Japan, Nishimura & Asahi updates

Energy & Natural Resources

Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
FIP programme introduced
  • Japan
  • 04 May 2020

The proposed amendment to the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Procurement of Renewable Energy-Sourced Electricity by Electric Utilities will introduce a feed-in premium (FIP) programme. The proposed FIP programme provides that power producers will receive a premium in addition to the market price for the electricity which they generate instead of the fixed electricity price determined by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry under the current feed-in-tariff programme.

Impact of Civil Code reform on energy and natural resource transactions
  • Japan
  • 06 April 2020

In 2017 the Civil Code, which was enacted in 1896, was substantially amended for the first time in more than a century. Although the amendments, which came into effect on 1 April 2020, cover a broad range of issues, many were made to reflect existing case law and commonly accepted interpretations of the pre-amended Civil Code. However, there are some changes which may affect current practices in the energy sector.

Solar FIT decommissioning fee
  • Japan
  • 30 March 2020

Since April 2018, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has required business operators involved in solar power generation to set aside a certain amount of funds in preparation for the decommissioning of solar power plants. However, as of January 2019, less than 5% of business operators had complied with this rule. As such, METI established a working group to tackle the problems with the discretionary decommissioning reserve regime.

Cabinet approves Renewable Energy Act amendment bill
  • Japan
  • 23 March 2020

Cabinet recently approved the Proposal to Amend the Electricity Business Act for the Purposes of Establishing a Resilient and Sustainable Electricity System. The bill introduces a feed-in premium programme, under which energy developers developing projects after April 2022 may receive a certain premium on top of the market price for the electricity that they generate.

Impact of coronavirus on solar projects
  • Japan
  • 23 March 2020

It appears inevitable that the coronavirus pandemic will affect Japan's solar energy industry. For example, China's public health measures may have an adverse effect on the shipment of photovoltaic modules and other equipment manufactured there, on which many Japanese developers rely. Further, if the government declares a national emergency, this may inhibit engineering, procurement and construction contractors' ability to perform their obligations to develop and construct solar projects.

Intellectual Property

Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
IP-related support declaration for measures against COVID-19
  • Japan
  • 15 June 2020

The development, production and provision of therapeutic medications, vaccines, medical devices and infection control products are necessary to diagnose, prevent, contain and treat COVID-19. Patent owners and other IP rights holders must therefore cooperate with each other and support new ideas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without hindering development in the IP sector. To this end, an IP-related solution was recently announced in Japan – namely, the Open COVID-19 Declaration.

Effects of Civil Code amendment on IP licence agreements
  • Japan
  • 20 April 2020

As the Civil Code is the basic private law in Japan, the amended version will have a significant impact on the legal aspects of people's lives and their business relationships. Moreover, many of its provisions will affect IP licence agreements. This article addresses these provisions in greater detail, including in relation to non-conformity in contract subject matter, contract cancellation and pre-formulated terms and conditions.

Expanded protection for building and interior designs under revised Design Act
  • Japan
  • 27 January 2020

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced on its website that a Cabinet Order of 1 November 2019 had declared that the revised Design Act would come into force on 1 April 2020. This article provides a summary of the revised act's expanded scope of IP protection for building and interior designs.

Expanded protection for graphic images under revised Design Act
  • Japan
  • 16 December 2019

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced on its website that a Cabinet order of 1 November 2019 had declared that the reformed Design Act will come into force on 1 April 2020. Under the revised act, the scope of what constitutes a protectable design will be expanded; however, protection will be limited to commercial activities and not extended to using graphic images registered as designs for private activities.

Patent Act revisions: new evidence collection system and damages calculation methodology
  • Japan
  • 14 October 2019

Japan's patent litigation system has often been said to offer insufficient protection to patentees. As such, recent amendments to the Patent Act aim to improve the effectiveness of the patent litigation system and make it more favourable to patentees (especially small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups) by introducing a new evidence collection system and a new methodology for calculating damages.

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