Trademark Act(Act No.127 of April 13, 1959)

Article 1 (Purpose)

The purpose of this Act is, through the protection of trademarks, to ensure the maintenance of business confidence of persons who use trademarks and thereby to contribute to the development of the industry and to protect the interests of consumers.

Article 2(Definitions, etc.)

(1) "Trademark" in this Act means any character(s), figure(s), sign(s) or three-dimensional shape(s), or any combination thereof, or any combination thereof with colors(hereinafter referred to as a "mark")which is:

  • (i) used in connection with the goods of a person who produces, certifies or assigns the goods as a business; or
  • (ii) used in connection with the services of a person who provides or certifies the services as a business(except those provided for in the preceding item).

(2) "Services" set forth in item (ii) of the preceding paragraph shall include retail services and wholesale services, namely, the provision of benefits for customers onducted in the course of retail and wholesale business.

(3) "Use" with respect to a mark as used in this Act means any of the following acts:

  • (i) to affix a mark to goods or packages of goods;
  • (ii) to assign, deliver, display for the purpose of assignment or delivery, export, import or provide through an electric telecommunication line, goods or packages of goods to which a mark is affixed;
  • (iii) in the course of the provision of services, to affix a mark to articles to be used by a person who receives the said services (including articles to be assigned or loaned; the same shall apply hereinafter);
  • (iv) in the course of the provision of services, to provide the said services by using articles to which a mark is affixed and which are to be used by a person who receives the said services;
  • (v) for the purpose of providing services, to display articles to be used for the provision of the services (including articles to be used by a person who receives the services in the course of the provision of services; the same shall apply hereinafter) to which a mark is affixed;
  • (vi) in the course of the provision of services, to affix a mark to articles pertaining to the provision of the said services belonging to a person who receives the services;
  • (vii) in the course of the provision of services through an image viewer, by using an electromagnetic device (an electromagnetic device shall refer to any electronic, magnetic or other method that is not recognizable by human perception; the same shall apply in the following item), to provide the said services by displaying a mark on the image viewer; or
  • (viii) to display or distribute advertisement materials, price lists or transaction documents relating to goods or services to which a mark is affixed, or to provide information on such content, to which a mark is affixed by an electromagnetic device.

(4) To affix a mark to goods or other articles provided for in the preceding paragraph shall include to form in the shape of the mark goods, packages of goods, articles to be used for the provision of services, or advertisement materials relatingto goods or services.

(5) "Registered trademark" in this Act means a trademark that has been registered as a trademark.

(6) In this Act, the scope of those similar to goods may include services, and the scope of those similar to services may include goods.


Article 3(Requirements for trademark registration)

(1) Any trademark to be used in connection with goods or services pertaining to the business of an applicant may be registered, unless the trademark:

  • (i) consists solely of a mark indicating, in a common manner, the common name of the goods or services;
  • (ii) is customarily used in connection with the goods or services;
  • (iii) consists solely of a mark indicating, in a common manner, in the case of goods, the place of origin, place of sale, quality, raw materials, efficacy, intended purpose, quantity, shape(including shape of packages), price, the method or time of production or use, or, in the case of services, the location of provision, quality, articles to be used in such provision, efficacy, intended purpose, quantity, modes, price or method or time of provision;
  • (iv) consists solely of a mark indicating, in a common manner, a common surname or name of a juridical person;
  • (v) consists solely of a very simple and common mark; or
  • (vi) is in addition to those listed in each of the preceding items, a trademark by which consumers are not able to recognize the goods or services as those pertaining to a business of a particular person.

(2) Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, a trademark that falls under any of items (iii) to (v) of the preceding paragraph may be registered if, as a result of the use of the trademark, consumers are able to recognize the goods or services as those pertaining to a business of a particular person.

Article 4(Unregistrable trademarks)

(1) Notwithstanding the preceding Article, no trademark shall be registered if the trademark:

