

- here's the story from Nikkei