Sunday, April 17, 2016

Franck Muller Loses Trademark Case Against Parody Watch “フランク三浦 [Franck Miura]”


On April 12, Japan IP High Court handed down a lenient judgment for a parody watch manufacturer on a trademark case. Franck Muller alleged that the parody watch manufacturer’s registered trademark “フランク三浦 [Franck Miura]” which sounds similar to “Franck Muller” should be invalidated. However, the court decided that there is no likelihood confusion in the marketplace, because “フランク三浦 [Franck Miura]” is significantly different in appearance and meaning, and the parody watches are cheap. A provision for preventing “free riding” (Article 4, paragraph (1), item (19) of the Trademark Act) requires similarity between two of the marks.

A parody is a work created based on an original work, and thus uses the value of the original work. However, Trademark Act is not designed to prevent such a parody itself. You must prove the similarity.

For comparison, the Copyright Act is not so lenient to a parody work. 

[Updated]
The Supreme Court turned down the appeal from Franck Muller on March 2, 2017.

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