TOKYO -- Sony will participate in a new joint venture that aims to slash by up to half the amount of money companies typically shell out to prepare for a U.S. patent filing.
The new firm will be established in Tokyo around mid-February with a capitalization of around 20 million yen ($191,388). Sony will take a 10% stake, while the Japanese arm of Evalueserve, an Indian provider of intellectual property and legal support services, will hold 55%. The Yotsuya office of Hazuki International, a Tokyo-based company that provides patent filing services in Japan and the U.S., will obtain a 35% interest.
The joint venture will review patent applications that domestic firms have already filed in Japan and adjust them for U.S. filings. The Japanese paperwork will first be translated into English, then reworked in India for a U.S. patent application. Once in order, the documents will be sent to the U.S., where lawyers will check their content before filing with the patent authorities.
Sony applies for about 2,000 patents a year in the U.S. It plans to outsource about 500 patent applications that do not involve its most advanced technologies to the joint venture. The new company will also solicit filings from electrical machinery, automotive and information technology companies, with the goal of handling 4,000 patent cases after three years.
A typical Japanese patent filing in the electrical machinery field can cost about 600,000 yen. But expenses can nearly triple to 1.8 million yen when also filing in the U.S. because duties are outsourced to a patent service provider there.
By dipping into India's inexpensive labor pool and developing a large client base, the joint venture aims to lower fees for its U.S. patent filing service by 30-50%.
The U.S. is a hotbed for patent disputes, where even major firms such as Apple and South Korea's Samsung Electronics have battled each other. In 2012, U.S. patent litigation cases roughly doubled from five years earlier. Japanese companies have become a target as well and are boosting their U.S. patent filings as a way to fight back.