Sunday, December 27, 2015

Japan Earned 30.5B Dollars from Technology Exports in 2014

Japanese government released results of the Survey of Research and Development on December 15, and it was found that Japan earned 30.5B dollars (an increase of 7.8% from the previous year) from technology exports in 2014. The technology export includes patent licensing and technical guidance fee. It has increased for three (3) consecutive years since 2012 and showed the highest figure. 

In regional breakdown, the North America is the largest trading partner (44% of export value) and the second is Asia (40%). However, it includes trading between a parent company and its subsidiaries. When such trading with subsidiaries is excluded, Asia gets the first place (49%) and the North America moves to the second place (30%).

Results of the Survey of Research and Development

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Application Screen Will Come Under Protection by Design Law in Japan

Recently, there are many applications which have similar design or layout. However, things may change next year. 

JPO will amend Design Examination Guidelines to protect application screen, e.g. design or layout of video chat application, which is displayed on smart phone, tablet, personal computer etc. from April, 2016. The design law was once amended in 2006 to protect display screen on digital equipment such as portable music player, but application screen was not included at that time. As for Website design or layout, it will not be included for protection in the amendment next year. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Japanese Sake" Will Not Be Allowed to Be Specified in Goods or Services for Trademark Registration

As reported in the previous post, "Japanese Sake" is going to be protected as a geographical indication. Responding to this, JPO made an announcement about the examination guidelines for trademarks which includes "Japanese sake" in goods or services.

To prevent "Japanese sake" from becoming generic, JPO decided to reject such trademark applications. The applicant may amend the goods or services to indicate more specific goods or services, such as  "refined sake", "unrefined sake", "shochu", "awamori", etc. or "refinded sake which is brewed in Japan using domestic rice". 

JPO's Announcement (Japanese)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Patents of Japanese National Universities Are Liabilities, Not Assets?!

According to the investigation by Board of Audit of Japan, it was found that more than 80% of national universities and independent administrative corporations are in deficit on the patent balance of payments in 2009-2013. They could not earn more money from their patents than patent filing and maintenance fee. They were totally 18M dollars (2.2B JPY) in the red in 2013. 

As a result of the investigation, Board of Audit of Japan instructed them to deal with this issue, e.g. by withdrawing or disposing patents which they cannot commercialize. Therefore, many patents of them may appear on the patent market soon. 

Press Release of Board of Audit of Japan (Japanese)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Selfie Stick, Once Introduced as Japanese Useless Invention

I have learned that selfie stick was invented by Japanese inventors working at Minolta Camera (Current Konica Minolta ) and granted in the United States in 1985. Minolta commercialized this invention but didn't become popular. And it was introduced as a useless Japanese invention in a 1995 book. Camera was too heavy at that time. It was maybe too early to implement the idea.

Seems that Japanese companies are not good at spreading their technologies worldwide, even if they are good ones. I have been thinking it is a critical issue for Japanese companies. Maybe we can find other good ideas in old unused patents.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

JPO Will Pay IP Insurance Fee for SME

It was reported that Japan Patent Office (JPO) will introduce a new IP insurance system for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in 2016. This insurance is against IP litigation where SME infringes other party's intellectual property rights abroad. Surprisingly, JPO will go halves with chamber of commerce in such IP insurance fee for SME. The company doesn't have to pay insurance fee, but pay member fee of the chamber of commerce. This is a measure to support overseas expansion for SME.

JPO may conduct preliminary review, but there is no information about it. I don't think of JPO as being such a risk taker. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Takeda Pharmaceutical Partners with Teva to Establish a New Company to Sell Generic

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. announced on Nov. 30 that they will establish a new company with an Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. after next spring to sell generic drugs. Teva holds 51% of shares, while Takeda holds 49%.

Behind this background, Japanese government is planning to increase prescription rate of generic drugs to more than 80% by 2020, to reduce medical expenses. Therefore, Takeda needs to focus on development of new drugs. Takeda will transfer sale of off-patent drugs to the new company.

Interestingly, as introduced in this blog on Nov. 19, the Supreme Court made a decision which expands the possibility of Patent Term Extension (PTE) being approved for drug patents. The government may be sending the message that new drug development companies should give up making a profit from the drugs that went off-patent and should focus on the development of new drugs, in return for flexible operation of PTE. 

