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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Sep 16, 2014 (Newsletter Issue 14/14)
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Non-Traditional Trademarks Soon Registrable

The latest amendment of the Trademark Act in Japan (“Amendment”) was announced on 14 May 2014. There are two important changes in the Amendment. First the amendments would allow new trademarks to be composed of sounds, colours, holograms, motions, or positions ("New Trademarks"). Second, there are three new groups, including non-profit organizations (NPO) that can hold regional collective marks (as reported in our Newsletter Issue 13/14). The Amendment with regards to the New Trademarks will likely enter into force on 1 April 2015.

Under the present law in Japan, registrations of trademarks are limited to characters, figures, signs and three-dimensional shapes, any combination thereof, or any combination thereof with colours. The New Trademarks introduced by the Amendment are sound marks, colour per se marks, hologram marks, motion marks, and position marks. Additionally, although touch marks, texture marks, taste marks, olfactory marks or combinations of New Trademarks (i.e. multimedia marks) have not been added so far, the new law delegates the power to add such marks to the Japanese administrative authority, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industries (“METI”). Therefore, no further amendments to the Trademark Act would be required to add these additional types of new trademarks.

The New Trademarks could be registered in Japan through the Madrid System as well.

Source: Hogan Lovells, Tokyo, Japan