Jack Ellis

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) received its highest number of trademark applications in 10 years during 2016, according to the agency’s latest annual report. Of the top 10 registrants last year, nine were Japanese entities (the exception being South Korea’s LG Electronics).

The agency received a total of 161,589 trademark applications during 2016, representing a 9.9% increase on the previous year and the highest volume of filings in at least a decade. This figure includes 13,835 applications filed internationally under the Madrid system – the second-highest number over the past 10 years, and up more than two thousand on last year’s 15,984.

The vast majority of applications (133,337, or 82.38%) were filed by Japan residents. The next most frequent territory of origin was the United States (7,739; 4.79%), followed by China (4,530; 2.80%), Germany (2,141; 1.32%) and South Korea (2,027; 1.25%). Almost 86% of Germany’s applications were made via the Madrid route, which was a far greater proportion than any of the other top 10 territories of origin.

The JPO registered 105,207 trademarks in 2016 – the first time it has granted over 100,000 applications since 2013, and the largest number of registrations since 2009. The table below shows the 10 companies that registered the most trademarks with the JPO last year. All bar one – South Korea’s LG Electronics – are Japanese entities:

2016 rank

2015 rank

Company

Industry

Registrations

1

2

Sanrio

Entertainment

938

2

1

Shiseido

Personal care/cosmetics

539

3

15

Kosé Corp

Personal care/cosmetics

331

4

4

Kao Corp

Chemical engineering; personal care/cosmetics

330

5

3

Fujitsu

Information technology

309

6

38

LG Electronics

Electronics

234

7

11

Meiji

Dairy products

206

8

5

Morinaga Milk Industry

Dairy products

197

9

7

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical

Pharmaceuticals

181

10

8

Panasonic

Electronics

171

Notably, in 2016 the JPO saw its lowest number of requests for appeals against examiner refusals in the past 10 years. Trademark applicants made 514 such requests – down from a high of 1,916 in 2007.

It was a similar story with regards to requests for trademark invalidation; 96 were submitted to the JPO last year, compared to 102 in 2015 and 192 back in 2007. Opposition filings, on the other hand, rose slightly from 391 in 2015 to 449 last year.

The JPO saw a slight uptick in terms of design rights applications, from 29,903 in 2015 to 30,879 last year. This might in part be ascribed to Japan’s joining the Hague system in 2015 - the JPO received 452 international Hague applications that year, jumping to 2,083 in 2016.

Design rights registrations hit their lowest ebb in a decade, however, with the JPO granting 25,344 applications last year compared to a 2008 high of 29,382. The top territories of origin for design rights applications in 2016 were Japan (24,543; 79.48%), the United States (1,776; 5.75%), South Korea (630; 2.04%), Germany (613; 1.99%) and Switzerland (587; 1.90%).

The top 10 companies by design rights registrations last year are as follows:

2016 rank

2015 rank

Company

Industry

Registrations

1

1

Panasonic

Electronics

431

2

2

Mitsubishi Electric

Electronics/electrical equipment

415

3

3

Okamura

Furniture/storage

335

4

4

Lixil

Building materials/equipment

312

5

6

Honda

Automotive

233

6

5

Sharp

Electronics

215

7

12

Nissan

Automotive

157

8

51

Itoki

Furniture/storage

146

9

17

Toyota

Automotive

140

10

15

Dai Nippon Printing

Printing

139

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