ZARA Unsuccessful Opposition against TM “LAZARA”

On April 22, 2024, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Industria de Diseño Textil, SA (INDITEX), owner of the fashion brand “ZARA”, against TM Reg no. 6699667 for word mark “LAZARA” in classes 25 due to dissimilar marks and unlikelihood of confusion with “ZARA”.
[Opposition case no. 2023-900175]


Opposed mark

Opposed mark, consisting of a wordmark “LAZARA” in standard character, was applied for registration by Japanese individual to be used on clothing in class 25 on November 20, 2022, and published for post-grant opposition on May 29, 2023.


Opposition by Inditex

Opponent, INDITEX, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers and owner of the fashion brand “ZARA”, filed an opposition on July 27, 2023 before the lapse of a two-month statutory period and claimed opposed mark “LAZARA” shall be cancelled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations (TM Reg no. 4108998 and IR no. 752502 in class25) for word mark “ZARA”.

Article 4(1)(xi) is a provision that prohibits the registration of a junior mark that is deemed identical with, or similar to, any earlier registered mark.

INDITEX contended that the opposed mark “LAZARA” is similar to its own trademark “ZARA,” a globally renowned fast-fashion brand given the suffix “LA” is a descriptive word that merely indicates the definite article in Spanish. Besides, the goods in question are identical.

Article 4(1)(xv) prohibits the registration of trademarks that are likely to cause confusion with the business of other entities.

INDITEX contended that the mark “ZARA” has become renowned among relevant consumers in connection with apparel. Given the high degree of resemblance between “LAZARA” and “ZARA” as well as the goods, it is likely that consumers will confuse or misconceive the goods bearing the opposed mark “LAZARA” with “ZARA.”

Article 4(1)(xix) proscribes the registration of a trademark that is identical with or similar to another entity’s famous mark if the trademark is intended for the purpose of gaining unfair profits or causing damage to the entity.

INDITEX contended that the applicant had filed the opposed mark with the intention of obtaining unfair profits through free-riding on the well-known trademark “ZARA”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board held that “ZARA” has acquired a certain degree of recognition among relevant consumers in Japan and foreign countries as a source indication of clothing, however, the Board denied a high degree of recognition of the mark among the consumers by taking into consideration the produced evidence. The Board criticized “INDITEX produced precedent administrative decisions as evidence that admitted famousness of the mark “ZARA” in Japan. But, famousness of trademark shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on relevant facts and evidence produced in each case. Therefore, the precedent decisions would not bind the ongoing case. INDITEX did not reveal sales figure and expenditure for advertisement in connection with apparel bearing the mark ZARA.

Furthermore, the Board found the consumers would perceive the opposed mark “LAZARA” as a whole, which would suggest an unfamiliar foreign word from a visual perspective. If so, “LAZARA” and “ZARA” are evidently dissimilar in appearance and pronunciation because of the distinction between the presence and absence of the letter “LA” in the suffix and the overall sound. As for the concept, it is not comparable since either mark does not give rise to any specific meaning. Consequently, both marks are unlikely to cause confusion due to their dissimilarity.

Additionally, the Board noted that INDITEX had not presented any evidence to substantiate their assertion that the applicant had filed the opposed mark for the purpose of gaining unfair profits or causing harm to INDITEX.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations of INDITEX and allowed “LAZARA” to survive.

CHANEL Lost in Trademark opposition against “COCOBABY”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) did not side with CHANEL in an opposition against TM Reg no. 6650252 for wordmark “COCOBABY” in class 25 by finding dissimilarity of mark between “COCOBABY” and “COCO”.
[Opposition case no. 2023-900041, decided on February 9, 2024]


COCOBABY

On September 22, 2022, a Japanese individual applied to register the word mark ‘COCOBABY’ for use in relation to apparel and toddler clothes of class 25 and immediately after the filing, the applicant requested an accelerated examination based on the fact that he operates the online shop “COCOBABY”, which offers a wide range of clothes for toddlers and babies.

A screen capture from https://www.rakuten.co.jp/princessdream/

Accordingly, the JPO examiner granted protection on November 30, 2022 without raising her objection due to a conflict with Chanel’s COCO mark.


Opposition by CHANEL

On February 14, 2023, Chanel SARL filed an opposition against TM Reg no. 6650252 for the mark “COCOBABY”, and claimed cancellation of the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations for their historical mark “COCO”.

