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The Japan Patent Office (JPO) has announced that the examination guidelines have been revised and are applied to examination procedures from 1 July 2013 onwards. The revised guidelines expand the scope of inventions to be examined in cases where they do not meet the criteria for unity of invention. In addition, the requirements for so-called shift amendments have been relaxed.
The new guidelines for unity requirements apply to applications filed on or after 1 January 2004; those for shift amendments apply to applications filed on or after 1 April 2007. For more information, see this announcement on the JPO website (Japanese only).