  • (i) is identical with, or similar to, the national flag, the imperial chrysanthemum crest, a decoration, a medal or a foreign national flag;
  • (ii) is identical with, or similar to, the coats of arms or any other State emblems (except national flags of any country of the Union to the Paris Convention, member of the World Trade Organization or Contracting Party to the Trademark Law Treaty)of a country of the Union to the Paris Convention(refers to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of March 20, 1883, as revised at Brussels on December 14, 1900, at Washington on June 2, 1911, at the Hague on November 6, 1925, at London on June 2, 1934, at Lisbon on October 31, 1958 and at Stockholm on July 14, 1967; the same shall apply hereinafter), a member of the World Trade Organization or a Contracting Party to the Trademark Law Treaty designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry;
  • (iii) is identical with, or similar to, a mark indicating the United Nations or anyother international organization which has been designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry;
  • (iv) is identical with, or similar to, the emblems or titles in Article 1 of the Act Concerning Restriction on the Use of Emblems and Titles of the Red Cross and Others(Act No.159 of 1947)or the distinctive emblem in Article 158(1) of the Act Concerning Measures to Protect Japanese Citizens During Armed Attacks and Others(Act No.112 of 2004);
  • (v) is comprised of a mark identical with, or similar to, an official hallmark or sign indicating control or warranty by the national or a local government of Japan, a country of the Union to the Paris Convention, a member of the World Trade Organization or a Contracting Party to the Trademark Law Treaty which has been designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, if such a trademark is used in connection with goods or services identical with, or similar to, the goods or services in connection with which the hallmark or sign is used;
  • (vi) is identical with, or similar to, a famous mark indicating the State, a local government, an agency thereof, a non-profit organization undertaking a business for public interest, or a non-profit enterprise undertaking a business for public interest;
  • (vii) is likely to cause damage to public policy;
  • (viii) contains the portrait of another person, or the name, famous pseudonym, professional name or pen name of another person, or famous abbreviation thereof (except those the registration of which has been approved by the person concerned);
  • (ix) is comprised of a mark identical with, or similar to, a prize awarded at an exhibition held by the national or a local government (hereinafter referred to as the "Government, etc.") or by those who are not the Government, etc. but designated by the Commissioner of the Patent Office, or at an international exhibition held in a foreign country by the Government, etc. of the foreign country or those authorized thereby (except those used by the recipient of such a prize as part of his/her own trademark);
  • (x) is identical with, or similar to, another person's trademark which is well known among consumers as that indicating goods or services in connection with the person's business, if such a trademark is used in connection with such goods or services or goods or services similar thereto;
  • (xi) is identical with, or similar to, another person's registered trademark which has been filed prior to the filing date of an application for registration of the said trademark, if such a trademark is used in connection with the designated goods or designated services relating to the said registered trademark (referring to goods or services designated in accordance with Article 6(1) (including cases where it is applied mutatis mutandis pursuant to Article 68(1)); the same shall apply hereinafter), or goods or services similar thereto;
  • (xii) is identical with a registered defensive mark of another person (referring to a mark registered as a defensive mark; the same shall apply hereinafter), if such a trademark is used in connection with designated goods or designated services relating to the defensive mark;
  • (xiii) is a trademark of another person (excluding those which had not been used by the said person for a period of one year or longer from the date the trademark right became extinguished) the right to which has been extinguished for a period of shorter than one year from the date of the extinguishment of the said trademark right (or the date on which a ruling to the effect that the trademark registration is to be rescinded or a trial decision to the effect that the trademark registration is to be invalidated is rendered; the same shall apply hereinafter) or a trademark similar thereto, if such a trademark is used in connection with the designated goods or designated services in connection with the trademark right of such other person or goods or services similar thereto;
  • (xiv) is identical with, or similar to, the name of a variety registered in accordance with Article 18(1) of the Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act (Act No. 83 of 1998), if such a trademark is used in connection with seeds and seedlings of the variety or goods or services similar thereto;
  • (xv) is likely to cause confusion in connection with the goods or services pertaining to a business of another person(except those listed in items(x) to (xiv)inclusive);
  • (xvi) is likely to mislead as to the quality of the goods or services;
  • (xvii) is comprised of a mark indicating a place of origin of wines or spirits of Japan which has been designated by the Commissioner of the Patent Office, or a mark indicating a place of origin of wines or spirits of a member of the World Trade Organization which is prohibited by the said member from being used on wines or spirits not originating from the region of the said member, if such a trademark is used in connection with wines or spirits not originating from the region in Japan or of the said member;
  • (xviii) consists solely of a three-dimensional shape of goods or their packaging which is indispensable for such goods or their packaging to properly function;or
  • (xix) is identical with, or similar to, a trademark which is well known among consumers in Japan or abroad as that indicating goods or services pertaining to a business of another person, if such trademark is used for unfair purposes (referring to the purpose of gaining unfair profits, the purpose of causing damage to the other person, or any other unfair purposes, the same shall apply hereinafter) (except those provided for in each of the preceding items);

(2) Where the State or a local government, an agency thereof, a non-profit organization undertaking a business for public interest, or a person undertaking a non-profit activity for public interest files an application for trademark registration falling under item (vi) of the preceding paragraph, the provision of the said item shall not apply.

(3) Items (viii), (x), (xv), (xvii) and (xix) of paragraph (1) shall not apply to a trademark falling under any of the said items which does not fall under the said item at the time of filing of an application for trademark registration.

(4) Where a trial decision to the effect that a registration of a trademark is to be rescinded pursuant to Article 53-2 becomes final and binding, and the demandant of the said trial files a trademark application for the trademark pertaining to the rescinded registration following the said decision, or a trademark similar thereto, item (xiii) of paragraph (1) shall not apply.