The IP High Court moved to a new building in Naka-Meguro, Tokyo from October of 2022. The new building is called the “Business Court” and the IP divisions of the Tokyo District Court, the Bankruptcy division of the Tokyo District Court and the Corporate division of the Tokyo District Court also moved to this building. This new Court is about a 30 minutes’ drive away from the original building.
Last year, the IP High Court and the IP divisions of the Tokyo District Court has introduced an electronic filing system of Briefs and evidence call the “mints”. Before the introduction of this system, the parties had to produce 5 copies of each Brief and evidence so it was extremely burdensome for the parties if they had to produce thousands of pages of evidence, but now it is easier and more eco-friendly. The Courts are also using Microsoft Teams for online hearings and to send and receive notices with the parties.
More on the substance of the court proceedings, the Tokyo District Court IP division has announced that it will have a scheduled hearing process for patent infringement cases. In a model scheduled process, there will be 5 hearings before the Judges will come to a tentative view on infringement, the 5th hearing being the so called “technical presentation session”. In this “technical presentation session”, the parties will have a chance to present their case using slides and there will be technical experts present at this session to advise the Judges. The parties are basically allowed to file 2 substantive Briefs on infringement and validity before this 5th hearing.
From what we have experienced, some divisions will set all due dates for Briefs of each parties. There are divisions that will set a date for the technical presentation session and will not hold any hearings after the first hearing before this session. For this division, there will only be exchange of Briefs on paper before the parties meet at the technical presentation session.
While the new scheduled hearings will make it more easier for the Courts to come to a conclusion faster, it will be more difficult for the parties to introduce new arguments as the process develops and it will be difficult to “read” the Judges thinking if we do not have face to face meetings with the Judges. We shall see how it develops.
Written by: Mr. Eiichiro Kubota (Attorney-at-Law, Patent Attorney)