JPO Improves Teleworking Communication*
Michael Pistorio, US Patent Attorney
In accordance with Japanese Patent Office (JPO) protocol, telephone inquiries by the Applicant or his/her agent regarding their applications can only be answered by the Examiner that is assigned to the application. However, under the telework-centered attendance system enacted at the JPO as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Examiner assigned to the application may not go into the office frequently. This was problematic since the JPO lacked any method for Examiners to receive incoming phone calls and voice messages remotely. Therefore, Applicants with inquiries were being contacted whenever the Examiner came back to the JPO, which was causing delays in telephone responses to Applicants.
In order to improve this situation, starting on April 1, 2021, JPO staff that are engaged in examination and trial work for patents, designs and trademarks (including Examiners) are able to access JPO’s phone system when working remotely using cell phones issued by the JPO. This allows Examiners to receive messages and call back Applicants to respond to inquiries in a timely manner. This enables Japanese Patent Attorneys to engage in faster, more sophisticated communications with Examiners, and expedites the examination process.
*Portions of this article were translated from the JPO’s official announcement concerning this topic.