Chanel argued that the term “BABY” was descriptive in relation to the designated goods, namely children’s clothing in class 25. In addition, the mark “COCO” has become famous as an indication of origin for Chanel’s perfumes and cosmetics. In those circumstances, the relevant consumers would consider the term “COCO” to be a prominent part of the opposed mark and would be likely to confuse the source of the clothes bearing the opposed mark with Chanel and an entity economically or systematically liked to Chanel.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board accepted that the mark “COCO” has been well known for Chanel’s perfume. However, the Board questioned whether, on the basis of the evidence submitted, the mark has become also well known among consumers of other goods.

In addition, the Board found that the opposed mark had to be assessed as a whole, even in relation to children’s clothing, from a visual point of view. The mark “COCOBABY”, taken as a whole, does not have a specific meaning.

If so, the opposed mark is not conceptually comparable to the mark “COCO”, but is visually and aurally distinguishable from it.

In view of the low degree of similarity between the marks and the insufficient evidence of the reputation of the mark “COCO” among consumers of the goods in question, the Board has no reason to believe that the consumers are unlikely to confuse the source of the clothing and children’s clothing bearing the opposed mark with Chanel.

Based on the foregoing, the Board dismissed the opposition entirely and decided to maintain the opposed mark as the status quo.

New Balance Unsuccessful Opposition against “nyan balance” mark

On December 22, 2023, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by New Balance Athletics, Inc. against TM Reg no. 6669617 for the “nyan balance” mark with a landing cat device due to dissimilarity to and unlikelihood of confusion with “NEW BALANCE”.
[Opposition case no. 2023-900073]


“nyan balance”

A Japanese individual applied a composite mark consisting of the word “nyan balance” and a landing cat device (see below) for use on apparel, headgear, footwear, sports shoes, and sportswear in class 25 with the JPO on May 26, 2022 (TM App no. 2022-65756).

“Nyan” is known as the sound cats make in Japan. Because of it, “nyan balance” reminds us of a combination of cat sounds and “balance”.

The JPO examiner allowed registration of the opposed mark on February 7, 2023 without raising any objection, and published it for post-grant opposition on February 15, 2023.


Opposition by NEW BALANCE

To oppose registration within a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, New Balance Athletics, Inc. filed an opposition against the “nyan balance” mark on March 31, 2023.

NEW BALANCE argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law because of the remarkable reputation and popularity of the NEW BALANCE brand in relation to apparels and shoes, and a close resemblance between the literal portion “nyan balance” of opposed mark and famous brand “NEW BALANCE” to the extent that relevant consumers are likely to confuse a source of the goods in question bearing the opposed mark with “New Balance”.

In the opposition, NEW BALANCE pointed out a fact that the applicant once sought registration of a mark containing famous “NB” logo (see below. TM App 2022-65755) with the JPO. Since he did not make a response to the examiner’s rejection that asserted a likelihood of confusion with NEW BALANCE and a malicious intent to obtain unjustifiable benefits by using the similar mark to famous “NB” logo, the opponent alleged the applicant must have had a bad faith in filing the opposed mark.


JPO decision

Astonishingly, the JPO Opposition Board did not admit a high degree of popularity and reputation of “NEW BALANCE” brand as a source indicator of the opponent by finding that the opponent did not submit detail and sufficient evidence, such as sales record, advertisement and sales promotion, to demonstrate famousness of the cited mark objectively.

Besides, the Board negated the similarity between the marks by stating that:

From the appearance, the difference in the prefix of literal elements, “nyan” and “NEW” would suffice for relevant consumers to distinguish them. Therefore, even though the term “nyan balance” is considered as a prominent portion of the opposed mark, both marks are sufficiently distinguishable in appearance.

Phonetically, “nyan balance” is easily distinguishable from “NEW BALANCE” because of the difference in the first sound given both marks just consist of six sounds respectively.

Conceptually, since both marks do not give rise to any specific meaning, it is not possible or adequate to find similarity in concept.

By virtue of a low degree of similarity, the Board found relevant consumers are unlikely to confuse or associate the source of the goods bearing the opposed mark with “NEW BALANCE” and any entity systematically or economically connected with the opponent.

