An International Guide to
Patent Case Management for Judges

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7.2.2 Examiners and the examination of patent applications

The JPO’s examination departments are organized into four technical fields: physics, optics and social infrastructure; mechanical technology; chemistry, life science and material science; and electronic technology.25 JPO examiners are experts in technology and patent law, and are responsible for the examination of patent applications to ensure compliance with the requirements set out in the Patent Act.

Examinations are conducted in accordance with the Examination Guidelines for Patent and Utility Model in Japan (“Examination Guidelines”).26 The Examination Guidelines are prepared by the JPO to help ensure consistent decisions and transparent processes and to address a range of matters, including the principles and procedures of examination, the requirements for patentability, descriptions and claims, priority, applications written in foreign languages, and the extension of the patent term. An English version of the Examination Guidelines is available on the JPO’s website.

An examiner must refuse a patent application if it does not comply with the requirements set out in the Patent Act. However, before reaching that decision, an examiner must notify the applicant of the grounds for refusing the application and give them an opportunity to submit a written opinion within a specified period of time.27