Features

Japan debates the way ahead for patents

By Jacob Schindler

Japanese companies are increasingly changing their approach to patents. But will the patent system change with them?

In recent years, IAM has tracked a gradual change in the way that Japanese companies approach the business of patents. Although the country’s tech giants own some of the world’s largest IP portfolios, many still view patents merely as legal protection, used mostly for defensive purposes, rather than as commercial assets. However, this corporate culture – which has traditionally valued consensus and eschewed litigation – is now undergoing a sea change. Financial pressures have led a handful of big names in the tech world to explore monetising their patents, including by partnering with non-practising entities (NPEs) – a tactic which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

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Issue 89