Takeda's Press Release

Friday, November 27, 2015

Restarted Tokyo Olympics Emblems Selection Process

Three months passed after the earlier decision of Olympics Emblems was reversed due to a suspicion of theft of designs. The emblem selection committee restarted to invite the public to offer their designs on November 24, and already received about 300 applications. The committee expects around 10,000 applications until the due date December 7, since more than 70,000 application guidebook was downloaded.

The previous process was criticized for being unclear. Therefore, the committee is considering public vote this time. However, there is some downside to disclosing to the public the candidate designs. Someone may maliciously file trademark applications, or many people may try to find similar designs. Anyway, the committee is likely to face a rough passage for the emblem selection. 

Special webpage for the Tokyo2020 Games emblems

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Seem Unlikely to Change Japanese Injunction System against PAE and SEP

Japan government formed a committee to discuss how intellectual property dispute-settlement system should be. The first topic was injunction system. In particular, the committee discussed whether the right to demand injunction of patent holders should be limited in some cases, considering recent cases such as enforcement based on standard essential patents (SEP) and enforcement by patent assertion entity (PAE).

The bottom line is that they decided that the right to demand injunction should not be limited in a single uniform way, but   should be considered on a case-by-case basis, under the theory of abuse of right and/or competition law, in both cases of SEP and PAE, because it is essential part of patent right to allow to exclusively execute the invention. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Japanese Cartoons (Manga) Become Availabe at Piracy Sites in 4 Hours?!

In the cases of unauthorized disclosure of Japanese serial cartoons in comic magazines before their release, Japan police (Kyoto) arrested one Japanese and five Chinese on suspicion of copyright infringement this month.

In these cases, the Japanese suspect working at a delivery firm passed the comic magazines to the Chinese suspects in the course of delivery. Then, Chinese suspects sent them to their team in China to translate into English and upload to their piracy sites. In the fastest cases, such translated cartoons became available at their piracy sites after 4 to 5 hours after the Chinese suspects received them. 

I hope everyone including readers respects creators and compensate them to enjoy their works.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Japan Supreme Court Approved PTE Based on 2nd MA for Drug Having Same Ingredients but Different Dosage (Genentech Inc. v. JPO)

A good news for new drug developers. Japan Supreme Court made a decision on November 17 in Genentech Inc. v. JPO that Patent Term Extension (PTE) should be approved for a drug patent when the drug is granted marketing authorization (MA) for different dosage and administration even if the drug has the same ingredients.

Japanese patent law allows PTE for up to 5 years for a drug patent, considering the duration spent for MA. Genentech owns patents for anticancer drug “Avastin”. They got granted MA in 2007 for the drug of which dosage and administration is 5mg/kg or 10mg/kg, and JPO approved PTE for 4 years or so. After that, they got granted another MA in 2009 for the drug having same ingredients but for different dosage and administration, i.e. 7.5 mg/kg, and they applied for further PTE. However, JPO rejected it, because the drug has the same ingredients, according to the examination guidelines.  

The Supreme Court stated that PTE should be approved when a drug granted latter MA is different from another drug granted the former MA, and when the two of the drugs are different in dosage and administration, they are different even when they have same ingredients.

In response to this decision, JPO announced the next day that the amended examination guidelines will be published in spring next year. Until then, the PTE related examinations for drug patents will be suspended. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Japan's Basic Plan for Science and Technology Will Set Numerical Targets

Japan government will set numerical targets in the 5th stage of Basic Plan for Science and Technology. The basic plan is revised every half-decade, and the 5th stage basic plan indicates the direction of Japanese science and technology in 2016-2020.

The 5th stage basic plan will include 23 numerical targets, for example:
  • Rank order of national universities in the world ranking
  • Number of university ventures
  • Number of IPO for R&D types of ventures
  • Share of products and services in the world market
Also, it will be likely to include the intellectual property (IP) related targets, such as:
  • Number of IPs, technical papers, standards in the area of ICT (information and communication technology)
  • Number of technical papers which are cited in patent documents
The 5th stage basic plan will be developed by December this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

WIPO IP Report / Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators: Japanese Companies Showing The Presence

WIPO IP Report 2015 and Thomson Reuters's Top 100 Global Innovators were published on November 11th and 12th respectively. In response to them, Japanese media reported that Japanese companies are showing their competitiveness; i.e. eight Japanese companies are ranked among the top 10 in the number of patent applications in robotics area, and forty Japanese companies are chosen in the top 100 global innovators.

