laws against countries that provide inadequate IPR protection could prove a powerful tool.
In addition, Japan has already committed itself to making “best efforts” to achieve an average pendency period of 24 months by 1995 under the Structural Impediments Initiative. This represents a signficant improvement over the present time period of 6 to 7 years for issuance of a typical patent. The United States should monitor Japan's progress on this front.
Achieve a coordinated strategy in the U.S. government.
In order to maximize U.S. interests in international IPR negotiations, the U.S. government must develop a coordinated strategy. Because patent and IPR issues are so broad, effective public-sector strategy building will require a great deal of interagency coordination, as well as the focused efforts of the agencies primarily responsible, such as U.S. Trade Representative. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for the U.S. government will be in determining which elements of the U.S. patent system might be changed as part of the global harmonization process. IPR issues engage a wide array of U.S. interests, including large and small companies, individual inventors, universities and the patent bar. Reconciling these interests will require broad consultation and high-level attention. The National Economic Council can play an important role in this process.
In addition, the IPR implications of policy changes in other areas, such as a greater emphasis on commercial technology in U.S. government R&D funding and broader government-sponsored R&D collaboration with Japan, need to be understood.
Work the current system more effectively by making IPR protection and exploitation a top priority within the overall business strategy.
Workshop participants agreed on a number of approaches that U.S. companies can use to overcome barriers to achieving effective IPR protection in Japan. U.S. companies competing with Japan in high-technology industries must devote more resources to protecting and managing IPR and to better integrating IPR functions with business and technology development functions. CEO attention will be necessary to spur change in all of these areas.
The difficulties faced by small- and medium-size U.S. companies in protecting intellectual property in Japan could also be addressed by U.S. policy. For example, the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) or other U.S. agencies could initiate programs providing assistance to help small- and medium-size companies obtain protection in Japan. This might include programs to expand access to translated Japanese applications or a mentoring program to link smaller firms to larger U.S. companies experienced in Japanese patenting.
In addition to working the Japanese patent system more effectively, some