Interviews with examiners are a vital tool during patent prosecution in Japan–able to make the difference between moving toward allowance and receiving a rejection. They have not always, however, been easily arranged for overseas applicants.
For the applicant wishing to explain directly the patentability of their invention to an Examiner, until recently in-person interviews conducted at the Japan Patent Office were the only practical recourse. Under limited circumstances, the JPO allowed video conference interviews with Examiners. Although it technically allowed this, the JPO neither advertised nor encouraged video conferences, and interviews could only be conducted at certain government facilities. Perhaps seeking to redress this inconvenience, the JPO has recently lifted the restriction regarding location, and interviews with JPO Examiners now may be conducted from anywhere in the world.
In order to hold a video conference interview with the Examiner, the Japanese attorney of record must also attend and lead the video interview with the Applicant. (At Keisen Associates, our attorneys are able to travel to meet with our clients interested in participating in a video conference interview and provide interpretation to ensure the optimal outcome.)