“The filing budgets of many international companies have been reduced since the financial crisis in 2008, and a proportionately greater share of these financial resources is now being allocated to protecting innovations against infringements taking place in China.
The question of where to submit a patent depends on the size of the market, the presence of competitors and the existence of manufacturing bases.
With most manufacturing now being done in China, European companies are more motivated to first submit there, says Ayato Susaki, chief consultant and group leader of the Innovation and Industrial Strategy Group for the Science and Safety Policy Research Division at Mitsubishi Research Institute in Tokyo.
“It also makes sense to submit patents in jurisdictions with many pirated goods, in order to protect against [pirating],” he says.
Felix R. Einsel of Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office in Tokyo is a patent attorney with a licence to jointly litigate cases with other attorneys at law in Japan. He points to inadequacies with the court system in Japan as one of the main reasons those European companies that file frequently in Europe choose not to do so in Japan.
IP protection is supposed to be enforced when an infringement occurs, as lawsuits can be filed with the possibility of damages being awarded by the courts. But in Japan, damages are relatively low, sometimes making court cases little more than a costly exercise.
In Germany, on the other hand, the party that loses the case is required to pay the legal fees of the winning party. Doing so ensures that the patent owner can recover any damages in a true sense.
In Japan, patent infringement cases normally cost between ¥20 million (€162,000) and ¥40 million (€325,000), and each party pays their own legal fees.
Japanese companies also often prefer to reach a settlement before going to court. Einsel highlights the cultural aspects of such a move, especially since companies that sue each other may have a working relationship in other fields that are just as important to them.” (Source: EUROBIZ News)
So, unless the IP court system is improved and more effective (in a “kaizen” approach), is it really worth going to court for a patent row in Japan, the land of the “consensus”? What is your experience or opinion?
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