The JPO recently issued the JPO Status Report 2017 (in Japanese and English) to give the public a better idea of how the JPO is working to improve its services. Commissioner Yoshinori Komiya expressed the prospects of the JPO in his greeting contained here, focusing on improving speed and quality.
Commissioner Komiya remarks, the JPO is striving to lower the wait on patent examinations to an average of 14 months or less from the Request for Examination, by FY2023. In this way, Japan is aiming to offer “the ‘world’s fastest and utmost quality examination in IP system.'” It continues to open opportunities to applicants in many countries to Patent Prosecution Highway options, as well.
There were 318,381 patent applications filed with the JPO (including international patent applications) in 2016, down by 0.1% (from 318,721) since 2015 and following a general downward trend over the past ten years. On the other hand, patent applications continue to be registered at an increasing rate per filings. Therefore, while the numbers of applications may be discouraging, the quality of those that are filed is rising (assuming that the JPO is maintaining examination standards, which of course may shift through time and among examiners; it is unlikely that a case like the “Ikiniari! Steak” system would have been allowed by the USPTO).
 Yoshinori Komiya, “Message from the Commissioner,” in JPO Status Report 2017, 2, accessed May 23, 2017.
 Japan Patent Office, “JPO Status Report 2017,” accessed May 23, 2017.
* The picture of the cover of the Report is also from “JPO Status Report 2017.”
By Josiah Momose. Updated June 2, 2017.
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