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The Japan Patent Office administers all applications for trademarks, designs and patents. The trademark system, established under the Trademark Act, provides for the protection of the marks and logos used in commercially traded goods and services. The protection of designs – including the shape, pattern, colour and other characteristics – is regulated by the Design Act, and the Patent Act covers patents.
Trademarks are registered under the first-to-file rule. They do not have to be currently in use (either in Japan or overseas) in order to be registered in Japan; if the trademark owner has the intention of using the trademark in the future, it can be registered in Japan as long as certain criteria are met.
Once registered, a trademark is protected for 10 years from the registration date. Protection can be renewed for further 10-year periods. However, trademarks must be used within three years after registration, or they may be nullified. Using a trademark just once within those three years will prevent trademark rights from being cancelled.
Trademark application fees vary according to whether the application is for a single class or multiple classes. One trademark in one class costs: JPY 12,000 (AUD 126).. One trademark in multiple classes costs JPY 12,000 (AUD 126) for the first class, and an extra JPY 8600 (AUD 90) for each additional class.
Registration fees are JPY 37,600 (AUD 395) per trademark per class regardless of the type of application. Renewal costs JPY 48,500 (AUD 510) per class.
Design rights protection begins once a design is registered and continues for 20 years. A fixed sum must be paid each year to maintain protection. If the form of the registered object becomes famous, it is possible to receive continued protection under the Unfair Competition Prevention Law even after design rights lapse.
The Design Law provides some protections that are unique to Japan. Designs can be registered as ‘similar designs’ such as a set of objects, a partial design, a design for movable elements and screen designs. Secret registration, where the gazetting of a design is delayed, is also allowed.
Both application and registration fees apply to protecting design rights. The application fee is JPY 16,000 (AUD 170) per design, while the registration fee for the first year is JPY 8500 (AUD 90). In addition, to maintain design protection, an annual fee of JPY 8500 (AUD 90) must be paid in years 1 to 3, and JPY 16,900 (AUD 177) in years 4 to 20.
Applications for patents cost JPY 15,000 (AUD 158). To succeed, a patent must be novel, inventive and industrially applicable. Patents are granted for 20 years and attract annual fees. Like trademarks, patents are made under the first-to-file rule.
Plant varieties, copyright and trade secrets are protected as non-registrable rights in Japan.
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Asialink Business last updated this information on November 2015.
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