“I am a good troll”: Ueda in his own words
In April 2019 WTR published an exclusive interview with Ueda, who shared with us a 17-page, 5,000-word manifesto on his vision for a reformed global IP rights system. An abridged version of that interview is presented here.
Despite being a ubiquitous figure in the trademark community for the past half-decade, relatively little is known about Ueda. In his mid-50s, domestic media has reported that he is a former benrishi (IP attorney) who resides in the Osaka prefecture. He also appears to have a YouTube channel, which carries lectures about IP law and, curiously, two videos from a decade ago featuring Ueda on stage singing and playing guitar. Other than that, he has generally sought to avoid the spotlight. However, he agreed to answer questions from WTR.
The first point that Ueda wanted to address was the claim that he is a ‘trademark troll’. “Some people may call me a troll, but I am never a bad troll, I am a good troll, that is, I am the best troll who can greatly contribute in the IP world,” he states.
“I have also heard from some people – such as trademark examiners at the JPO and individuals – that my trademark filing work is a ‘waste of time’ and a ‘nuisance’ to the JPO due to the work it takes for the office to go through my thousands of applications. But I believe that enormous numbers of the trademark applications always continue to activate my brain in order to make an idea necessary for establishing the rights processing system of industrial property rights in the IP world.”
Asked about how much time he spends processing trademark applications, he says that it “varies from day to day” and ranges between “10 minutes to 10 hours per day”. This is on top of a paid job as a lecturer in Japanese patent attorney examination. Yet he insists that he makes no money from his filing activities.
The 2018 trademark law revision is a topic of contention for Ueda, who is clearly unhappy at a perceived targeting by the JPO to stop his filing activity. “To clarify, the fewer trademark applications after the trademark law revision came into force was not caused by this revision but was due to my other busy work. However, I believe that the trademark law revision is illegal, that is, it is unconstitutional and should be declared null and void in the near future,” he tells us. “But, while I may think that the Japanese government and JPO want to stop me from filing trademark applications, they can never stop it because my purpose is just and right, and these applications continue to activate my brain.”
A manifesto for change
While it appears clear that some of Ueda’s applications directly target well-known brands, he firmly denies this assertion. “I never file trademark applications that are identical to well-known brand names,” he claims. “A trademark application or trademark right basically consists of two parts: as a mark and of the designated goods or services. So even if the mark is identical to a well-known brand name, if the designated goods or services are different, we can get the trademark right as to the designated goods or services. Basically, I will file trademark applications to which the trademark right can be granted.”
However, the details of Ueda’s vast trademark portfolio were not a priority for him during our interview. As well as answering our questions, Ueda sent WTR a 17-page, 5,000-word manifesto about his vision for a reformed global IP rights system (available in full here).
The proposal sets out several ambitious suggestions, including:
- a new international treaty (administered by WIPO) that would establish a no-fee IP rights processing system;
- a global IP digital library (also maintained by WIPO) that would link the digital IP databases of various countries;
- a new system for cancelling arbitration decisions; and
- a system wherein national IP offices (eg, the JPO and the USPTO) would help to manage IP licence agreements to reduce the time and cost for both licensors and licensees, and to grow the role of registries.
The manifesto clearly demonstrates Ueda’s in-depth knowledge of – and passion for – intellectual property. However, he is at pains to make clear that, despite its minuscule success rate, his trademark activity plays an important part in these wider ambitions.
“I do plan to continue filing lots of trademark applications to the JPO in the coming weeks, months and years,” he concludes. “Ultimately, my dream lies in establishing this IP rights processing system in the IP world, and I will always continue to research and develop my idea on the best licence system of IP rights (eg, patent, utility model, design and trademark) while filing many trademark applications.”
For the world’s most prolific trademark filer, it appears that nothing will change in his daily practice for the foreseeable future. Ueda intends to spend multiple hours a day filling in and submitting trademark applications, while he dreams up ambitious ways to transform the IP ecosystem.
The full interview is available here.