Provided that the opponent failed to demonstrate famousness of “NEW BALANCE” brand, the Board has no reason to believe the applicant filed the opposed mark with a malicious intent to free-ride on the opponent’s reputation and goodwill.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations and decided the opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.

CHANEL defeated in Trademark Opposition against “COCOCHI”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) handed a loss to Chanel SARL in trademark opposition against TM Reg no. 6674710 for the “COCOCHI” mark by finding unlikelihood of confusion with “COCO”.

[Opposition case no. 2023-900100 decided on December 7, 2023]

COCOCHI

The opposed mark, consisting of a term “COCOCHI” and the COCO monogram (see below), was filed by COCOCHI COSME CN LIMITED, a UK company, with the JPO for use on cosmetics, perfumery, fragrances, incense, dentifrices, adhesives for affixing false eyelashes and other goods in Class 3 on June 16, 2022.

The JPO admitted registration of the opposed mark on February 24, 2023 and published it for a post-grant opposition on March 6, 2023.


Opposition by CHANEL

On May 8, 2023, CHANEL SARL filed an opposition and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Trademark Law on the grounds that:

  1. Since 1995, the opponent has owned senior trademark registration no. 2704127 for wordmark “COCO” over cosmetics, perfumery, and fragrances, which has unquestionably acquired a remarkable degree of reputation and popularity as a source indicator of the opponent’s cosmetics as well as a nickname or short name of French fashion designer “Gabrielle COCO CHANEL”, the founder of the Chanel brand.
  2. Due to a remarkable reputation of the mark “COCO”, relevant consumers are likely to associate the literal portion “COCO” and the monogram of the opposed mark with Chanel when used on goods in question.
  3. In view of the close resemblance between two marks and goods, presumably, the applicant must have applied the opposed mark for use on cosmetics with prior knowledge of the cited mark and fraudulent intention of free-riding on its reputation.

JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted a high degree of reputation and popularity of “COCO” as a source indicator of the opponent’s perfumery and fragrances among relevant consumers based on substantial use of the cited mark in Japan but questioned its famousness in relation to other cosmetics except for perfumery and fragrances.

The JPO denied the similarity between the opposed mark and “COCO”, stating that the opposed mark shall be taken as a whole in view of a tight combination of its literal element from appearance. If so, the opposed mark does not give rise to any specific meaning and the Board has no reasonable ground to believe that the opposed mark “COCOCHI” shall be similar to “COCO” from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view.

Given a low degree of similarity between the marks, the Board held the opposed mark is unlikely to cause confusion even when used on perfumery and fragrances.

Assuming that both marks are dissimilar, the Board was not convinced that the applicant aimed for free-riding on the goodwill of Chanel.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations of CHANEL SARL and allowed the opposed mark to remain valid as the status quo.

Failed Trademark Opposition over VW TYPE-2

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) did not side with Volkswagen AG in an opposition against TM Reg no. 6365340 for device mark containing a depiction of a van-type red car by finding unlikelihood of confusion with Volkswagen Type-2.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900210, decided on September 14, 2023]

Opposed mark

Sur Andino SA, a Chilean wine grower and producer, filed a trademark application for device mark containing a depiction of a van-type red car (see below) to be used on wines in class 33 with the JPO on February 5, 2020.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed mark on March 9, 2021 and published is for a post-grant opposition on April 6, 2021.


Opposition by Volkswagen

On June 7, 2021, just before the lapse of a two-month statutory period counting from the publication date, Volkswagen AG filed an opposition and claimed the opposed mark shall be cancelled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

Volkswagen argued a van-type red car depicted in the opposed mark resembles the VW Type 2 vehicles, aka Transporter, Bulli, Kombi, VW Bus that have been distributed worldwide for past six decades and a unique shape of the vehicles has played a significant role in identifying the origin of car. Because of it, the applicant must have had a bad faith to free-ride or dilute fame and prestige of the VW Type 2. Relevant consumers are likely to confuse a source of wines bearing the opposed mark with VW.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board questioned whether the shape of the VW Type 2 per se has played a role in indicating the source from the produced evidence.