However, it should be noted that Japanese companies have always been investing a huge money in R&D and IP, but most of them have been facing difficulties in business. Considering that, recently, Japanese companies and government are discussing and implementing a variety of measures to use IP effectively.  Hopefully such measures will work well.

My concern is that the share of academic patenting in Japan is lower than other countries (See Figure 6, Page 13 of WIPO IP Report). And Japanese universities moved down on the list of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The WIPO IP Report says that "the science system and formal linkages between scientific institutions and companies appear to be more important today than in the past". Hope academic will improve their performance.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Japan Earned 9.7B Dollars from Intellectual Property Revenues in 1H of 2015

Ministry of Finance Japan put out a press release on November 10 stating that Balance of Payments in the first half (April to September) of fiscal year 2015 recorded a surplus of 8,693.8B JPY (72.4B USD), that is 4.3 times more than the same period last year and recovered to the pre-quake level.

In particular, the royalty revenues for intellectual properties recorded a surplus of 1,170.6B JPY (9,755M USD) that shows a 64% rise and largest-ever in the 1H of years. That currently consists mostly of revenues from overseas subsidiaries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

IPBC Asia 2015 Drawn to Successful Close

The IP Business Congress Asia (IPBC Asia) was held from November 8 to 10 in Tokyo. This event "focuses on how IP owners can strategically use intellectual property to secure greater operational flexibility, drive revenues, enhance bottom-line returns, increase shareholder value and provide leverage in the financial markets".

This is the fourth IPBC for me since last year, i.e. those held in Shanghai, Beijing, San Francisco and now Tokyo. I made many new friends at these events and got updates on IP businesses every time.

Here is nice summary for Day 1 and Day 2 which were prepared by Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) staff who is a host of this event.

Day 1
US market dominance under serious threat and much more from IPBC Asia 2015 Day One

Day 2
Buying strategies for growing companies; the great "troll" debate; US hope & more at IPBC Asia 2015 Day Two

Sunday, November 8, 2015

[TPP] Japan Requires Complaint by Copyright Holder to Initiate Legal Action Against Derivative Work

The advisory body to the government on copyright matters had a meeting on Nov. 4 to examine direction on developing copyright law corresponding to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

One of questions is whether or not Article 18.77 6 (g) should be applied to not only an exact copy of an original work, but also its derivative work. On this issue, interestingly, even representatives of copyright holders on music, book and movie respectively expressed concern over the possible chilling effect, by applying it to the derivative work, on creative activities or fan art, cosplay, doujin manga to which copyright holders give silent approval.

After all, they agreed that this article should not be applied to such derivative works. Therefore, in Japan, this article will be applied only to piracy infringement which a copyright holder doesn't want. It was reported that there were no objections raised to this direction in the meeting.

Article 18.77: Criminal Procedures and Penalties 
 1. Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at least in cases of wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale. In respect of wilful copyright or related rights piracy, “on a commercial scale” includes at least:  
(a)  acts carried out for commercial advantage or financial gain; and 
(b)  significant acts, not carried out for commercial advantage or financial gain, that have a substantial prejudicial impact on the interests of the copyright or related rights holder in relation to the marketplace. 
 6. With respect to the offences described in paragraphs 1 through 5, each Party shall provide the following: 
(g)  Its competent authorities may act upon their own initiative to initiate legal action without the need for a formal complaint by a third person or right holder. 
- Media Report on This News (Japanese)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Business Model for Game Companies? - BANDAI NAMCO's IP Release Project Works Well

Allowing others to create derivative works based on characters and/or musics in a video game and obtaining part of the profits from the sales or advertising revenue of such derivative works. BANDA NAMCO Entertainment Inc. started such a project this April, celebrating the 10th year anniversary of consolidation of BANDAI and NAMCO. They released intellectual properties of 17 games including PAC-MAN, MAPPY, and DRAGON BUSTER which were popular in '80s.

According to the report, BANDAI NAMCO received more than 200 plans, passed 108 plans among them, and 18 games or works are already available. Unless it is offensive to public order and morals, every plan is approved.

This project is open for a limited time and domestic companies, creators and schools. However, if all goes well, they may expand this project to abroad, or even other companies may try to start similar projects.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Suntory Loses A Patent Infringement Case on Nonalcoholic Beer against Asahi

Tokyo District Court rejected Suntory Holdings Ltd.'s demand for an injunction against production and sales of nonalcoholic beer of Asahi Breweries, Ltd. on ground of patent infringement (Patent Number: 5382754), on Oct. 29.

