Japan to Protect Technology Patents in 25 Fields

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister’s Office Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

The government plans to block the public disclosure of technology patents in 25 fields as part of economic security measures, it has been learned.

The fields include technologies related to aircraft stealth equipment and hypersonic flight, which is five times faster than the speed of sound.

The patent protection measure has been included in a draft proposal based on the economic security promotion law, which was passed in May last year.

Patents are currently made public 18 months after they are filed, in principle. Under the economic security promotion law, the public disclosure of patents can be blocked if they involve technologies designated for protection.

According to the draft, inventions that are highly likely to harm the security of the nation and its people will be designated for protection. Fifteen fields, including stealth technology and weapons-related technology for drones and autonomous vehicles, will receive specific attention.

Ten other fields, including scramjet and solid-fuel rocket engine technologies that can be used for hypersonic flight, will be protected only if the technologies are for defense purposes or were commissioned by the government.

As part of efforts to mitigate cyberattacks, among other threats, the government has also established criteria for screening infrastructure operators in 14 fields ahead of the installation of critical facilities.

The measure is expected to cover operators of power generation facilities with a capacity of at least 500,000 kilowatts per unit; railways with at least 1,000 kilometers of tracks; banks with deposits of at least ¥10 trillion or more than 10,000 automated teller machines; and insurers that manage at least 20 million policies.

The government plans to present the draft proposal to an expert panel that will meet in mid-June at the earliest. It aims to launch the framework around next spring after collecting public comments, the sources said.