The Japan News reported on the 15th of November that Japan’s government plans to submit a new economic security bill to the Diet, Japan’s parliament, in 2022. The proposal will be put forward in a context of the US and China battling for technological and economic supremacy. The future bill would be aimed at promoting domestic development systems for economic security and contains important information on patents.

The bill would consist of the following 4 pillars:

- Making supply chains more resilient

- Maintaining the functionality of key infrastructure

- Protecting patents

- Bolstering the country’s technology base.

With regard to patents, the bill proposes to introduce so-called secret patents.

Under the current system, patent applications are made public after 18 months.  However, the government would now consider to not reveal the contents of some applications to prevent outflow of technologies that can be used in the development of future weapon systems.

In an interview in Nikkei Asia earlier in October 2021, a high-ranking politician from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), secretary-general Akira Amari already pushed for such types of secret patents.

He stated that in other countries, the public release of applications involving technologies with potential military uses for example can be blocked to keep them hidden from foreign countries or terrorist groups. Mr. Amari also suggested that in certain cases, authorities should provide compensation for companies whose patents are kept secret, so as to offset foregone licensing revenue.

Now, the article in The Japan News stated that the government’s proposal would also include such a mechanism to pay compensation to patent applicants in question.

The other provisions in the proposal focus on matters such as providing subsidies for the construction of domestic factories for products such as semiconductors, prescreening of critical equipment in the telecom, energy and financial sectors, and boosting R&D for advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence.

 For more information, please click here for article 1 and article 2.