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Japanese Patents and Inventions

Nature volume 135, page 218 (09 February 1935) | Download Citation



ON December 23, 1934, the Japan Times and Mail published a special “Invention Number“in connexion with the commemoration of the jubilee of the Japanese patent law. The number contains much interesting matter regarding the birth and growth of the Patent Bureau, the increase in the number of patents applied for and sanctioned, and the place of Japan as a great industrial nation. The early history of the Patent Bureau, which in 1933 had a staff of 600, was dealt with in a broadcast address by the Minister of Finance, Mr. K. Takahashi, who was the first chief of the Bureau. The first law enacted by the Government for the protection of inventions, he said, was the so-called expedient monopoly regulations promulgated on April 7, 1871. This, however, was never enforced and in the following year was abolished. A special committee was next appointed to examine the British and American patent laws, and from its work sprang the first Trade-Mark Act in Japan, promulgated on October 1, 1884, followed by the Patent Act of April 18, 1885. This Act came into force on July 1, and No. 1 patent was issued that day to a Tokyo citizen, Zuisho Hotta, for a coating material for ships and iron bridges. For the first twenty years, patents and inventions failed to attract much public attention, and whatever progress was made in industry was due more to successful imitation of Western practices than to original discovery or invention. From the time of the Russo-Japanese War, however, largely through the action of the body now known as the Imperial Invention Association,, invention has been encouraged by the Government, and to-day Japan now claims to rank only behind the United States and Germany in the number of patents granted. In several of the contributions to the “Invention Number”, recognition is given to the debt Japan owes to foreign countries, but there is also a just sense of pride in the status to which she has attained through her own initiative.

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