As the number of companies expanding overseas increases, problems such as imitation of own brands and technology leakage have been highlighted. It is necessary to obtain a patent to protect the company’s brand and technology, and to avoid a reduction in sales channels and sales and a deterioration in the company’s image. For companies planning to expand overseas, first check the importance and system of international patents for overseas expansion.

Importance of International Patents in Overseas Expansion

The reason why international patents are necessary for overseas expansion is that intellectual property systems are independent in each country. Even if you have obtained a patent in Japan, you cannot compete if you provide products and manufacturing know-how overseas and are copied. If our products are imitated, there will be competition with imitation products in the host country, and sales will decline and we may lose to inexpensive local products. An unexpected slump in sales is a risk that could lead to serious damage in overseas operations where large investments are made.

In order to protect our intellectual property overseas, it is necessary to apply for patent rights, utility model rights, design rights and trademark rights in the host country. If you want to expand your business overseas, you should first apply for international patents for your products and technologies.

How to apply for international patents in overseas expansion

When you enter a foreign country, you need to apply for a patent in the country where you enter, because the patent of your country will not be valid. International patents are filed at overseas patent offices. It is common to ask a representative to file an application. Therefore, in addition to the application fee, there will be an agent fee. Also, a patent or utility model application requires a translation of the description, and the cost must be remembered.

Not all applications for intellectual property rights are required for overseas expansion. Depending on the purpose and method of your business, you can save money by filing only the necessary applications.

Also, you may not need to file a patent application in each country where you are located. It is called the international application system. If a member country has concluded a treaty or an agreement, one application is applied to multiple countries. There are PCT international applications, Hague applications, and Madpro applications, and you can apply for intellectual property rights in each country.

Of course, not all applications are approved. Since each of them is examined, even those patented in Japan may not be approved.

Public support for patent applications for overseas expansion

Subsidy for Overseas Application and Infringement Countermeasures for SMEs, etc. (SME, etc. Foreign Application Support Program)

Acquisition of intellectual property rights overseas, including foreign application costs, tends to be burdensome for SMEs expanding overseas. It is a subsidy project to support it. Patent applications are important for protecting a company’s brand, technology, and design, but they can be difficult for small and medium-sized companies with small funds because of the financial burden. This subsidy covers part of the necessary costs related to patent applications in order to reduce the burden and protect the superior technologies of Japanese SMEs. Available to groups of small and medium businesses and sole proprietors. Local group trademarks also include chambers of commerce and industry and NPOs.

  • Expenses to be subsidized
  • Fees for filing applications with foreign patent offices
  • National Transfer Costs of PCT International Application (International applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT))
  • Hague Application (International Registration System for Industrial Designs) Costs
  • Madpro Application (International applications under the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement) Costs
  • Foreign filing cost of the trademark for the purpose of countering the challenge application
  • Domestic and international agency expenses
  • translation cost

The contact points are the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) and prefectural SME support centers. The maximum amount is 3 million yen for 1 company, and you can subsidize up to half of the expenses. You can apply multiple times within the maximum amount.

We have also started providing subsidies to small and medium-sized companies in Tokyo to support measures against similar trademarks. “Support for overseas trademark measures” is a business that supports overseas expansion and market expansion by SMEs. Measures and expenses will be subsidized for similar trademarks of other companies in overseas bases and countries where operations are planned.

Expenses to be subsidized

Costs related to information collection (Collection and investigation of evidence, etc.)
Trial for revocation of non-use of opposition, trial for invalidation, administrative litigation costs

The maximum amount is 5 million yen, and the subsidy rate is less than half of the expenses.Application period is up to December 31, 2021. We also provide support in cooperation with patent attorneys and overseas law firms. The counter is Tokyo Metropolitan Intellectual Property Center.

It is also important for SMEs with limited funds to consider such public assistance to protect their brands when they expand overseas. Protecting Japan’s high technology and brands will further enhance the value of Made in Japan.

Patent Office “Subsidy for Overseas Application and Infringement Countermeasures for SMEs, etc.
Patent Office “Overseas application support institution for small and medium-sized enterprises, etc.
Tokyo “Support for overseas trademark measures” “Support for commercialization of products utilizing intellectual property


An application for an international patent is required for companies planning to expand overseas. The rights protected in Japan are not protected abroad as well. Patent applications are thought to be difficult and expensive, but there is a way to apply with less labor and cost, and subsidies are available for small and medium enterprises. To protect your brand, technology, and design, apply for an international patent in preparation for overseas expansion.