Intellectual Property, Nishimura & Asahi updates


Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
Court dismisses Starbucks's trademark invalidation request despite survey results
  • Japan
  • 10 May 2021

The IP High Court recently confirmed the Japan Patent Office (JPO) Trial and Appeal Board's decision to dismiss Starbucks Corporation's request to invalidate a trademark which had a similar composition to that of its own. To prove that the composition of its trademark was well known and characteristic, Starbucks conducted a survey through a research company using an image that had undergone mosaic processing. However, the JPO and the IP High Court found that the survey was inappropriate.

Reformed Design Act expands protection for graphic images
  • Japan
  • 22 March 2021

The reformed Design Act came into force in 2020. This act expands the scope of protection for graphic images, meaning that they need not be recorded or displayed on articles (eg, computers or smartphones) to be considered protectable designs. According to statistics from the Japan Patent Office, 685 such applications had been filed as of January 2021.

Revisions to Copyright Act to tackle online pirating
  • Japan
  • 23 November 2020

In the past decade, the Japanese manga and entertainment industries have been severely damaged by pirate sites which typically operate on servers located in jurisdictions lacking sufficient copyright protection. To address these issues, the 2020 revisions to the Copyright Act introduced new measures to crack down on leech websites and expand the scope of illegal downloading.

IP-related support declaration for measures against COVID-19
  • Japan
  • 15 June 2020

The development, production and provision of therapeutic medications, vaccines, medical devices and infection control products are necessary to diagnose, prevent, contain and treat COVID-19. Patent owners and other IP rights holders must therefore cooperate with each other and support new ideas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without hindering development in the IP sector. To this end, an IP-related solution was recently announced in Japan – namely, the Open COVID-19 Declaration.

Effects of Civil Code amendment on IP licence agreements
  • Japan
  • 20 April 2020

As the Civil Code is the basic private law in Japan, the amended version will have a significant impact on the legal aspects of people's lives and their business relationships. Moreover, many of its provisions will affect IP licence agreements. This article addresses these provisions in greater detail, including in relation to non-conformity in contract subject matter, contract cancellation and pre-formulated terms and conditions.

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