Japanese & Chinese Industrial Property Rights Vol.1
Number of patent applications filed in Japan in 2004
Japan is ranked No.1 country in the number of patent applications filed annually. In 2004, there are about 423,081 patent applications filed in Japan (JPO), which is about 22% of the total patent applications filed worldwide, the highest number in all countries.

As a comparison, there are about 370,000 and 178,600 patent applications filed in the USPTO and EPO respectively in the same year.
Number of patent applications filed in 2004

Japanese patent database are rich sources of prior art
Japanese patents are the richest sources of prior art in the world, with more than 50 millions searchable patent and trademark documents, over 200 millions pages, stored at the JPO database. As a comparison, USPTO has stored about 10 millions of searchable documents including patents and trademarks.

Applications filed in Japan are published (laid open) 18 months after the filling or priority date regardless of the examination. The invention described in the published application become a prior art as of this disclosure.

While they can be difficult to search, Japanese sources are extremely important considering they are the richest prior art sources in the world and Japan is the 2nd largest economy with the most advanced technologies in many fields.

Without Japanese search, you are only 50% done even if you have thoroughly searched USPTO and EPO.

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