Adidas Unsuccessful in Opposition over BOOST mark

On May 18, 2022, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Adidas AG against Trademark Reg no. 6383132 for the wordmark “G-BOOST” by finding dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with Adidas “BOOST”.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900273]

G-BOOST

UNI WORLD Co., Ltd. filed wordmark “G-BOOST” in standard character for use on ‘gloves for protection against accidents; clothing for protection against accidents; protective industrial shoes; dust masks’ in class 9 and ‘clothing; footwear; gloves; thermal gloves; sports shoes; sportswear; socks’ in class 25 on March 30, 2020.

The applicant promotes worker gloves bearing the mark “G-BOOST.”

The JPO granted protection of the mark on March 30, 2021, and published for opposition on May 25, 2021.


Opposition by Adidas

On July 14, 2021, Adidas AG filed an opposition and argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (x), (xi), and 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law due to a conflict with earlier trademark registrations pertinent to Adidas BOOST shoes, namely, TM Reg nos. 5212257 “BOOST” and 5941352 “ULTRABOOST” on shoes and sports shoes in class 25.

Allegedly, Adidas introduced Boost in 2013 as its revolutionary cushioning system, which provided the highest energy return in any running sneaker. The technology was designed to provide runners with soft cushioning and long-lasting energy that more rigid sneakers couldn’t.

Adidas argued the opposed mark “G-BOOST” is confusingly similar to “BOOST” because the term “BOOST” shall be a prominent portion of the opposed mark given an alphabetical letter “G” perse lacks distinctiveness in relation to the goods in question. Besides, “BOOST” has become famous as a source indicator of Adidas in relation to running shoes. If so, relevant consumers are likely to confuse the source of goods bearing the opposed mark with Adidas.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not admit a certain degree of reputation and popularity of the BOOST mark as a source indicator of Adidas running shoes among relevant consumers in Japan by stating that the opponent failed to produce sufficient evidence to disclose sales figures, market share, and advertising expenditures, media space and time of the goods bearing the BOOST mark even though the opponent produced evidence to demonstrate marketing campaign for the BOOST shoes in Japan.

In addition, the Board compared “G-BOOST” with “BOOST” as a whole and negated the similarity of the marks because of a clear distinction in appearance and sound.

Given the low degree of similarity of the mark and unproved famousness of the opponent mark, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of the goods bearing the opposed mark with Adidas.

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

Canada Goose Failed Trademark Opposition Over Roundel Logo

On May 11, 2022, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Canada Goose International AG against TM Reg no. 6367416 for a composite mark consisting of red, white, and blue roundel logo and literal elements by finding dissimilarity to and the unlikelihood of confusion with Canada Goose roundel logo.

[Opposition case no. 2021-900228]

Opposed mark

The opposed mark consists of a silhouette of an island or region in white placed right at the center of the emblem, a navy field with twelve red lines radiating from the center, and a wide rounded white frame with the text “KITAKYU GOODS” (top) and “NORTH NINE PROGRAM” (bottom) and five five-pointed-start-like devices (on each side of the frame) in red (see below left).

A Japanese business entity applied for use on seals and stickers [stationery] in class 16 and ornamental adhesive patches for jackets and brassards in class 26 with the JPO on June 29, 2020.

The JPO examiner granted protection of the opposed mark on March 3, 2021, and published for opposition on April 13, 2021.


Opposition by Canada Goose

To oppose registration within a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, Canada Goose International AG filed an opposition against the opposed mark on June 14, 2021.

Canada Goose 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 earlier trademark registrations for the Canada Goose Roundel Logo (see above right) in relation to apparels and a close resemblance between the opposed mark and the opponent mark by using “confusingly similar” red, white, and blue logo patch.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not find a high degree of reputation and popularity of the Canada Goose Roundel Logo as a source indicator of the opponent among relevant consumers in Japan by stating that the opponent failed to produce evidence pertinent to the sales and advertisement of goods bearing the opponent logo in Japan even though the Canada Goose ranked fourth for a must-buy down jacket in 2021.

From the totality of the evidence, the Board had no choice but to question if the opponent mark has become famous among relevant consumers in Japan as well as Canada, and other countries.