The Suntory's patent is characterized by numerical limitations to sugar content, extracted component, and pH value, which improves satisfaction to drink, according to Suntory.

The court made a decision that the Suntory's patent should be invalidated due to lack of inventive step, considering that the description doesn't demonstrate the interconnectedness of each of these numerical limitations, but just showing the range of sugar content, extracted component, and pH value respectively.
Article 104-3  (1) Where, in litigation concerning the infringement of a patent right or an exclusive license, the said patent is recognized as one that should be invalidated by a trial for patent invalidation, the rights of the patentee or exclusive licensee may not be exercised against the adverse party.
Suntory plans to appeal a ruling. 

Note: This patent (No. 5382754) is divided from Patent No. 5314220 based on WO2013/077292 which entered national phase in Australia, Canada, EPO, Korea, and Russia, in addition to Japan.

You can access the decision (Japanese) here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Use Of The Name of "Japanese Sake" Will Be Rigidly Controlled

There is a sake brewery in Seattle. The name of the brewery is Tomizawa-shuzo. After the nuclear accident in Fukushima in March, 2011, they moved with sake yeast "Shirafuji" to Seattle where the environment is similar to that of Fukushima and restarted sake-making there. However, such sake breweries serving overseas may become unable to call their sake "Japanese sake".

Japanese government indicated a policy of protecting Japanese sake as a geographical indication within this year. Then, refined sake which is brewed in Japan using domestic rice only is admitted to call "Japanese sake".

In the same way, "Japanese wine" will be also limited to use for the wine made in Japan from domestic grapes. This will come into force 3 years later.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

UBIC Launches AI-Based Intellectual Property Strategy Support System

UBIC Inc. announced today that they will start providing an AI (Artificial Intelligence)-based intellectual property strategy support system soon which was developed with Toyota Technical Development Corporation. This system assists a legal department to research and analyze patent documents to check if their products infringe other parties' patents.

According to another article,  some law firms in the US are already test-driving AI-based applications.

AI technologies may truly steal our jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

JPO Unveiled The New Types of Trademarks Accepted

In Japan, new types of trademarks, i.e. Sound marks, Moving marks, Position marks, Hologram marks, and Color marks, have become available for registration since this April. JPO (Japan Patent Office) has unveiled today the new types of trademarks which were accepted.

List of Accepted New Types of Trademarks

JPO have received more than 1,000 trademark applications for the new types of trademarks until today, and accepted 43 trademarks (21 for sound mark; 16 for moving marks; 5 for position marks; 1 for hologram marks; 0 for color marks). Any color marks have not been accepted yet. A single color marks could be difficult to accept, but some combination of colors could be accepted by limiting the scope of goods or services. What color mark will be accepted first? Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Logo Design Row Following Tokyo 2020 Olympic Logo

After the Olympic logo design row, everyone has become an examiner. A new logo of Tokyo "& TOKYO" was examined by Internet users as soon as it was announced, they cited a logo design of a law firm in New Zealand "JONES&CO" as a prior art. Certainly, the design of "&" looks similar.

Another local government which advertised for logo requested the submitters to file a trademark application and make a signed statement of originality. Since copyright is generally protected worldwide without registration, copyright search has a lot of trouble. Also, when your copyright work is originally created without referring other people's work, it does not infringe copyright right, even if it is identical or similar. Of course, you have to prove originality on your work. 

Anyway, such an logo design row will go on for a while. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Next Pretty Cure (PreCure) is Wizard!?

It was found that the next PreCure, a Japanese popular anime series, is a wizard, by searching trademark applications filed by Toei Company, Ltd., a Japanese film, television production and distribution corporation. The title of another Toei's TV movie was revealed just a month ago, as reported here.

Toei may should consult the way of Apple and Google. First of all, they file a trademark application in the countries of which trademark system does not publicly disclose the application, and then file a claim for priority in their own country. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Driving Open Innovation

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced on Oct. 19 that they publicly seek technology seeds which fit their needs and research partners. MHI will own the outcome including intellectual properties from the research.

