Since April 2009, as a result of an amendment to Japan’s Patent Law, it has been possible to register a ‘provisional’ licence after a patent application has been filed but before a patent has been granted.
Before the amendment, a licence could be registered only after a patent had been approved. At that time, even if an invention was deemed useful, it was difficult for an applicant to enter into a licensing agreement before a patent was approved.
This was especially problematic for joint venture companies or venture capital companies that had strong technology but weak finances. This system tended to prevent users from adopting new technologies during the early stages of development and to obstruct payments to inventors.
As a result of the new system, the registration of a provisional licence, whether exclusive or not, allows a licensor (applicant) to issue a licence to one or more third parties. Even if the applicant has become insolvent, the licensee is protected against termination of the licence agreement by a receiver.
provisional licensing, JPO