Cabinet Decision on Draft Amendments to IP Laws in Japan (Mar. 10, 2023)

We would like to let you know that as announced by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on March 10, 2023, the Cabinet approved draft amendments to IP laws (primarily, the Unfair Competition Prevention Act (hereinafter, “UCPA”)).

For more details, please refer to the following link.

After this cabinet decision, the Diet will deliberate the bill for the amended IP laws in the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. After both Houses pass the bill, the amended IP laws will be enacted.

We will inform the effective date of the amended IP laws as soon as it becomes available.

The main contents of the amended IP laws are as follows:

  • Extension of trademarks that can be protected
    • Introduction of a consent system, which allows the registration of a trademark that is similar to a previously registered trademark owned by another person by the submission of a letter of consent.
    • A trademark containing a name can be registered under a certain condition without the consent of others.
    • The use of a registered trademark without an unfair purpose shall not be treated as unfair competition act under the UCPA.
  • Relaxation of requirements for documents to qualify for the exception to loss of novelty in design applications
  • Measure to prevent imitation of product forms in the digital space such as Metaverse under the UCPA
  • Enhanced protection of trade secrets and shared data with limited access under the UCPA
    • The definition of shared data with limited access is slightly amended under UCPA.
    • Damages over infringed party’s production capacity can also be claimed.
  • An electronic file or a copy of priority document can be submitted instead of the original priority document.
  • Lump-sum payment of official fees available in Madrid e-Filing
  • Limitation on the number of cases eligible for reduction/exemption of examination fees, etc.
  • Strengthen and expand penalties for bribery of foreign public officials.
  • Jurisdiction (civil cases) over unfair competition acts relating to trade secrets held by Japanese companies when such acts are committed outside of Japan*

*Although the current UCPA stipulates that the crime of trade secret infringement can be applied to crimes committed outside Japan (Art. 21(7) of the UCPA), it does not stipulate that Japanese courts have jurisdiction in cases where trade secrets held by Japanese companies are infringed outside Japan.