Region: Japan


The Trademark Law and its related regulations govern the registration and protection of trademarks in Japan.In addition, the Unfair Competition Prevention Law protects well-known trademarks, both registered and unregistered, as well as certain configurations of goods, from unauthorised use.

18 September 2015

The curious case of Ikuhiro Ueda, Japan's top filer

It would seem that where China has legions of trademark squatters, Japan may have one very determined individual sweeping up trademarks. In yesterday’s ‘Regional Update: China, Japan and Korea’ session, Nagomi Tsuchida of Hitachi presented a list of the leading trademark applicants over the past three years. And in that time, it seems, the country’s foremost brands – Kao, Sanrio, Shiseido – have been displaced at the top of the table quite decisively by one Ikuhiro Ueda.

06 May 2015

Japan launches non-traditional marks as it looks to the future

The Japan Patent Office has begun accepting applications for a range of non-traditional trademarks, nearly a year after the new options were announced in revisions to the country’s IP laws. The new rights include colours and sounds, as well as position marks, moving marks and holograms. According to the JPO website, the office received 471 applications on the first day of availability, April 1.

15 April 2015

IP High Court rules that 'Mount Asama' cannot be registered for beer

The IP High Court has upheld a decision of the Japan Patent Office rejecting the application for the registration of the mark ASAMAYAMA ('Mount Asama' in Japanese) for goods in Class 32. Among other things, the court found that the mark indicated the place of origin or sale of the goods and, therefore, fell within the scope of Article 3(1)(3) of the Trademark Law.

07 November 2014

Foreign companies may rely on unfair competition law to recover marks registered by third parties

In a landmark decision, the Tokyo District Court has accepted a foreign company’s claim that, although it had not yet entered the Japanese market, unfair competition law precluded the defendant from registering and using the plaintiff's marks in Japan. The case will be of interest to overseas companies seeking to enter the Japanese market, particularly if third parties have registered their trademarks in the country.

18 September 2014

IP High Court lacks HEART in cancelling mark under Article 51(1)

The IP High Court has upheld a decision of the Japan Patent Office cancelling the mark NURSE®/HEART/NURSE HEART for goods in Class 16. The court ruled that the trademark owner's subsequent use of HEART and HEART®, which were similar to the petitioner's HEART NURSING marks, intended to cause confusion with the petitioner's goods. This is one of the few cases in which a mark has been cancelled under Article 51(1) of the Trademark Law.

16 April 2014

Brand acquisitions set to continue as Asian brands eye international growth

The news that Japanese company Suntory Beverage & Food is to purchase British brands Ribena and Lucozade for an estimated $2.1 billion from GSK has grabbed media headlines across the globe. The deal indicates that Asian companies are venturing forth more aggressively than ever in terms of expanding their footprint into new markets. However, Asian companies that are acquiring foreign brands should keep one or two crucial considerations in mind.

17 September 2013

Intel fails to invalidate 'intel' mark for construction goods and services

The IP High Court has upheld the Patent Office's refusal to invalidate the registration for the trademark INTELGROW for goods in Class 19 and services in Class 37. Among other things, the court found that, although Intel Corporation’s INTEL mark was included in the INTELGROW mark, it was embedded within the total structure of the mark and would not be perceived independently.

16 July 2013

Injunction request based on trademark rights held to constitute abuse of rights

In <i>Oak Co Ltd v The Japan Kanji Aptitude Test Association</i>, the Osaka District Court has held that the act by the plaintiff of seeking an injunction against the defendant’s use of two trademarks based on the plaintiff’s rights in the marks constituted an abuse of rights. Among other things, the court found that the plaintiff sought only to jeopardise the continuation of the business of the defendant, which was the rightful owner of the trademarks.

30 April 2013

IP High Court confirms cancellation of mark for unfair use

The IP High Court has affirmed a Japan Patent Office trial decision that admitted a cancellation action for unfair use against the registration for the mark MULTIPROGREENS/MULTIPROGREEN for goods in Class 30. This is one of the rare cases in which a trademark has been cancelled under Article 51(1) of the Trademark Law.

19 April 2013

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