Given there is insufficient evidence to connect a van-type red car in the opposed mark with the VW Type 2, the Board found no reason to believe the applicant had a bad faith to free-ride or dilute prestige of the VW Type 2 by using the opposed mark on wines. If so, it is unlikely that relevant consumers confuse a source of wines bearing the opposed mark with Volkswagen.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided the opposed mark shall not be canceled based on Article 4(1)(vii), (xv) and (xix), and thus dismissed entire allegations by Volkswagen.

Shangri-La Unsuccessful in Trademark Opposition Over “Shangri-La Golf”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Shangri-La Hotels against TM Reg no. 6610570 for the mark “Shangri-La-Golf” in class 35 due to dissimilarity between “Shangri-La” and “Shangri-La-Golf”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900465, decided on July 26, 2023]

Opposed mark

A Japanese individual filed a stylized word mark “Shangri-La-Golf” (see below) for use on retail and wholesale services in relation to woven fabrics, beddings, clothing, footwear, and personal articles in class 35 with the JPO on June 22, 2020.

The JPO examiner rejected the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier trademark registrations for wordmark “SHANGRI-LA”.

However, as a result of the JPO Appeal Board’s decision that found dissimilar to “SHANGRI-LA”, the mark could be registered on September 6, 2022.


Opposition by Shangri-La Hotels

Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd filed an opposition against the opposed mark on November 11, 2022 and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (viii), (x), (xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law due to a remarkable degree of recognition of the cited mark “Shangri-La” and close resemblance between the opposed mark and “Shangri-La”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board questioned a remarkable degree of recognition of the cited mark among relevant public in Japan by stating that the produced evidence is insufficient to find such recognition objectively.

As for appearance, sound and meaning of the opposed mark, the Board found

“The opposed mark consists of “Shangri”, “La”, and “Golf” written in the same font and size, and tightly united by a hyphen (-). Visually, there is no reason to find respective element perse independently plays a role in source indicator of the opposed mark. Besides, the sound arising from the opposed mark as a whole can be pronounced easily.

Even if the term “Golf” has the meaning of a kind of ball game, it is reasonable to find that the term would not be recognized as directly indicating a descriptive meaning or specific quality of the services in question. Relevant consumers would see the opposed mark as a whole.

Therefore, the opposed mark shall be assessed in its entirety and give rise to a pronunciation of “Shangri-La-Golf” and no specific meaning.”

Based on the above finding, the Board decided the opposed mark “Shangri-La-Golf” is dissimilar to the cited mark “Shanri-La” because there is visual and phonetical distinction between the marks by virtue of the term “Golf” and the opposed mark does not give rise to a meaning related to ‘a remote usually idyllic hideaway’.

Accordingly, the Board found the opposition baseless and decided the opposed mark remains as the status quo.

HERMES Victory in trademark dispute against HAIRMES

On July 26, 2023, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with Hermes International in an invalidation trial against TM Reg no. 6275593 for the wordmark “HAIRMES” by finding the owner’s unjustified intention to free-ride and dilute the famous fashion brand “HERMES” and cause confusion.

[Invalidation case no. 2022-890082]

Disputed mark

Dog Diggin Designs, LLC applied a wordmark “HAIRMES” in standard character for use on beds for household pets; pillows for pets; pet cushions in class 20, and toys for pets in class 28 with the JPO on October 16, 2019. Apparently, the company promotes parody dog toys & dog beds, and other pet supplies.

https://www.dogdiggindesigns.com/

Hermes International filed a post-grant opposition against the disputed mark with the JPO on October 15, 2020, and argued the disputed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(x), (xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Trademark Law because of the remarkable reputation and popularity of the HERMES brand in the fashion industry and a high degree of similarity between “HAIRMES” and “HERMES” likely to cause confusion among relevant consumers in Japan.

The JPO Opposition Board decided to dismiss the opposition by finding unlikelihood of confusion due to a low degree of similarity between the marks. Click here.


Invalidation action by Hermes

Hermes International filed an invalidation action with the JPO based on the same grounds on October 18, 2022, and repeatedly argued the owner must have had an intention to imitate and free-ride on reputation and goodwill of the famous fashion brand “HERMES” by making use of similar trade dress with Hermes packaging color and design in addition to similar HAIRMES mark.


JPO decision

The JPO Invalidation Board admitted that “HERMES” has been widely recognized as a luxury fashion brand and source indicator of Hermes International.

