Japan Trademark Law: 7 Highlighted Notes You Need To Know
Japan trademark law has become a necessary requirement that Japanese Government must concern. Japan Trademark Act (Act No. 127 of 1959) provides provisions to procedures of Japan Trademark. The following highlights all major contents of Japan trademark law.
Following the provision of Trademark Act, a trademark can be known as a sign used to distinguish goods/services of different organizations/individuals. A sign is considered a trademark when it satisfies conditions provided in Trademark Act: It must be a visible or an audible sign and it is can contain factors such as words, names, holograms, sounds, slogans, motion, shapes and colors. Besides, the trademark’s distinctiveness is a compulsory requirement. Hence, understanding the definition of a trademark and its conditions is very essential to register Japan Trademark practically.
“First to file” is a recognized rule used in applying Japan trademark. It means that if there are two or more applications for trademarks which are identical with or insignificantly different from each other, including identical or the same goods/services and identical or similar elements presented on trademark, the first application applied will be accepted for Japan trademark registration and other people shall not file and have rights with this trademark. There are some countries which use the rule “first to file”. For example, they are Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea, Canada, Thailand, the EU, Indonesia, China, Philippines .etc. By the contrary, some countries such as America, Australia follow the rule “first to use”.
Japan Trademark registration is not compulsory. However, when the trademark is registered, the owner shall have many benefits from registering. For example, it makes prime evidence if dispute occurs between the owner and other person who use the trademark illegally; it provides total protection for the trademark, area of protection covers national protection. More specially, since Japan is applying the rule “first to file”, filing Japan trademark application at the soonest time is very significant. When the trademark is accepted by competent authorities it will give owner exclusive use of the trademark. It means that no one, except the owner, can use the trademark for their goods/services legally.
If the owner wishes to see his trademark is not similar to others, the trademark must be checked its availability prior to registration. Several popular search tools, used to check distinctiveness of trademark: Global brand, Madrid System Monitor, Japan Platform for patent information, ect… Checking trademark shall be done by anyone, but it may be not accurate. Therefore, it is advised that the Japan trademark search should be conducted by a trademark attorney. From that, the holder shall have a better chance to register trademark in Japan.
In the respect of procedure of Japan trademark registration, there are two ways to file Japan trademark application. The holder can file Japan trademark application online at website: www.pcinfo.jpo.go.jp and then they can access online to the official file at website: www.J-platpat.inpit.go. Secondly, the applications can be filed directly in The Japanese Trademark Office. However, it is advised that applicants should use service of one IP Firm to file Japan trademark to save time and keep tracking of their trademark application in Japan.
After filing Japan trademark applications that, applications shall endure four stages which are Formality Examination, Gazette Industrial Property, Substantive examination and Granting certificate (if any). This is to ensure that the trademark is not similar with previous registered trademarks. It takes a long time approximately with about six months without opposition. However, when the Trademark Office has published the application on gazette, others can file an opposition against the holder’s trademark until finishing the process of substantive examination. Then, after the trademark in Japan is registered successfully, the holder shall receive trademark certificate in Japan and their trademark in Japan is protected within 10 years from its filing date.
After Japan trademark is registered successfully, the owner does not have to prove the use of their trademark, but they need to use it in practice. The reason is that within three years from date of Japan trademark registration, if the trademark is not used, any third parties could require the Trademark Office to cancel the validity of the trademark certificate for non – use. In this time, the owner needs to provide evidence of using to oppose this action. There are some exceptions that the owner does not have to prove the of trademark: import limitation, policy from other countries and a nature calamity or an objective event. Therefore, the holder should utilize their trademark in Japan if they do not want to be opposed to their Japan trademark certificate.
After registering trademark in Japan successfully, the owner will receive rights for their trademark. For details, owner’s rights are: right of using exclusively registered trademark, right to object subsequent conflicting application, to license the third parties to use the trademark in their business activities, to use actions protesting against the third party’s using illegally, rights to claim for priority in other countries signing treaties containing provisions on priority in which Japan has joined. Protecting time of Japan trademark is 10 years from the filing date; the owner can renew it validity of Japan trademark certificate by renewal procedures. Time to claim renewal has no more than 6 months before the renewal date and the grace is 6 months after renewal day is expired. A fine which is paid for late renewal is double the amount of the renewal fee.
Joining treaties and agreements relating to trademark is very important for countries, Japan is not an exception. This brings numerous benefits for to organizations and individuals in Japan. For example, the organizations and individuals can claim priority rights in other countries, so area of protection is larger; makes basis to improve Trademark act which still exist shortcomings and lack necessary provisions, to protect international trademarks. Japan has participated in many bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements such as Paris Convention, Trademark Law Treaty, Singapore Treaty, Nairobi treaty, Madrid Agreement, Madrid Protocol, Nice Agreement, Vienna Agreement. In the future, Japan will continue to take part in agreements to make advantages for companies, organizations and individuals who have demand of registering trademarks.
In conclusion, Japan trademark registration plays an important role in business activities. This insure that the holders have rights with their trademark and deal with infringement in practice.
– You can also check the Fee of Trademark In Japan here.
– You could read the required documents of trademark in Japan here.
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