Legislation on Trademark and Design

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Japan’s trademark system provides for the protection of the marks and logos that are used in commerce on goods or services. By enabling trademarks to identify the source of goods or services, and to identify their qualities and publicize them, the trademark system protects the commercial reputation of persons using trademarks, thereby contributing to the development of Japan’s industries and protecting the interests of consumers. Japan’s trademark system is regulated by the Trademark Law.

Japan’s Trademark System

Equality for both Japanese and Foreign Nationals

Japan’s Trademark Law offers equal protection for both Japanese and foreign nationals. The same trademark registration process and conditions apply to those residents in Japan and overseas. Therefore, by offering proper trademark protection to people who do not currently live in Japan and companies presently without head offices or branches in the country, Japan’s trademark system encourages future expansion into the Japanese market by overseas businesses.

First-to-file Rule

Trademarks do not have to be currently in use (either in Japan or overseas) in order to be registered in Japan. If the trademark owner has the intention of using the trademark in the future, it can be registered in Japan as long as certain criteria are met. Thus, it is very important for any foreign business that thinks it might expand into Japan at some time in the future to consider applying for registration of trademarks in Japan before entering the Japanese market. Note, however, that trademarks must be used within three years after registration, or they may be nullified. Using your trademark just once within those three years is enough to prevent your trademark rights from being cancelled.