In the assessment of similarity of mark, the Board found both marks are dissimilar in sound and concept. However, these marks give a similar visual impression by sharing the first letter “H” and the four letter “RMES” in the latter half of respective word, which catches the attention of consumers. If so, the Board has a reason to believe there is a certain degree of similarity between the marks.

The Board paid attention to a fact that the owner promotes pet beds and pet toys bearing similar color and decoration to the iconic Hermes packaging. Based on the circumstances, the Board had a view that presumably the owner, knowing that the HERMES mark has been widely recognized among consumers in Japan, must have had an intention to free-ride or dilute reputation on HERMES.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found relevant consumers are likely to confuse the source of pet beds and toys bearing the disputed mark with Hermes International in view of close association with fashion items as well, and decided to invalidate the disputed mark entirely.

FURLA vs FURNA

Italian heritage label Furla lost a trademark opposition in Japan against TM Reg no. 6501195 for the wordmark “FURNA” in class 25 as a result of the JPO’s decision finding no likelihood of confusion with “FURLA”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900128, decided on April 6, 2023]

FURNA

The opposed mark, consisting of the wordmark “FURNA” in standard character, was filed for use on clothing, dresses, footwear, garters, waistbands, belts [clothing] and other goods in class 25 with the JPO by URBAN TEX Co., Ltd., a Japanese company on November 1, 2021.

The company opens an online shop for wedding dresses under the trade name “FURNA” on Rakuten online shopping platform.

In accordance with a request for accelerated examination from the company based on the actual use of the mark on any one of the designated goods, the JPO carried out a substantive examination and granted protection on January 14, 2022. Subsequently, the mark was published for post-grant opposition on January 27, 2022.


Opposition by FURLA

Italian luxury retailer FURLA S.P.A. filed an opposition on May 28, 2022, and claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

FURLA argued a mere difference of “N” and “L” in the fourth letter of the respective word would be trivial and thus inadequate to find a low degree of similarity in appearance and sound. Given a close association between the goods in question and the opponent goods covered by earlier registrations for the FURLA marks that have acquired a high level of recognition among relevant consumers in Japan, the consumers are likely to confuse a source of the goods bearing the opposed mark with Furla or mistakenly consider it from an entity systematically or economically connected with FURLA S.P.A.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted a high level of recognition of the mark “FURLA” in connection with bags among relevant consumers as a source indicator of the opponent.

In the meantime, the Board questioned if both marks are deemed similar in visual, aural, and conceptual points of view by stating:

Comparing the opposed mark and the opponent mark, “FURNA” and “FURLA” differ in appearance in the fourth letter of “N” and “L” but the difference in these letters in the short five-character composition has a substantial effect on the overall composition, and they are sufficiently distinguishable in appearance.

Pronunciation arising from “FURNA” and “FURLA” are different even when they are called in succession, and there is no risk of mishearing each other.

The opposed mark is conceptually distinguishable because it does not give rise to any specific meaning, whereas the opponent mark has been known as “Furla’s brand”.

Even if the “FURLA” mark is widely recognized among Japanese consumers as an indication of the opponent’s business, given the low degree of similarity between “FURNA” and “FURLA”, the Board has no reason to believe that the consumers having a glimpse of the opposed mark used on the goods in question would associate or recall the opponent mark.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the opposition entirely and decided that the opposed mark “FURNA” shall remain valid as the status quo.

Letter of Protest protects PUMA from Free-rider

The JPO examiner raised her objection on the ground that TM App no. 2022-76159 for the stylized mark “SHIBA” was confusingly similar to the world-famous mark “PUMA” and filed with a malicious intent to harm PUMA as well as public interest.


Opposition vs Letter of Protest

Whenever a brand owner discovers a trademark application by a third party that may cause confusion or detrimental effect on your business, the owner is eager to block its registration by any means.

Opposition is one of the actions universally taken in such cases, however, it should be noted the success rate of opposition has been remarkably low (11% on average in the past six years) in Japan. Besides, the Japan Trademark Law does provide only “post-grant opposition” and the JPO has full discretion in deciding whether to cancel the opposed mark. Assumably, these factors affect the rate getting lower.

In this respect, a “letter of protest” is probably a better option instead.

Any person can use the letter of protest to give the JPO evidence about the registrability of a trademark in a pending application. There is no public data to show how effective the letter works to block the protested trademark, however, in my experience, as a Japanese trademark practitioner for twenty years, more than half of the letters resulted in a rejection of the protested trademark.