Besides, the Board negated similarity between the marks by virtue of visual distinctions caused by (i) a land-like device depicted at the center and (ii) text and devices placed in the rounded frame. Due to the distinction, both marks give rise to a dissimilar sound. Conceptually, both marks are incomparable since either mark does not have any specific meaning.

Given the low degree of similarity of the mark and unproved famousness of the opponent mark, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would confuse a source of the goods bearing the opposed mark with Canada Goose.

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

Samsung Failed in TM Opposition against “Funky Galaxy”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, against TM Reg no. 6263685 for wordmark “Funky Galaxy” by stating the opposed mark would not cause confusion with Samsung “Galaxy” even when used on smartphones.

[Opposition case no. 2020-900229, Gazette issued date: November 11, 2021]

Opposed mark

On April 12, 2019, KING Entertainment Co., Ltd. applied for registration of wordmark “Funky Galaxy” in standard character for use on goods and services in classes 9, 16, 35, and 41. The goods in class 9 covers ‘telecommunication machines and apparatus; personal digital assistants; smartphones; electronic machines, and apparatus and their parts.’

JPO granted protection of the “Funky Galaxy” mark and published for opposition on July 14, 2020.


Opposition by Samsung

On September 11, 2020, Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker famous for Galaxy series mobiles, filed an opposition and claimed the Opposed mark shall be canceled in relation to goods and services in class 9, 35, and 41 in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (x), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Trademark Law by citing its own senior TM Reg nos. 4498554 “Galaxy”, IR1335923 “GALAXY STUDIO”, and 6309820 “Galaxy Harajuku”.

Article 4(1)(xv) is a provision to prohibit any mark from registering if it is likely to cause confusion with other business entities’ well-known goods or services.

Samsung argued the Opposed mark shall cause confusion with Samsung “Galaxy” especially when used on smartphones and related goods and services, given a remarkable reputation of “Galaxy” holding 3rd market share (7.4% in 2018, 8.0% in 2019, 9,0% in 2020) in Japan and the close resemblance between “Galaxy” and “Funky Galaxy”.


JPO Decision

The Opposition Board did not question a remarkable degree of reputation and popularity of trademark “Galaxy” as a source indicator of the opponent smartphones.

In the meantime, the Board did not consider the term “Galaxy” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark from visual and conceptual points of view. If so, the opposed mark shall be assessed in its entirety.

In the assessment of similarity of the mark, the Board found “Funky Galaxy” is visually and phonetically distinguishable from “Galaxy” due to the presence of “Funky.” From concept, both marks are less similar because the opposed mark does not give rise to a specific meaning and the opponent mark “Galaxy” means an extremely large group of stars and planets. Both marks have a low degree of similarity accordingly.

Even though “Galaxy” has been well-known as a source indicator of Samsung smartphones, and the goods and services in question are closely associated with smartphones, given a low degree of similarity between “Funky Galaxy” and “Galaxy”, the Board has a reasonable ground to believe that relevant consumers would not confuse a source of goods and services bearing the opposed mark “Funky Galaxy” with Samsung and any business entity economically or systematically connected with the opponent.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided the allegations are groundless and the Opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.

TM Opposition: Claude Monet vs Monet Design

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS, an owner of Musée Marmottan Monet, and decided to cancel Japanese TM Registration no. 6245564 for a composite mark containing literal elements “Monet Design” in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law.

[Opposition case no. 2020-900171, Gazette issued date: October 29, 2021]

TM Reg no. 6245564

The opposed mark (see below) was sought for registration by a Japanese individual on various goods and services in class 16, 20, 25, 27, 35, 41, 42, and 45 on February 1, 2019.

The JPO granted protection on March 27, 2020, and published for opposition on May 12, 2020.


Opposition by ACADEMIE DES BEAUX ARTS

On July 10, 20210, before the lapse of a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date, ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS, an owner of Musée Marmottan Monet, filed an opposition. The opponent argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing IR 958197 for the wordmark “CLAUDE MONET” (see below).

Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law prohibits any mark likely to cause damage to the social and public interest and disrupt the order of fair competition from registration. Trademark Examination Guidelines set forth any sign created after “the Name of a Historical Person or Name of a Well-Known or Famous Deceased Person” shall be objectionable under the article.

TEG provides six factors to apply the article.

