Proposed by the Japan Patent Office, a new law could see courts appoint a neutral expert to search factories for evidence of patent infringement. Patent cases in Japan usually require a high burden of proof on the party claiming infringement. Courts can, however, order defendants to turn over documents and products, but cases involving less tangible intellectual property such as manufacturing methods can be difficult to prove without access to relevant sites.

The proposed system would bring Japan in line with countries such as the U.S., Germany and the U.K.; however, inspections will be restricted, being limited to cases where the necessary evidence cannot be gathered by any other means.

The changes will be submitted to Japan’s parliament next week.

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