Such effort of driving Open Innovation by MHI should be recognized. However, they should have announced this on their global website, not only on the local (Japanese) website, if they really want to do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sign of Change in Music Rights Management in Japan

Monopolization on music rights management by JASRAC  (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) may end. JASRAC is the largest music copyright management society with 98% market share in Japan which manages copyright of more than three (3) million music, even after new entry has been admitted since 2001. However, AVEX Group has got off the drawing board.  AVEX Group has become the top shareholder both of e-License Inc. and JRC (Japan Rights Clearance) Inc. which are under integration, and started procedures to transfer their almost 100,000 music from JASRAC to e-License Inc.  Record companies and music distributors may receive better services under competition principle. 

It seems the Supreme court decision this April regarding JASRAC's copyright management agreement with broadcasting station on suspicion of violating antitrust laws encouraged this movement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The University of Tokyo Opening Office for Advancing Industry-University Cooperation in New York

Japanese universities start trying to gain a toehold in the US market. It is reported that a Japanese national university, the University of Tokyo will open an office for advancing industry-university cooperation in New York in coming November, following the news of Okayama Univ. They will seek opportunities for a joint research or funding. Only a single staff will reside there for the meantime.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Google Fighting Against Japanese Version of "Right to Be Forgotten"

Google has been fighting against "right to be forgotten" or "right to erase" in EU (e.g. the Google Spain case). Now, Google is fighting in Japan.  The oral proceeding was held at Saitama district court on October 16.

In this case, a man who was charged with violation of the child prostitution and pornography law more than 3 years ago seeks deletion of showing related articles at the time which is still shown by keyword search using his name and address, based on personal right (right not to be inhibited reclaim).

Prior to proceeding, Saitama district court ordered temporary injunction to delete the articles from search outcome last June, considering that it is relatively petty crime and does not have historical or social significance.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Japan Initiating Revision of Trademark & Copyright Law to Implement TPP

Responding to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) largely settled, Japanese government initiates revision of  Trademark and Copyright laws.

Of particular note should be change in assessment of the amount of compensation for damage. Under current laws, the amount of compensation is calculated by estimating actual damage. Therefore, a right holder often doesn't receive satisfactory compensation, when it is difficult to prove the amount of damage. Under the amendment bills, where an infringement is established, the right holder will receive a certain of amount compensation and further additional compensation, even when it is difficult to calculate damage.

Also, in the revised copyright law, protection from illegal downloading will be expand to e-books and computer software, in addition to music and movies.

The amendment bills will be submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet as early as next year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Amended Unfair Competition Prevention Act Coming into Force on January 1, 2016

METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) announced on October 9 that Amended Unfair Competition Prevention Act passed in July will come into force on January 1, 2016.

This amendment increases protection of trade secret against misappropriation, as follows.

  • Criminal fine is expanded up to 30M JPY (250,000 USD) for individual and up to 1,000M JPY (8M USD) for company. Also, different criminal fines are set for domestic leakage and leakage outside Japan. 
  • The investigating authority can start the investigation of a case without complaint by victim.
  • Regarding burden of proof, suspect has to prove that he does not misappropriate the trade secret. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Court Ordered Twitter to Disclose Identification of the Poster of Disinformation

Twitter disclosed the IP address of the poster of disinformation under order of Tokyo District Court last month. According to media report, the parents of one-year-old daughter whose portrait had been used on Twitter to spread disinformation asked the court on the ground of infringement on portrait right last August to issue an order to disclose identification of the poster of disinformation that she died during her parents having participated in a demonstration against the security-related bill under discussion.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Japan Ranked 6th in The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016

According to The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 published by World Economic Forum on Sep. 30, Japan is ranked as 6th competitive country among 140 countries, same as last year. The scores of Innovation and sophistication factors are very nice, especially in which the score of local supplier quantity and quality, nature of competitive advantage, etc. are ranked 1st. From a perspective of intellectual property, the number of application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) per million population is also ranked 1st.

On the other hand, the scores of macro economic environment, such as government budget balance (132nd) and debt (140th) as a percentage of GDP are very bad. It seems difficult to improve these scores for the time being, considering policies of current government.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Okayama Univ. Opening Office of Technology Transfer in Silicon Valley

A Japanese national university, Okayama Univ. will open an office of technology transfer in Fremont, CA in coming November. They plans to introduce their intellectual properties to extend collaboration with industries outside Japan, but start small with only two staff members for the meantime. They host a symposium and a networking event for a kickoff at Fairmont San Jose on Nov. 13.

The Press Release by Okayama University

Thursday, October 8, 2015

No More Generic Furniture Allowed!? - TRIPP TRAPP Case

Japan Intellectual Property High Court gave an interesting decision regarding copyrightability of a children's chair (TRIPP TRAPP) on April 14, 2015.

