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Trademarks/Unfair Competition

Mizuno Triumphs in IP High Court Trade Mark Battle

This commentary discusses an interesting case which saw a leading Japanese sporting goods company successfully invalidating an junior Chinese competitor's device mark registration in Japan on the ground that subject marks were liable to cause confusion with goods and services connected with another's business, Mizuno Corporation v. Fujian Hongxing Erke Sports Goods Co., Ltd., Case No. Heisei 28 (gyo-ke) 10262 dated September 13, 2017.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

The God of Ramen Rebuffed: Trade Marks and Full Names in Japan

A pair of Intellectual Property High Court of Japan decisions confirming the non-registrability of one's full name as a registered trade mark is a cautionary tale warning that one’s full name, no matter how famous, is not necessarily the best choice for a registered trademark in Japan.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

FRANK MIURA mauls FRANK MUELLER in stunning Japan Trademark Mêlée

In a surprising decision, the owner of a famous European luxury watch brand was handed an unexpected stunning trademark defeat by the Intellectual Property High Court of Japan which held that a junior FRANK MIURA trademark registration was not confusingly similar with the iconic luxury watch brand FRANK MUELLER. The article will examine the Japanese courts’ handling of parody marks and also review the comparative law position of parody marks in the European Union and the United States.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

Non-traditional trade marks thriving in Japan

On April 1, 2015, numerous brand owners heartily embraced Japan’s liberalized trademark system by filing an astonishing 481 non-traditional trademark applications on the very first day that the new law permitting such marks took effect. This article examines several of the non-traditional trademark applications that were successfully registered in Japan and discusses the issues that might arise in connection with challenging and defending against the enforcement of nontraditional marks.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

Flat Screen Display Material IGZO Trademark Invalidated by Japan IP High Court

Recently more Japanese parties are initiating lawsuits in Japan, which indicates a willingness to protect and advance their business interests through intellectual property litigation. This article discusses a Japanese trademark dispute between a Japanese government-linked agency and a major Japanese electronics company with over 49,000 employees worldwide that vividly illustrates the increased willingness to resort to litigation to resolve disputes thereby breaking the myth of the reluctant litigant in Japan.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

Japan Certifies First Ever Healthy Non-Alcoholic Beer

Japan is a pioneer in regulating such health labeling claims and its business-friendly regulatory approach is highlighted by the certification of the first ever beer-like nonalcoholic beverages for specified health use on February 18, 2015. This development is not surprising given the difficult economic climate and increasing health consciousness, beverage producers have worked to improve the image of carbonated drinks to boost sales, developing various sugar-free and zero-calorie offerings and developing nonalcoholic beer-like drinks with health benefits was inevitable.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

Breweries Battle over Intellectual Property and Innovation in Japan

The battle of the breweries is indicative of the wider trend of Japanese companies displaying a new enthusiasm for enforcing their intellectual property rights through litigation. This has become a necessary rule of doing business and maintaining competitive advantage in the Japanese marketplace, rather than an exception.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

Expanding the realm of the senses: non-traditional trade marks in Japan

On March 11, 2014, Japan promulgated significant legislative changes to its trademark law and practice which are expected to come into force on April 1, 2015. Trademark holders that employ exciting, dynamic and distinctive indications to distinguish their valuable goods and services in the Japanese marketplace can file and obtain trademark registration protection over their ‘nontraditional' trademarks, like distinctive motions, sounds and colors.

John A. Tessensohn and Shusaku Yamamoto

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