Japanese Patent Office Relaxes Signature Requirements
February 18, 2021
Michael J. Pistorio, US Attorney
As part of COVID-19 relief measures, a measure was enacted on December 28, 2020, to ease some handwritten signature requirements.
We note at this time that the procedures are relatively new at the JPO, and some Examiners and Formalities Examiners may not be familiar with them. Thus, an Applicant using the new procedures may experience some difficulties in using the procedure, especially during the first few months. Additionally, these measures can change or end at any time. As such, ONDA TECHNO’s experts can interact with the JPO on your behalf, to offer advice and ensure smooth processing under the new procedures.
At this time, to promote modernization, the Japanese government is also seeking to reduce the necessity of stamps and handwritten signatures in government filings, such as those required by the JPO. It is not known, at this time, if these requirements will remain relaxed after COVID-19 measures end, but keeping these measures in place would be in line with the government’s goal of modernization in this area.
Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney forms / documents that have not yet been granted do not need to contain handwritten signatures. Instead, an electronic signature in the form of “/name/” (for example) and a typed date will be accepted in the signature box of Power of Attorney forms / documents. The person who actually types the electronic signature and dates the form should be the person whose name and signature it is. However, even Power of Attorney forms / documents with no electronic signature (blank signature lines) are being accepted at this time. This form can then be sent to your Japanese agent for filing. Power of Attorney forms for procedures concerning granted patents, trademarks, and copyrights, such as changing the address of the patentee, are not exempted from the handwritten signature requirement.
Of course, the JPO accepts Power of Attorney forms / documents that are executed in the traditional way, as well. That is, handwritten signatures and dates are also acceptable, as they always have been. In this case, the original hand-signed document must be sent to your Japanese agent for filing.
Change of Ownership
Please note that Change of Ownership documents are not exempted from the handwritten signature requirement. That is, original, hand-signed contracts or other documents proving a Change of Ownership still must be filed at the JPO. However, a Power of Attorney accompanying Change of Ownership documents may be filed with e-signatures as described above.
Inventor Declarations for Adding or Removing an Inventor
Finally, Inventor Declarations for adding or removing an inventor do not need to contain handwritten signatures. However, the procedure is slightly different than that for the Power of Attorney forms / documents. For the Declaration, each inventor must enter the date that the declaration is effective. A typed e-signature is not necessary. The form then can be sent to your Japanese agent for filing.
Of course, as above, the JPO also accepts Inventor Declarations for adding or removing an inventor that are executed in the traditional way. That is, handwritten signatures and dates are also acceptable, as they always have been. In this case, the signature and date are required. The original signed document must be sent to your Japanese agent for filing.
If you have any questions about these new measures, please feel free to contact our English-language telephone line at +81 58-265-9124.