1.History of the Divisions of the IP High Court
Following the amendment to the Patent Law in 1948 by which the Tokyo High Court was given exclusive jurisdiction over suits against appeal/trial decisions made by JPO, the “Intellectual Property Division” was first established in the Tokyo High Court in November 1950 as the 5th Special Division in addition to other divisions within the civil department specializing in the suits against appeal/trial decisions made by JPO and appeals from district courts on intellectual property actions.
Subsequently, instead of assigning all IP cases exclusively to the 5th Special Division, four of the civil divisions of the Tokyo High Court were designated as divisions specialized in IP cases; the 6th Civil Division in March 1958; the 13th Civil Division in December 1959; the 18th Civil Division in January 1985; and the 3rd Civil Division in April 2002.
The names of these specialized divisions were changed on April 1, 2004, into the “Intellectual Property Divisions” (1st to 4th). Furthermore, in accordance with the Law for Partial Amendment of the Code of Civil Procedure, Etc., came into force on the same day, the Grand Panel system was introduced in which proceedings for actions relating to patent rights, etc. are heard by a panel of five judges, and the 6th Special Division was created for the Grand Panel of IP cases.
On April 1, 2005, the 1st to 4th Intellectual Property Divisions and the 6th Special Division (the Grand Panel of IP cases) were transformed into the 1st to 4th Divisions and the Special Division (the Grand Panel) of the IP High Court respectively.
2.IP Divisions in Other Courts
There are four divisions in the Tokyo District Court and two divisions in the Osaka District Court as divisions specialized in IP cases. The Osaka High Court also has one division to which all the IP cases under its jurisdiction are assigned.
3.Circumstances Surrounding IP cases
With the economic recession continuing since the collapse of the so-called bubble economy, awareness has been widely shared that Japan should take nationwide measures to create, protect, and exploit intellectual property so as to revitalize the economy. Since the late 1990s, intellectual property started drawing more attention, and the Court received various advice from the perspective of strengthening protection of intellectual property rights.
Under such circumstances, in June 2001, the Justice System Reform Council published various recommendations, the Council expressed its view that “Strengthening of Comprehensive Response to Cases Related to Intellectual Property Rights” is one of the most important subjects in the area of civil justice reform, and recommended measures to reinforce the system for resolving IP cases with more expertise.
Furthermore, the Strategic Council on Intellectual Property was established in March 2002, and in July, the Strategic Council adopted the “Intellectual Property Policy Outline," which recommended the creation of an entity that is equivalent to “patent court” under the concept of “an intellectual property-based nation.” Subsequently, the Basic Law on Intellectual Property, which articulates the basic policy concerning intellectual property, was came into force in March 2003, and the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters was established in the Cabinet. The Headquarters adopted the Strategic Program for the Creation, Protection and Exploitation of Intellectual Property in July 2003, in which it recommended the establishment of the IP High Court to reinforce the dispute resolution function and to proclaim the national policy that intellectual property was one of the top priorities.
4.Establishment of the IP High Court
Taking these recommendations and suggestions into account, the Working Group on Intellectual Property Lawsuits held by the Office for Promotion of Justice System Reform and the Task Force on Strengthening of the Foundation for Right Protection established under the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters discussed the issue of creating the IP High Court. Based on the discussion, the Secretariat of the Office for promotion of Justice System Reform worked on a bill, and in June 2004, the Law for Establishing the IP High Court was enacted.
The purpose of the Law for Establishing the IP High Court is to ensure more effective and speedy trial proceedings in IP cases, based on the understanding that the role of the judiciary has become more important in the proper protection of intellectual property along with the active use of intellectual property in the Japanese economy and society, thereby enhancing the judicial services specializing in handling IP cases.
In accordance with this law, the IP High Court was established on April 1, 2005, as a special branch within the Tokyo High Court.
The IP High Court hears appeals from district courts in Japan on patent actions and suits against appeal/trial decisions made by the JPO. It also hears any other cases before the Tokyo High Court, as far as the nature and contents of the case are related to intellectual property. In order to fully apply its expertise, the IP High Court enjoys independent authority with respect to case docketing and other certain judicial administrative services.
|Year||Social/Political/Economic events||Judicial system-related events|
|1950||Intellectual Property Division established in the Tokyo High Court|
|1961||Intellectual Property Division established in the Tokyo District Court|
|1964||Intellectual Property Division established in the Osaka District Court|
|1990||Intellectual Property Division established in the Osaka High Court|
|Collapse of the bubble economy|
|Intellectual property started to draw attention|
|Aug.1996||The Law for Partial Amendment of the Code of Civil Procedure, Etc., enacted (Granting specific courts concurrent jurisdiction over actions on patent right and other intellectual property rights)|
|May.1998||Recommendations by the Intellectual Property Policy Subcommittee of the Commerce and Industry Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party|
|Jul.1999||Justice System Reform Council established|
|Jun.2001||Recommendations by the Justice System Reform Council published|
|Dec.2001||Office for Promotion of Justice System Reform established (dissolved in Nov. 2004)|
|Feb.2002||General policy speech by Prime Minister Koizumi|
|Mar.2002||Strategic Council on Intellectual Property started|
|Jul.2002||Intellectual Property Policy Outline adopted|
|Oct.2002||Working Group on Intellectual Property Lawsuits held|
|Mar.2003||Basic Law on Intellectual Property put into force|
|Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters started|
|Jul.2003||The Strategic Program for the Creation, Protection and Exploitation of Intellectual Property adopted||The Law for Partial Amendment of the Code of Civil Procedure, Etc., enacted(Granting specific courts to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over actions on patent right and other intellectual property rights, introduction of technical advisors)|
|Jun.2004||The Law for Establishing the IP High Court and The Law for Amending a part of the Court Organization Law, Etc., enacted|
|Apr.2005||The IP High Court established|