  1. Popularity of the well-known or famous historical person;
  2. Acceptance of the name of the historical person among the nation or region;
  3. Availability of the name of the historical person;
  4. Relationship between the availability of the name of the historical person and the designated goods or services;
  5. Circumstance, purpose, or reason of the application; and
  6. Relationship between the historical person and the applicant.

JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board found the late Claude Monet has been a world-famous French painter known even among the general public in Japan. There is no doubt that the public at the sight of the word “Monet” would conceive the painter. Because of it, “Monet” has been highly recognized as an abbreviation of the late Claude Monet.

Besides, it is certain that the opponent inherits the property and paintings of Claudia Monet. In view of activities of the opponent as a public organization to exhibit, manage, and promote the paintings in France as well as other countries, the word “Monet” has not only played a significant role in the business field of sightseeing and art but also acquired substantial value as public property of France.

As for the opposed mark, the Board does not find a reason to believe that the word “Monet” inseparably combines with other elements. If so, relevant consumers are likely to consider the word “Monet” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided to cancel the opposed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii).

To whom does “Mary Poppins” return?

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an invalidation petition by Disney Enterprises, Inc. against Japanese TM Reg no. 5710595 for the wordmark “Mary Poppins” by finding that “Mary Poppins” has not been well known as a source indicator of Disney.

[Invalidation case no. 2019-890040, Gazette issued date: June 25, 2021]

TM Registration no. 5710595

Disputed mark, consisting of the word “Mary Poppins” in standard character (see below), was applied for registration on February 28, 2014, in respect of caring for babies [excluding services provided at facilities]; babysitting in class 45.

Without confronting refusal during the substantive examination, the disputed mark was registered on October 17, 2014.

The applicant of the disputed mark, Mary Poppins Inc., has apparently offered babysitting services in Kobe, Japan since its establishment in 1988.

Screen capture from https://www.marypoppins.co.jp/en/

Petition for invalidation by Disney

Japan Trademark Law has a provision to retroactively invalidate trademark registration for certain restricted reasons specified under Article 46 (1), provided that the interested party files an invalidation petition within a five-year statute of limitations.

Disney filed a petition for invalidation against the disputed mark on July 18, 2019, three months before the lapse of the limitations period, and argued the mark unquestionably freerides on the world-famous Walt Disney film “Mary Poppins” and thus relevant consumers would associate the disputed mark with Disney when used on the services in question. If so, it shall be invalid in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xv), and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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

Article 4(1)(xv) provides that a mark shall not be registered where it is likely to cause confusion with other business entities ’ well-known goods or services, to the benefit of brand owners and users.

Article 4(1)(xix) prohibits registering a trademark that is identical with, or similar to, another entity’s famous mark, if such trademark is aimed for unfair purposes, e.g. gaining unfair profits, or causing damage to the entity.


Mary Poppins, an American musical film, released in 1964, features the now-iconic screen debut of Julie Andrews. A children’s classic, Mary Poppins is considered to be among the finest of Walt Disney’s productions based on the original books by P.L Travers.


JPO Decision

The JPO Invalidation Board admitted a certain degree of reputation and popularity of “Mary Poppins” as the title of the beloved Walt Disney film and the name of the main character of the film.

In the meantime, the Board questioned if “Mary Poppins” has played a distinctive role in indicating a source of Disney’s goods or services. A mere fact that goods featuring the Walt Disney films and its characters are merchandised at the Tokyo Disney Resort and Disney Shops in Japan is insufficient to prove Disney has used “Mary Poppins” as a source indicator to identify their business, the Board found.

In so far as “Mary Poppins” has not been recognized as a source indicator, but a title of the world-famous Walt Disney film or the main character of the film, it is unlikely that relevant consumers would consider the disputed mark “Mary Poppins” used on the services in question coming from Disney or entities systematically or economically connected with the opponent.

The Board also referred to the precedent court cases that ruled invalidation of the trademark “Anne of Green Gables” and “Tarzan” in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii). Contrary to these films, the Board could find no authorized activity to protect or preserve the film or original books of “Mary Poppins” as cultural heritage and prohibit unlicensed use by the private sector. If so, it is inadequate to treat the case equally with them. The Board held that the disputed mark shall not be likely to cause damage to public order or morality.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO decided the disputed mark shall remain valid and dismissed the invalidation entirely.

