In 2016, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) issued a patent for a “system” of serving steak meals to fast food chain Ikinari! Steak. The method was fairly simple, and caused a stir because it seemed hardly worthy of a patent.
The JPO seems to agree, now. An opposition case ended on November 28, 2017, declaring the patent null.
The application originally was issued an office action by the JPO because it described a mere series of actions for bringing a steak to the customer. The applicant, Pepper Food Service (Tokyo), then amended the first claim to include a few items such as labels, a weighing scale, and table markers in a “system.”
These added details satisfied the examiner then, though we commented last year that “It is unclear whether or not this patent would hold up in a legal dispute.” Now an individual has brought an opposition case against it, and the JPO decided against the patent, judging that it does not qualify as a patent under the Japan Patent Act, which requires that an “invention” be a “highly advanced creation of technical ideas utilizing the laws of nature” (Ch. 1, Art. 2 translation).
Writer: Josiah T. Momose.
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Kiyoshi Kurihara, Yahoo! Japan news article from December 19, 2017.