Japan is one of the world’s top patent filers, ranked behind only China and the United States – and the efficiency and high allowance rate of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) are well known: it regularly provides final decisions within 15 months. However, resident filings have been decreasing since 2005 and confidence in the economy remains precarious; four years of government stimulus have only slightly improved the situation. With regard to case law, the strict product-by-process requirements set forth by the Supreme Court in 2015 were reified in a 2016 JPO document setting out revised procedures; the doctrine of equivalents is another issue that is currently in a state of flux.
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