JPO Status Report 2022

According to “JPO Status Report 2022” released on March 31, 2022, by the Japan Patent Office (JPO), a total of 184,631 trademark applications were filed in 2021. This number increased 2% compared to the previous year when the number of applications amounted to 181,072.

It is astonishing to see that SM Entertainment Co., Ltd., a South Korean record label and entertainment agency, became a top-ranking foreign registrant in 2021 who could successfully register 185 trademarks in Japan, drastically increased from the previous year.

Requests for accelerated examination consecutively increased to 11,450 by 2.2% in 2021, which enables applicants to obtain trademark registration within 2months.

As a background, it should be noted that the entire trademark process for general examination at the JPO (the total time of application from filing to registration) takes 11.2 months on average, which is 0.3 months longer than the previous year.

You can access and download the full text of “JPO Status Report 2022” from here.

Japan: Increase in Trademark Fees, Effective April 1, 2022

On September 14, 2021, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) announced an increase in trademark registration fees and renewal fees, effective April 1, 2022. For anyone considering a new Japan trademark application filing as well as anyone having a renewal due, you can take advantage of the current JPO fee structure by filing before the effective date.

<National application>

Trademark filing fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Trademark filingJPY3,400 + JPY8,600/additional classSame
Defensive mark filingJPY6,800 + JPY17,200/additional classSame

Trademark registration fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Trademark registration (for 10 years)JPY28,200/classJPY32,900/class
Trademark registration (for 5 years)JPY16,400/classJPY17,200/class
Defensive mark registrationJPY28,200/classJPY32,900/class

Renewal fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Renewal (for 10 years)JPY38,800/classJPY43,600/class
Renewal (for 5 years)JPY22,600/classJPY22,800/class
Renewal of defensive mark (10 years)JPY33,400/classJPY37,500/class

<International application via the Madrid Protocol>

Trademark filing fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Individual feeJPY2,700 + JPY8,600/additional classSame

Trademark registration fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Individual feeJPY28,200/classJPY32,900/class

Renewal fee

Official feePresentEffective from April 2022
Individual feeJPY38,800/classJPY43,600/class

JPO Annual Report 2021

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) released its 2021 Annual Report (in Japanese only) on July 14, 2021, which contain informative figures and statistics relating to IP applications in Japan and on all other activities of the JPO.

Trademark applications filed in 2020

Presumably because of the prolonged pandemic, the number of trademark applications in Japan decreased to 181,072 by 5 % in 2020.

TM application via Madrid Protocol also decreased to 17,924 by 7.8% compared to the previous year. Direct application decreased to 163,148 by 4.7 %.

Pendency time for trademark prosecution

Regardless of the decreased number of trademark applications, first office action pendency, the average number of months from the date of application filing to the JPO examiner’s first office action, was getting longer for the last five years in a row. First Action Pendency was 10.0 months in 2020.

Total pendency, the average number of months from date of filing to registration in 2020 was extended to 11.2 months, two months longer than 2019 (9.3 months).

TM applications to JPO by Foreign Company/ Non-resident

45,697 trademark applications, which account for 25.2 % of the total, were filed by foreign company or non-resident in 2020. The ratio was increased by 3.3 % since last year.

The statistic shows China was leading the ranking with about 18,181 trademark applications in 2020, increased by 45 % from the previous year.

Coronavirus Force Japan to Eliminate Signature on POA

Both Hanko seals and paper documents have long been regarded as important parts of Japan’s working or administrative culture. Along with this, it has been an established practice that the country’s authority requires the original document signed by a foreigner to be submitted. By virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has taken its latest step to bring government at all levels further into the digital age.
Recently, the Japanese parliament enacted six laws to promote electronic government, with steps such as ending Hanko seals on official documents and allow digital data to be used instead of paper documents.

On June 11, 2021, the new governmental and ministerial ordinances concerning registration procedures of intellectual property were promulgated.

Based on the new ordinances, from June 12, 2021, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) would not require an original Power of Attorney (POA) with the signature of a foreign company or individual who entrusts the case to an IP attorney in Japan anymore. As long as the POA clearly specifies the name and address of the foreign company and its representative, the JPO would accept it genuine and consider the entrusted attorney as an agent of subsequent action with the JPO even if the POA does not have a signature on it.

It should be noted that, as a result of the new ordinances, the JPO decided to eliminate Hanko seals or signatures on 764 paper documents among 797 in total. The remaining 33 documents pertaining to the ownership or license of IP right still require an original with inked-signature or Hanko seals to prevent harm by document falsification.

