Under the Law for Strengthening of Industrial and Technological Competitiveness, the JPO has implemented measures to reduce fees for small businesses, venture companies, and other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) if they satisfy certain requirements. The discounts apply to both Japanese and foreign applicants and are provided for requests for examination filed between April 2014 and March 2018, and patent annuities for applications whose request for examination are filed during the same time frame. The details are as follows:
1. Who Is Eligible for Small Entity Rates in Japan?
The discounts (in some instances, exemptions) apply to annuity fees and requests for examination fees for researchers of R&D-type SMEs and venture companies, national or private universities, technical colleges, and institutions for joint use among universities, as well as founders of public or private universities and technical colleges.
2. What are the Discount Rates?
• Small Businesses – two-third (2/3) reduction of request for examination fees, annuities (for the first to the tenth year), search fees, postal fees, and preliminary examination fees.
Sample Examination Fees for Small Businesses – If an application has 25 claims, the regular examination fee would be approximately US$2,130 (196,000 yen). The Applicant who successfully applies for small entity status will receive a 2/3 reduction of this fee, paying only US$710.
(Since the complexity of the application will depend upon the Applicant and the individual cases, our service fees would be charged based on an hourly rate. A small entity applicant with multiple Japanese filings would benefit more from the reduced examination fees than if filing only one application with small entity status.)
• Individual Inventors – a waiver or a 50% reduction of the request for examination fees and the annual patent fees (from the first to the third year) for Patents. From the fourth to the tenth year, it is a 50% discount of the annual patent fees. For Utility Models, a waiver or a 50% reduction of utility model request for a technical assessment fee, and an exemption (for the first to the third year) or a three-year grace period for the registration fee.
• R&D-type SMEs and venture companies, national and private universities, and technology licensing organizations (TLOs) – a 50% reduction of request for examination fees and annual patent fees (from the first to the tenth year).
3. What are the Precise Qualifications for Small Entity Status?
“Small Entity” status applicants must satisfy the following criteria to qualify for the discounts:
• Employer Size
(a) Small Businesses with sole proprietors under 20 employees (under 5 for a trade or service industry company)
(b) Small entities that have been in business for fewer than 10 years
(c) Small corporations with under 20 employees (under 5 for a trade or service industry company)
(d) Corporations with less than 300 million yen in capital after 10 years of operation
• Amount of Capital by Type of Entity
(a) Manufacturer, Construction Company, Transportation Company, or others – less than 300 million yen in capital
(b) Retailers – 50 million yen or less in capital
(c) Wholesaler, Service Industry (excluding software and information processing companies) – 100 million yen or less in capital
4. How to Apply
Have your patent attorney submit a request for an SME discount along with documentation proving your qualifications when submitting your request for examination or an annuity payment to the JPO.
* The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.