Japanese patent and utility model recognition guide
- Field overview
- Document types
The following is a vague recognition guide to Japanese patents and utility models. Japanese patents on J-PlatPat and Espacenet are not transcribed, and the documents are scanned in fairly low resolution 1 bpp (pure black and white) which collectively results in extensive damage to the text. English text remains legible as the Latin alphabet is low in detail, but kanji are both highly detailed and absurdly high in number, making recognition extremely hard. It does not matter whether you use manual or automated radical breakdown or Google handwriting recognition: some characters are impossible to transcribe unless you know Japanese. Even kana, as simple as they look, are fraught with confusing typographical variations.
This page was originally created to ease the pain by indicating which metadata fields were worth even trying to transcribe (e.g. applicant, name of invention) but it has been extended to cover additional concepts and information.
This page was created solely for my own reference (since I can neither speak nor read Japanese), but I have extended it with some additional information that may prove useful. It is intentionally not a complete or comprehensive guide.
|Field no.||Legend||Field purpose|
|1||考案の名称||Name of invention|
Many patents use INID codes. Although these are internationally agreed, US and Japanese patents do not use all the same fields. For example, Japanese patents use fields 72 and 71 for applicant and inventor, while US patents use 75 and 73. US patents use field 10 for the patent number, and Japanese patents use field 11.
|Field no.||Legend||Field purpose|
|11||Various||Document number (the legends overlap with the values of field 12); patent numbers may be prefixed with “特開”, e.g. 特開平4-220915 (Japanese patent H04-220915, where 平4 is Heisei 4 or 1992 — see dates below), while utility model numbers may be prefixed with “実公”, e.g. 実公平6-14373 (Japanese utility model H06-15373)|
|12||—||Document type (see document types below)|
|19||—||“office or organization publishing the document”; here, “日本国特許庁” = Japanese Patent Office|
|21||実願 or 出願番号||Application number|
|22||出願 or 出願日||Application date or filing date (see dates below)|
|54||考案の名称 or 発明の名称||Name of invention|
In Japan there are utility models in addition to patents. There are also lots of different classification states for the documents. I do not pretend to understand any of this! For me it is simply a matter of being sure to not call a utility model a patent, and vice versa! Patent processes in Japan and Germany seem to be the most complicated.
Japanese patent numbers take the form of the year (in era format) followed by the serial number for that year, followed lastly by the suffix. The same numeric code can represent more than one document depending on the suffix, and this gets very confusing when trying to locate patents and utility models from J-PlatPat on Google Patents and Espacenet.
The translations below are from Google and may not be precisely correct.
|実用新案出願公開||11||Utility model application publication|
|実用新案出願公告||11||Utility model application announcement|
|実用新案出願公告番号||11||Utility model application notice number|
|実用新案公報||12||Y2||Utility model bulletin|
|特許出願公開||11||Patent application publication|
|特許出願公開番号||11||Patent application publication number|
|公開特許公報||12||A||Published patent publication|
|公開実用新案公報||12||U||Published utility model|
Japanese dates are written in the order year, month, day. For example, the Gregorian date 25th of April 1981 could be written as any of the following:
- 56.04.25 (as seen in Hirose Cherry keyboards)
- 昭56(1981)年4月25日 (found in some patents)
- 昭56(1981)4月25日 (found in some patents, with “年” omitted)
- ’81.4.25 (“’81” instead of “81” to avoid confusion with Japanese era dates)
Two-digit Gregorian years may be preceded with an apostrophe for clarity. On Alps batch labels where the ink has faded, it can be hard to determine whether a year such as “01” means 平成1 (1989) or 2001, although Alps appear to use Gregorian years on their rubber stamps. Leading zeroes for dot-notation are unverified; in one case (an Alps date stamp from 1987) the day has a leading zero but the month does not.
For dates outside of the range 1960–2000, see Japanese Date Comparison Chart. Dates that interest us will begin “昭和” or simply “昭” for the Showa era (1927–1989) and “平成” for the Heisei era (1989 onwards, where 昭和64 = 平成1 = 1989). Patent numbers begin with the year in Japanese era format, for example a patent from 1988—Showa 63—has a number beginning “昭和63…”. In the Latin alphabet, “昭和” in patent numbers is converted to “S”, giving a patent number beginning “S63…”. Likewise, patents from the Heisei era have “平成” converted to “H”, so a 1994 patent number will begin “平成04” in Japanese, and “H04…” in the Latin alphabet.
|アルプス （アルプス電気、アルプス電気株式会社）||Alps (Alps Electric, Alps Electric Co., Ltd.)|
|富士通 （富士通株式会社）||Fujitsu (Fujitsu Limited)|
|ミツミ （ミツミ電機株式会社）||Mitsumi (Mitsumi Electric Co., Ltd.)|
Some Japanese words can be found written in kanji, or spelled phonetically in katakana (technical loanwords may only have a kana form). Technical limitations and typographic choices have meant that small kana can be found written in large size or indistinguishable from large size. Fortunately, J-PlatPat accommodates this by matching either. Forms that incorrectly use full-size kana are given in parentheses below.
Where “ー” ends an agent noun (e.g. “スライダー”, “slider”) in technical terminology, it is commonly omitted. Apparently J-PlatPat does not treat the likes of “スライダー” and “スライダ” as equivalent.
The list below is in English alphabetical order.
|押釦スイッチ （押釦スイツチ）||pushbutton switch|
|スライダー / スライダ||slider|
Thanks go to Kiyoto for most of this list.