Generally, a design of industrial product such as furniture is protected by design right. The life of design right is 20 years after registration at JPO (Japan Patent Office). After that, such design becomes public domain, and anyone can use it. And the furniture using such public domain designs is so called "Generic Furniture", and are recently popular.

However, the IP High Court accepted copyrightability of the chair in this case, because it shows the designer's originality in the legs of the chair. This gave the industry a big surprise, though the court eventually denied similarity between TRIPP TRAPP and the accused chair.

Your design may be protected under copyright law for 50 years after it is made public, and even more 70 years based on the agreement of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interbrand Best Global Brands & Nikkei Research Brand Ranking

Interbrand released Best Global Brands 2015 on Oct. 5.  Six Japanese companies are ranked among top 100; i.e. Toyota (6), Honda (19), Canon (40), Nissan (49), Sony (58), and Panasonic (65).

On the other hand, Nikkei Research Inc. announced another brand ranking on Sep. 18 which is evaluated based on Perception Quotient (PQ).  In this ranking, Microsoft is No. 1, followed by Panasonic (2), Apple (2), Yamato Transport (4), Sony (5), Google (6), and Toyota (7).

Of course, different criteria produces different rankings...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yamaguchi University Released Their Patents

A Japan national university, Yamaguchi University opened their patents this October.  However, the duration of free use is limited up to 5 years (3 years for large companies). Because the university regards such duration of free use as testing period for potential licensees to decide if they can commercialize the patented technologies.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Posco Paid 30B JPY to Settle Trade Secret Case with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal

This is almost equal settlement package with the dispute between Toshiba and SK Hynix which was settled in December, 2014. Considering such a series of disputes, the Japanese government amended the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in July, 2015 in order to increase protection of trade secret.

The Press Release by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trademark Application Reveals New TV Movie Hero!?

A name of new TV movie hero may have come to light before announcement. Toei Company, Ltd., a Japanese film, television production and distribution corporation, produces a series of special effects hero movies for children. Toei files a trademark application for the title of such a TV movie, because it produces much movie tie-in merchandise. A Japanese trademark application is usually publicly disclosed after about a month of filing date by Japan Patent Office. And now the name of the next hero is whispered by fans watching trademark applications. 

If you don't want your trademark to be disclosed before announcement, you have to delay trademark filing. However, if you do so, you have to take a risk of failing to get trademark registration, since Japanese trademark law adopts the first-to-file principle.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Catchphrase Will Be More Easily Trademarked in Japan

This year, new types of trademarks, i.e. Moving marks, Hologram marks, Color marks, Sound marks, and Position marks,  have become available for registration.  Next year, more catchphrases may become trademarked.

Japan Patent Office (JPO) will amend Trademark Examination Guidelines in April, 2016 to allow catchphrase to be registered in the examination phase.  Currently, as a general rule, catchphrase is not allowed for registration in the examination phase, and some catchphrases are allowed in the appeal board, depending on the situation. In the amendment next year, such catchphrases allowed in the appeal board are broken down into patterns to be registered in the examination phase.

Monday, September 28, 2015

NEC's Technology to Find Fake Products

Good news for genuine product manufactures.  NEC Corp. improved a technology to find fake products, called Object Fingerprint Authentication Technology.  It is realized by capturing surface of leather or fabric of a product on a smart phone and comparing with pre-registered data of the genuine product.  Impressed to know that such surface of product has uniqueness to differentiate a genuine product from a fake one.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tokyo Walker v. Tokkyo Walker !?

Japan Patent Office (JPO) started to publish a public relations magazine to raise awareness of intellectual properties this year, and its Vol. 2 has become available on September 25.  The Vol. 2 features "Development of Region".

The title of the magazine is "Tokkyo Walker".  "Tokkyo" is the pronunciation of the Japanese word meaning "patent".  This title made me think of a famous town magazine "Tokyo Walker" published by KADOKAWA.  Only a single "k" of "Tokkyo" is outline character, and thus the JPO magazine obviously suggests the KADOKAWA's magazine.   Since the courts of Japan are intolerance in parody,  the court is likely to support KADOKAWA in the event of a dispute.

For this case, KADOKAWA is involved in producing and editing the JPO magazines.  So, we don't need to worry much about this.

The "Tokkyo Walker" is available on the JPO website.