Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Kenneth L. Port

First Page



Like much of Japanese law, Japanese intellectual property law is often criticized as being inaccessible. This inaccessibility has contributed to the misperception that Japanese case law regarding intellectual property does not exist. Even if it exists, the perception goes, it takes forever to track down and it is nearly irrelevant.

This Commentary, in a very modest way, is aimed at debunking the myth that Japanese case law regarding intellectual property is either non-existent or less meaningful than its U.S. counterpart. This Commentary consists of five translations of recent, significant intellectual property cases, as well as commentary regarding the relevance and meaning of each case.

In the end, the most important objective of this Commentary is to show in bright letters that Japanese case law on intellectual property does exist and that it has a very rational and rich intellectual grounding.

Although the inaccessibility of actual opinions has been hard to refute, in September of 2000 the Japanese Supreme Court added an intellectual property category to its web page, www.courts.go.jp. In one motion, this has drastically reduced, if not totally eliminated, the appearance of inaccessibility. Now, sometimes even on the same day as they are issued--as in the JACCS Case translated below, intellectual property cases are posted on this site in very easy to read, large Japanese print.