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Archived updates for Monday, April 18, 2005

Happy Japanese Invention Day!

Commemorating the promulgation of the Patent Monopoly Act on April 18, 1885, the predecessor of the current Patent Law, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) has set April 18 as the “Invention Day� and has been making efforts to disseminate the industrial property systems.

The Patent Monopoly Act was promulgated on April 18, 1885, with efforts of Korekiyo Takahashi, a Japanese statesman. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan had started to move ahead with modernization lagging far behind the West and was in a pressing need for industrial modernization. The Japanese government at that time took measures to encourage new industries. To achieve this end, establishment of a patent system was essential to protect inventors’ rights.

About 20 years prior to the promulgation of the Patent Monopoly Act, Yukichi Fukuzawa referred to a patent system in his book titled "Seiyo Jijo," or the Ways of the West. In this book, he described that protection of inventors’ rights would help encourage further creative activities and thus lead to the nation’s development. The government delegation lead by Tomomi Iwakura, a Japanese statesman who played a key role in bringing about the Meiji restoration of 1868, visited the US patent office and witnessed the circumstances surrounding patents in the West. The delegation returned their home country with a large volume of materials on patent systems, which greatly influenced the drafting of the Patent Monopoly Act.

Shortly after the promulgation of this Act, Japan entered the era of industrial revolution centering on yarn-making and spinning industry. With the revolution, Japan became a world power. Around that time, Sakichi Toyoda, father of the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation obtained his first patent for a wooden hand loom.
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