The Intellectual Property High Court (hereinafter referred to as the "IP High Court"), was established on April 1, 2005 as a court specializing in intellectual property cases, which consists of the Special Division to deal with Grand Panel cases and other four divisions.
Intellectual property disputes often involve important legal issues, and in many cases, court decisions have a critical impact on corporate activities and the Japanese economy. In the area of IP law, there were requests to form reliable rules and ensure consistency of judicial decisions at a high court level. To meet such a need, the Grand Panel system, in which a five-judge panel hears cases and makes decisions, was introduced in April 2004. We will continue to work on the Grand Panel cases to form precedents that can be relied on.
2. Case Management
Efforts had already been made to improve our case management through intensive hearings since before the establishment of the IP High Court. As a result of further discussions on how to manage suits against JPO Board decisions on patents and utility models, which account for about 70% of all cases brought to the IP High Court, we developed the Guidelines for Parties of Suits against JPO Board Decisions on Patents and Utility Models, and released them on our website, with various sample forms. We also developed the Q&A on Suits against JPO Board Decisions, which explain the procedures and documents to be submitted in such suits, and released them on our website. We will make more efforts in this area, to achieve further effective and fair proceedings.
3. Judicial Research Officials and Technical advisors
Recent progress in the fields of science and technology has been remarkable and, along with this trend, the number of cases in which understanding of highly specialized and advanced technology is required has been increasing. To address this technological nature of IP cases, we have developed the "judicial research officials" system. Judicial research officials are full-time court officials whose role is to assist judges by conducting research on technical matters necessary for hearing and resolving IP cases. With a history of more than fifty years, the judicial research officials system has already been accepted as an integrated part of IP litigation. Furthermore, in order to make more reliable and convincing judgments in response to the rapid advances in technology, the IP High Court appoints technical advisors from a pool of experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience, including leading scholars, scientists, and patent attorneys in various technical fields. Technical advisors are asked to participate in court proceedings and provide judges and parties, from the viewpoint of a fair and neutral adviser, with explanations on the technical matters involved in the lawsuit. The IP High Court actively uses technical advisors with the aim of resolving disputes appropriately and speedily. So far, about 200 leading experts have been appointed as technical advisors in charge of IP cases. Every year, we hold a Technical Advisor Workshop in which many technical advisors, as well as judges, participate and exchange frank opinions regarding how technical advisors should participate in the court proceedings and what arrangements are required for this purpose. We will continue to actively use this system while making necessary improvements.
4. Information Transmission
Today, Internet use is spreading and the globalization of corporate activities advancing. Since science and technology are progressing and diffusing on a transnational level, it is necessary, in the area of IP law that deals with such subjects, not only to create reliable rules but also to make accurate case information promptly available within and beyond the jurisdiction. In this respect, courts are further required to fulfill the duty of accountability. To achieve these goals, judges of the IP High Court participate in various national and international conferences, and provide information to Japanese and foreign visitors on the outline of the IP High Court and the current situations surrounding IP litigation in Japan. In addition, upon the establishment of the IP High Court, we also opened a website and have been upgrading it. Currently, information on the outline of the court and statistical data are available in Japanese as well as English, German, French, Chinese and Korean, and major events that occurred recently at the Court, including the status of Grand Panel cases, holding of workshops, and visits from foreign countries, are also presented as Topics in Japanese and English. We also promptly release the whole text and summary of the judgments handed down by the Grand Panel and provide a database of concluded cases (including non-Grand Panel cases) on the Case Search page (only available in Japanese). Other helpful information on proceedings at the IP High Court, including relevant guidelines and sample forms as well as the papers written by judges, manuscripts of lectures given by judges abroad, and details of the Technical Advisor System, is also available on the website. We will upgrade the website as appropriate to make it more accessible.
Bearing in mind the original goal of justice - solving each dispute appropriately and speedily - we will make constant efforts to provide better judicial services while facing the challenges before us.