JPO Status Report 2018: Patent Pendency and Examination Speed

The JPO published its JPO Status Report 2018 recently, including reports on the JPO’s activities in promoting IP domestically and globally. Its “Facts and Events 2017” section highlights some of the standards in examination. (The report is written in English as well as Japanese, so feel free to read through it and consult with us if you wish.)

The patent First Action pendency (time it takes for a patent application to reach its first Office Action including allowance) had an average of 9.4 months in Japan’s fiscal 2016 (April 2016-March 2017). The total pendency (time it takes for a patent application to be allowed, abandoned) in the same period was 14.6 months. Note that these times are counted from when an applicant files request for examination, which is up to three years from the filing date of an international PCT application brought that is then brought into national phase entry in Japan.

By way of comparison, the average pendencies for applications in the USPTO, in the United States’ fiscal 2017 (i.e. October 2016-September 2017), were: 16.3 months for First Action penedency, 24.2 months for total pendency. Of course, it should be kept in mind that a Request for Examination need not be filed immediately for a Japanese patent application, while it is often requested upon filing for a US patent application–hence, the non-substantive administrative tasks that may keep an examination from beginning in the USPTO might have already been done before the Request for Examination even is filed in Japan. However, in any case the speed of the Japanese examination process is admirable as the JPO strives to give superb patent services.

Writer: Josiah Momose.
(The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions or inquiries, please contact us for more information.)


Japan Patent Office. JPO Status Report 2018. Accessed April 2, 2018.

United States Patent and Trademark Office. Performance and Accountability Report FY17: The Future of Innovation, 47. Accessed April 2, 2018.

World Intellectual Property Organization. PCT Applicant’s Guide. “Japan Patent Office as Designated (or Elected) Office,” 5. Accessed April 2, 2018.

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