Japan, Nishimura & Asahi updates

Energy & Natural Resources

Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
METI green innovation fund
  • Japan
  • 31 May 2021

In order to help achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has decided to develop a green innovation fund of Y2 trillion as part of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation. METI has noted that the fund should focus on providing support to companies engaging in fields which have significant policy effects and require long-term, continuous funding support measures for research and development projects in order to reach implementation.

Updates to solar FIT decommissioning fee regulations
  • Japan
  • 19 April 2021

In June 2020 a bill was enacted pursuant to which the Japanese authorities can withhold a portion of payments under a power purchase agreement that will instead be placed in a reserve to cover decommissioning costs. While the final decommissioning regulations have not yet been published, a detailed outline of the regulations was recently published for public comment.

Biomass power generation: supply and sustainability
  • Japan
  • 05 April 2021

Biomass-fuelled power generation facilities continue to play an important role in Japan's renewable energy portfolio. While the requirements in this respect are complex, interest in biomass renewable energy remains strong. Further, it is anticipated that as the sustainability rules applicable to woody and agricultural biomass fuels are settled, interest and investment in the biomass industry will continue to accelerate. This article provides an overview of the sustainability rules applicable in Japan.

Update on FIT certificate nullification procedure
  • Japan
  • 23 November 2020

A significant component of the recently approved Proposal to Amend the Electricity Business Act for the Purposes of Establishing a Resilient and Sustainable Electricity System is the nullification of feed-in tariff (FIT) certificates. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has recently published a series of notices that provide further clarity on how the nullification will take effect and METI's intention to create exemptions for certain FIT certificate holders.

METI proposes maximum procurement price of offshore wind power for four promotion zones
  • Japan
  • 02 November 2020

The Committee on Procurement Price Calculation of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced a recommendation to set the maximum procurement price that bidders may propose in their development plans for offshore wind renewable energy power generation facilities at Y29 per kilowatt hour. This recommendation reduces the standard procurement price by approximately 20%. The reduction is not expected to affect the pre-tax internal rate of return for developers.

Intellectual Property

Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
Court dismisses Starbucks's trademark invalidation request despite survey results
  • Japan
  • 10 May 2021

The IP High Court recently confirmed the Japan Patent Office (JPO) Trial and Appeal Board's decision to dismiss Starbucks Corporation's request to invalidate a trademark which had a similar composition to that of its own. To prove that the composition of its trademark was well known and characteristic, Starbucks conducted a survey through a research company using an image that had undergone mosaic processing. However, the JPO and the IP High Court found that the survey was inappropriate.

Reformed Design Act expands protection for graphic images
  • Japan
  • 22 March 2021

The reformed Design Act came into force in 2020. This act expands the scope of protection for graphic images, meaning that they need not be recorded or displayed on articles (eg, computers or smartphones) to be considered protectable designs. According to statistics from the Japan Patent Office, 685 such applications had been filed as of January 2021.

Revisions to Copyright Act to tackle online pirating
  • Japan
  • 23 November 2020

In the past decade, the Japanese manga and entertainment industries have been severely damaged by pirate sites which typically operate on servers located in jurisdictions lacking sufficient copyright protection. To address these issues, the 2020 revisions to the Copyright Act introduced new measures to crack down on leech websites and expand the scope of illegal downloading.

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.

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