“MONA LISA” May Smile At You

In a recent decision, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) disaffirmed the examiner’s refusal and accepted for registration of the world-famous painting, ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci.
[Appeal case no. 2020-9377, Gazette issued date: May 28, 2021]


“MONA LISA”

Disputed mark, consisting of a wordmark “MONA LISA” written in a Japanese katakana character (see below), was filed by a Japanese company, Negibito Co., Ltd on February 20, 2019, for use on ‘edible live aquatic animals; edible unprocessed seaweeds; fresh vegetables; fresh fruits; live mammals, fish [not for food], birds and insects and other goods in class 32.

Apparently, the company uses the disputed mark on specially grown scallions with a high sugar content of more than 20 degrees to be sold at JPY10,000 (USD92) for one stalk!


Article 4(1)(vii)

JPO examiner raised her objection by stating that since “MONA LISA” has been known for the world-famous painting, ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci, it shall contravene the generally accepted sense of morality or the international faith if registered. Accordingly, the disputed mark shall be rejected in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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

Trademark Examination Guidelines 42.107.05 provides seven criteria to take into consideration to determine if a mark, consisting of valuable cultural products (works of art), shall contravene the article.

(i) Famousness of the cultural products
(ii) Recognition of the cultural products among citizens or local residents
(iii) State of use of the cultural products
(iv) Relationship between the state of use of the cultural products and the designated goods or services
(v) Background, purpose, and reason for filing an application
(vi) Relationship between the cultural products and the applicant
(vii) Authorized entity that manages and owns the cultural products (if any)

The applicant filed an appeal against the refusal on July 3, 2020.


JPO Appeal Board decision

The Appeal Board assessed seven criteria pertinent to the works of art “MONA LISA” in accordance with the Trademark Examination Guideline.

The Board admitted a remarkable degree of recognition and reputation of “MONA LISA” among the general public in Japan as the world-famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

In the meantime, the Board questions if the goods in question are closely related to works of art and art exhibitions that the term “MONA LISA” has been used.

Besides, the Board found that the term is not used to promote or develop certain regions associated with the painting in relation to the goods in question.

Based on the foregoing, the Board held that it is unlikely that registration of the disputed mark would constitute a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to a fundamental interest of society when used in connection with the goods in class 32. Therefore, the disputed mark “MONA LISA” shall not be refused on the basis of the public policy exception provided for in Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law.

The University of Oxford Failed in Opposition Against “OXFORD” mark

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by Oxford Limited against trademark registration no. 6164941 for composite mark comprised of term “OXFORD” and a square X symbol in class 25, 35,40 by questioning whether the term per se has been known as a source indicator of the University.
[Opposition case no. 2019-900303, Gazette issued date: October 13, 2020]

Opposed mark

Japanese trademark registration no. 6164941 for composite mark comprised of term “OXFORD” and a square X symbol colored in dark blue (see below), was filed on October 26, 2018, by Oxford Corporation Co., Ltd., a Japanese business entity tailoring custom-made suits, over clothing, footwear made in England in class 25, retail or wholesale services for clothing, footwear and other goods in class 35, and dressmaking, treatment or processing of cloth, clothing or fur, custom tailoring services, and others in class 40.

JPO granted to protect the opposed mark and published for registration on August 20, 2019.

Opposition

On October 18, 2019, Oxford Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Oxford, filed an opposition and claimed the Opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (viii), (xi), (xv) and (xix) of the Trademark Law by citing its own marks (see below).

Oxford Limited argued that the University of Oxford is an extremely well-known university worldwide. It has been ranked in 5th and 3rd places in tables of top international higher education institutes. Besides, Oxford Limited has promoted and licensed commercial goods bearing trademarks of the University. In Japan, various licensed goods e.g. apparel, accessories, interiors, stationery, educational toys are distributed via Ingram Co., Ltd., an authorized broker.

Under the circumstances, there is no doubt that relevant consumers at the sight of the term “OXFORD” would conceive the University when used on goods and services in question. If so, the opposed mark shall be deemed similar to and likely to cause confusion with the cited mark since the term “OXFORD” per se plays a dominant role in identifying a source.

JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted a high degree of the reputation of “University of Oxford” among the general public. In the meantime, the Board opined that it is questionable if the term “OXFORD” has acquired a substantial degree of popularity as a source indicator of the University from the produced evidence and totality of the circumstances in view of the fact that the term is also a geographical indication, namely, the capital of the county of Oxfordshire.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found relevant consumers would recognize the term “OXFORD” of the Opposed mark just to indicate ‘the capital of the county of Oxfordshire’. Meanwhile, the cited marks give rise to a sound and concept pertinent to the University. The figurative element of both marks is sufficiently distinguishable from appearance. There was a low level of visual, aural, and conceptual similarity between the marks to the extent that relevant consumers would be unlikely to confuse the Opposed mark with the University of Oxford. Therefore, the allegations are groundless and the Opposed mark shall remain valid as the status quo.


I am not convinced with the JPO’s finding of “the term OXFORD of the Opposed mark just to indicate ‘the capital of the county of Oxfordshire”. I firmly believe the term immediately reminds us of the University rather than the name of the capital of Oxfordshire.

Never Register “BOND GIRL” Never Again

In a recent administrative decision, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with Danjaq, LLC, and declared invalidation of a wordmark “BOND GIRL” written in a Japanese katakana character in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law.

[Invalidation case no. 2019-890044, Gazette issued date: April 24, 2020]

Disputed mark

“BOND GIRL” written in a Japanese katakana character (see below) was filed to JPO on the service of ‘arranging, conducting, and organization of seminars’ in class 41 by a Japanese individual on November 4, 2015, and registered on December 2, 2016.

Opposition & Invalidation petition by Danjaq, LLC

On March 9, 2017, just before the lapse of a two-months opposition period, 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 an opposition to the disputed mark.

However, since Danjaq failed to supplement arguments for opposition within a statutory period, the JPO decided to dismiss the opposition entirely.

On August 2, 2019, Danjaq filed a petition for invalidation and argued disputed mark shall be invalid in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii), (xv) and (xix) of the 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 for cinematic heroine in association with the film series “007”.

If so, it is presumed that the applicant intentionally applied disputed mark with an 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.

Invalidation Board decision

The Invalidation Board initially noted that the James Bond film series “007” is world-widely known motion pictures. From the produced evidence, the cinematic heroine “Bond girl” has regularly attracted audiences through screens, magazines, and promotional events of the movie. The sign “BONG GIRL” had further extensive marketing and licensing to companies in vastly different product categories, not only with products associated with the 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 finally concluded that taking into account the foregoing, since it appears that the applicant makes less contribution to establishing reputation and goodwill on “BOND GIRL”, it shall be impermissible for the applicant to monopolize the term on service in question.

To prevent damage to public order, the disputed mark shall be retroactively invalidated in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii).

In the meantime, surprisingly, the Board denied Danjaq’s allegation regarding a likelihood of confusion because “BOND GIRL” is just famous for cinematic heroine, not as a source indicator of Danjaq.

Adidas defeated in 3-stripe trademark dispute

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) held in an opposition filed by Adidas AG that trademark registration no. 6085087 for horizontal three-stripes (Opposed mark) shall remain as valid as ever and entirely dismissed Adidas’ claims based on its famous three stripes.
[Opposition case no. 2018-900382, Gazette issued on February 28, 2020]

ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL

Opposed mark (see below) was applied for registration on October 10, 2017 over clothing, headwear, footwear in class 25, advertisement and promotion of music festival, concert in class 35, arrangement and conducting of musical performances, music festival, concerts in class 41 by Ultra Enterprises Inc., a U.S. business entity organizing outdoor electronic music event “ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL (UML)”, and published for registration on October 23, 2018.

Apparently, opposed mark is used as a symbolic logo for Ultra Music Festival’s RESISTANCE set.

Opposition by Adidas

On December 21, 2018, Adidas AG filed an opposition and argued opposed mark is revocable under Article 4(1)(vii) and 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law in relation to its famous three stripes (see below).

Article 4(1)(vii)

Article 4(1)(vii) prohibits any mark likely to offend public order and morals from registering.

Based on a remarkable degree of reputation and popularity to Adidas three stripes, opponent asserted, applicant must have been aware of Adidas three stripes and filed opposed mark with a malicious intention to take advantage of the reputation and credit of opponent’s famous trademark and impair the goodwill embodied on its iconic three stripes.

Article 4(1)(xv)

Article 4(1)(xv) prohibits to register a trademark which is likely to cause confusion with a business of other entity.

