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EXCLUSIVE: Japan govt mulling new section for secret patents

  • January 15, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 7:34 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Jan. 15 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government is discussing setting up a security department to determine technologies that will be closed to the public under an envisioned patent secrecy system, Jiji Press learned Saturday.


The government hopes to create the new department to protect secret information related to national security from patent disclosures, sources said.


The Japan Patent Office will conduct the first-stage screening of patent applications to select technologies that may need to be kept secret. The new department will judge the sensitivity of the technologies in the second-stage screening.


The government plans to establish the new department through legislation to be submitted during this year’s ordinary session of parliament to be convened Monday and through related ordinances.


With the United States and China competing for supremacy in the fields of economy and of science and technology, Japan faces a need to create a framework to prevent cutting-edge technologies, such as quantum cryptography for enhanced data communications security, from leaking abroad.


Currently, a patent is disclosed to the public 18 months after the application is filed. Under the secret-patent system, being prepared to enhance economic security, the government will be able to limit the disclosure of patents if the technologies are deemed important and sensitive.


The new department, which will mainly include members from the Cabinet Office and the Defense Ministry, is also expected to manage information related to the patents made inaccessible to the public.


The government is considering limiting the period of the screening process to 10 months from the filing of an application.


The main targets of the concealment of patents will be limited for the time being to technologies that may be converted for military use, including those related to quantum cryptography and nuclear power, so as not to dent research and development motivation.


The country will also restrict those applying patents overseas for technologies that have been closed to the public under the envisioned system.


If a patent is concealed, the government will compensate for royalty and licensing revenues that the patent holder would have earned.


Touting the strengthening of economic security as a key policy, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration is aiming to enact the economic security legislation as soon as possible.


The legislation will include steps to establish the secret-patent system, expand supply chains for essential supplies, such as semiconductors, and maintain core infrastructure functions.


The United States, Europe and China all have a system to ensure that technologies crucial to national security are not disclosed. They have also established penalties for information leaks.


According to the government, Japan is the only Group of Seven country without a patent secrecy system.

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