Protest to “SHIBA” mark

MARKS IP LAW FIRM, acting on behalf of PUMA SE, sent a letter of protest against TM App no. 2022-76159 for the stylized mark “SHIBA” (see below) in class 25 on November 25, 2022.

In the letter, we argued the protested mark is likely to cause confusion with PUMA SE because of its resemblance to the world-famous sports brand “PUMA”.

On February 17, 2023, the JPO examiner issued an office action refusing registration of the SHIBA mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xi), (xv), (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law by stating that:

The protested mark gives rise to a pronunciation of “Shiba” and the concept of “Shina Inu; a breed of small thick-coated agile dogs developed in Japan”.

Even though there is a difference in meaning and sound, by virtue of the remarkable degree of reputation and popularity of the PUMA mark and the impressive resemblance of both marks in appearance, the examiner has a reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of the designated goods of class 25, namely clothing, belts, footwear, sportswear, sports shoes, and headgear, bearing the SHIBA mark with PUMA.

Besides, there is reasonable doubt that the applicant must have been aware of PUMA and applied for the protested mark with malicious intent to harm not only PUMA but also the public interest.

Unless the applicant is successful in persuading the examiner of the dissimilarity of the mark, the unlikelihood of confusion with PUMA, and the non-existence of malicious intent, it will be rejected as a matter of course.


It is my advice to take advantage of the letter of protest, rather than opposition if you want to protect your brand against free-rider in Japan.

BOND GIRL Score Win in Trademark Dispute

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) declared invalidation of TM Reg no. 6267785 for “BOND GIRL” with a “BG” device mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law.

[Invalidation case no. 2022-890013, decided on November 18, 2022]

Disputed mark

A disputed mark, consisting of the stylized word “BOND GIRL” and “BG” logo (see below), was filed with JPO for use on scissors, swords, hand tools, spoons, and forks in class 8 by a Japanese business entity on September 4, 2019, and registered on July 9, 2020.

Apparently, the applicant has used the disputed mark on multi-tools. Click here.


Invalidation petition by Danjaq, LLC

On March 1, 2022, Danjaq, LLC, the holding company responsible for the copyright and trademarks to the characters, elements, and other material related to James Bond on screen, filed a petition for invalidation and argued disputed mark shall be invalid in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing world-famous cinematic heroine “BOND GIRL” in the James Bond film series “007”.

Article 4(1)(vii)

Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law prohibits any mark likely to cause damage to public order or morality from registration.

In the petition, Danjaq argued “BOND GIRL” has appeared as a love interest of James Bond in the movies for over 55 years since 1962. Due to frequent appearances in magazines, other public media, and various events pertinent to the Japes Bond movie, the name and sign of “BOND GIRL” has been well-known as a cinematic heroine in association with the film series “007”.

If so, it is presumed that the applicant intentionally applied the disputed mark with the aim to monopolize the term. Since the applicant does not have any legal interest with Danjaq, a legitimate owner of trademarks and copyrights pertaining to the 007 movies, it must impermissibly cause not only damage to public order but the disorder in domestic and foreign trade.


JPO decision

The Invalidation Board found, from the produced evidence, the cinematic heroine “Bond girl” has regularly attracted audiences through screens, magazines, and promotional events of the James Bond “007” movie. The sign “BONG GIRL” had further extensive marketing and licensing to companies in vastly different product categories, not only with products associated with motion pictures, e.g. nails, cosmetics, dolls, cards, calendars, and others. Relevant consumers at the sight of the disputed mark would conceive nothing but the cinematic heroine in the film. The Board, therefore, considered that “BOND GIRL” has become worldly famous as a cinematic heroine that appeared in the “007” film series.

The Board continued in analyzing efforts made by Danjaq to enhance the commercial value of “BOND GIRL” by means of trademark registrations in various jurisdictions and licensing to different product categories.

The Board paid attention that the applicant has referred to the James Bond films and the cinematic heroin “Bond girl” in advertisements to promote the BG multi-tools.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found it is impermissible for the applicant, unrelated to Danjaq, to monopolize the term on goods in question and decided to retroactively invalidate the disputed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) for the purpose of preventing damage to public order.