2. UTILITY MODELS | Minato Mirai Patent Firm

    About the Japanese Utility Model System

    Period of protection

    Utility model rights are protected for 10 years from the filing date.

    Scope of protection

    Shapes, structures, and combinations of objects are subject to protection. Methods and uses are not covered.


    An examination is carried out, but it is more of a formality and does not assess novelty or inventive step.
    As such, utility model rights can be acquired quickly without much cost, making them effective for protecting products with short life cycles.

    Period of examination

    It takes two to three months from application to registration.

    Request for written technical opinions

    Anyone, whether they are right holders or not, can request the Patent Office to prepare written technical opinions on the novelty and inventive step of registered utility models.

    Exercise of rights

    An application affords rights for a utility model without its novelty and inventive step being examined. As such, if the need arises to exercise your rights, you may be asked by the other party to obtain a written technical opinion (effectively the result of a fully-fledged examination) on patentability from the Patent Office and present it to them.
    If the written technical opinion shows an unfavorable evaluation (due to a lack of novelty or inventive step), your attempt to exercise your rights will result in your rights becoming invalidated instead, and you as the right holder must compensate any damage caused to the other party through this attempt.

    In this way, there is a high level of risk in exercising utility model rights, and so this system is rarely used for inventions where the creators expect to exercise their rights in the future.


    UTILITY MODELS in Japan Official fee
    Attorney’s fee
    Filing a utility model application
    (The annuity for the 1st to 3rd year must be paid upon filing.  The annuity is calculated according to the number of claims.)
    185.00 + (NC x 3.00) 1,364.00
    Obtaining a written technical opinion 
    (PCT National Phase)
    306.00 + (NC x 8.00) 164.00
    Obtaining a written technical opinion
    (convention application)
    382.00 + (NC x 10.00) 164.00
    Paying the annuity for the 4th to 6th year (each year) 55.00 + (NC×3.00) 110.00
    Paying the annuity for the 7th to 10th year (each year) 165.00 + (NC×8.00) 110.00

    *NC = Number of Claims

    Calculating rate: 1 USD = 110 JPY