Title:Protection of Intellectual Property
Professor Yuko Kimijima, Faculty of Law, Keio University（Intellectual property law）
In the early 90’s when I started my research on patent law, the idea ,that invention was protected as property only after the patent was issued by the government, was still common.
Businesses had, however, established practices such as managing inventions and know-hows as secret, entering a non-disclosure agreement with a party to whom the business discloses the secret information, and licensing know-how and receiving royalties therefor.
Such protection was legislated and strengthened as trade secrets protection through the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.
■Why are they protected legally?
Inventions and know-hows are ideas created by people.Once such ideas or information are known by others who have no confidentiality obligation, they can be communicated to others and used as public domain.
Do you know why such information may be protected as a patent right or trade secret?
If it is a trade secret, by managing the information as a secret, if the patent right, by specifying the invention in a patent claim or specification – a mechanism has been etsablished to specify such secret information or invention and to notify those who intend to access and/or use the information that the information is subject to someone’s rights or legal interests.
Furthermore, research and development (R&D) of advanced science and technology requires personnel expenses to hire excellent researchers and significant R&D expenses.
Investors will invest in such financially intensive R&D in advance only if such R&D would result in greater returns than the initial investment. To make the investment in the technology profitable, stable protection of patent rights and trade secret is important.
■Efforts of Technical Standardization
On the other hand, if the protection of intellectual property rights is too strong, the cost to use the protected technology becomes a great amount that it might prevent the diffusion of the technology.
To solve this problem efforts of technical standardization have been advanced. By technical standardization, it is critical to create the legal frameworks to avoid unreasonable costs on implementers of the standardized technology while ensuring a reasonable profit surplus for patent holders over their R&D investment.
■Currently, the protection and use of big data has been receiving attention.
On the use of data, many parties are involved, such as individuals and businesses providing data, businesses collecting data, businesses processing data, and so on. Not only humans but also AIs are intervening in these processes. I research the business practices and the necessity of new legislation in regard to usage of data sets which are produced as a result of such data processes.
In this way, it is a real pleasure of my research to pursue the legal protection of intellectual property by examining the progress of technology and the development of business practices, and while returning to the discussions to the fundamentals of civil and procedural law.