Coronavirus vs the Tokyo Olympic Games

With fewer than 80 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Japan just extended a state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo until May 31, 2021, to stem a surge in coronavirus cases.

Japanese trademark applications in 2020

One year has passed since Japan’s first state of emergency was declared on April 7 last year and lasted into late May.

Recent JPO statistical data, released on April 30, 2021, revealed the number of trademark applications newly filed in the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in 2020 fell by 5.1% to 181,072 compared to the previous year, 2019. When counting the total number of classes specified the trademark applications in 2020, it fell by 24.5% from the previous year.

A total of 17,924 trademarks were filed in the JPO via the Madrid Protocol in 2020. The number dropped by 7.8% from 2019.

The data also showed a 3.4% decrease in the number of international trademark applications filed with the JPO as the office of origin in 2020 to 3,033.

The Tokyo Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympic Committee filed an initial trademark application for the “TOKYO 2020” mark (see below) in 2011, two years before the IOC decision.

In January 2012, the Committee applied for registration for the wordmark “TOKYO 2020” in standard character covering all 45 classes to which the JPO granted protection in November 2013.

However, because of the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed to 2021. The Olympics will now run from July 23 to August 8 2021 and the Paralympics will be held from August 24 until September 5, 2021.

On March 25, 2020, the Committee filed a trademark application for the wordmark “TOKYO 2021” for use on goods and services in 45 classes and subsequently divided the application so that the mark would remain pending the JPO examination as long as possible in fear of trademark theft.

It came to my notice that the following trademarks are filed with the JPO by other entities.

TM application no. 2020-27573 “tokyo 2022” (cl. 32)
TM application no. 2020-32238 “Tokyo 2022” (cl.18)
TM application no. 2020-35399 “TOKYO 2020+1” (cl. 41)
TM application no. 2020-14136 “TOKYO2032” (cl. 35, 41)
TM application no. 2020-125468 “Tokyo 2021 Samurai Athlete” (cl. 41)
TM application no. 2021-16249 “TOKYO 2020-2032” (cl. 41)

Who knows when and how the Tokyo Olympic Games are safely held?
Rather, I would eager to know when will the COVID-19 pandemic end.

Tips to Pass the JPO Trademark Registration Exam in 2 months

“JPO Status Report 2020” reveals more applicants make use of the “Accelerated Examination” in order to obtain an earlier trademark registration.

According to the latest report, the number of requests for accelerated examination in 2019 was 8,110, which increased by 54% than the previous year.

Accelerated Trademark Examination

The accelerated examination has enabled the shortening trademark examination period to 1.7 months on average. Being that it takes 7.9 months or longer for the JPO to notify the examination result at present, accelerated examination must be appealing to an applicant who wants their brand to be registered as early as possible.

The accelerated examination is available in three cases.

[Case 1]

An applicant is in use of or likely to use an applied mark on more than one of the goods/services in the designation, and in urgent need of registration.

To meet an urgent need requirement, the applicant is required to demonstrate; (i) unauthorized third party uses an applied mark, (ii) any third party request a license to use the applied mark, (iii) any third-party demand applicant to cease use of the applied mark, or (iv) applicant filed the identical mark to a foreign country.

[Case 2]

An applicant is in use of or likely to use an applied mark on every goods/service in the designation.

[Case 3]

An applicant is in use of or likely to use an applied mark on more than one of goods/services in the designation, and the description of goods/services are all in conformity with that listed in the Examination guidelines for similar goods and services.

Besides, (v) where the applicant seeks to apply for international registration of trademark identical with the applied mark through the Madrid Protocol, it is also admitted meeting an urgent need requirement for Case 1.

Trademark Applications Drop as Pandemic Pushes Japan into Recession

Japan’s economy has slipped into recession for the first time since 2015 in the last quarter, putting the nation on course for its deepest slump as the coronavirus crisis ravages businesses and consumers. First-quarter GDP data revealed Japan’s GDP shrinks 3.4% in March 2020 amid pandemic, follows a 6.4% decline during the last quarter of 2019.

As widely spreading the serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) announced, on July 1, 2020, a status update on its operations during the pandemic, including the extent to which trademark applications are declining.

The number of trademark applications filed in the Japan Patent Office (JPO) fell by a whopping 24.3% to 55,353 in the first four months 2020. In the meantime, Patent fell by 5.7% and Design fell by 3.9% for the same period.

Excerpt from the JPO Statistical Data (2020.1-4)

The data illustrated how the coronavirus pandemic is considerably hampering new trademark applications, compared with other intellectual properties, in Japan.

Excerpt from the JPO Statistical Data (2020.1-4)