Adidas argued that, from appearance and concept, opposed mark evidently gives rise to a same impression with Adidas three stripes since each stripe of the mark is depicted in the same direction, width and shape, besides a space between stripe also has the same width with the stripe.

Average consumers with an ordinary care of goods/services in question who have been quite familiar with Adidas are likely to associate opposed mark with Adidas’ three-stripes. Inter alia, when opposed mark is used on apparels with a smaller configuration printed in one spot, so-called ‘one-point mark’, it must be difficult for relevant consumers to distinguish opposed mark with Adidas three-stripes because of its resemblance. Besides, goods/services in question are closely related to opponent business, namely sportswear, sports shoes, sports events. If so, it is highly anticipated that relevant consumers would confuse a source of opposed mark with opponent.

JPO Decision

The Opposition Board admitted a high degree of reputation and popularity to Adidas three stripes in relation to sport shoes, sportswear, sports gear at the time of initial filing and registration of opposed mark.

In the meantime, the Board found a low degree of originality of three stripes and similarity between the marks, from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view. The Board stated opposed mark can be perceived as ‘three-stripes’ deployed inside a vertically long rectangle. On the other hand, opponent’s marks consist of ‘three-stripes’ deployed inside a triangle or parallelogram. Even if Adidas three stripes have acquired remarkable reputation, because of a low degree of similarity and the originality, relevant consumers at the sight of opposed mark would not hesitate to consider a source of opposed mark unrelated to Adidas.
Thus, the Board held it is unlikely that relevant consumers confuse or associate opposed mark with Adidas.

The Board also negated opponent’s allegation of ‘one-point mark’ theory by stating that even if average consumers have tendency to pay less attention to details of a mark when used on apparels with smaller configuration, due to dissimilar impression caused by a different outline (vertically long rectangle, triangle, and parallelogram) of respective mark, opposed mark shall be undoubtedly perceived as a distinctive three-stripes unrelated to Adidas by relevant consumers with an ordinary care.

Besides, from the produced evidences, the Board found it was not foreseen a circumstance to offend public order and morals from registering opposed mark and give harmful effect to the international faith.

Based on the foregoing, the Board concluded opposed mark shall be irrevocable under Article 4(1)(vii) as well as (xv) and granted registration a status quo.

Adidas unsuccessful in an attempt to prevent trademark protection for two-stripes

The Opposition Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) held in an opposition filed by Adidas AG that trademark registration no. 6016240 for two-stripes device (Opposed mark) shall remain as valid as ever and entirely dismissed Adidas’ claims based on its famous three stripes.[Opposition case no. 2018-900100, Gazette issued on August 30, 2019]

Opposed mark

Opposed mark (see below) was applied for registration on June 16, 2016 over shoes in class 25 by Marubeni Footwear, a Japanese business entity, and published for registration on February 27, 2018.

Opposition by Adidas

On April 24, 2018, Adidas AG filed an opposition and argued opposed mark is revocable under Article 4(1)(vii) and 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law in relation to its famous three stripes (see below).

Article 4(1)(vii)

Article 4(1)(vii) prohibits any mark likely to offend public order and morals from registering.

Trademark Examination Guidelines set forth criteria for the article and examples.
Among others, “Trademarks whose registration is contrary to the order predetermined under the Trademark Act and is utterly unacceptable for lack of social reasonableness in the background to the filing of an application for trademark registration.”

Based on a remarkable degree of reputation and popularity to Adidas three stripes, opponent asserted, applicant must have been aware of Adidas three stripes and filed opposed mark with a malicious intention to take advantage of the reputation and credit of opponent’s famous trademark and impair the goodwill embodied on its iconic three stripes.

Article 4(1)(xv)

Article 4(1)(xv) prohibits to register a trademark which is likely to cause confusion with a business of other entity.

Adidas argued that, from appearance, opposed mark evidently gives rise to a same impression with Adidas three stripes since each stripe of the mark is depicted in the same direction, width and shape, besides a space between stripe also has the same width with the stripe.

Given opponent mark has been substantially used in various colors, length, and configurations, average consumers with an ordinary care of shoes who have been quite familiar with Adidas are likely to associate opposed mark with Adidas’ three-stripes. Inter alia, when each stripe of opposed mark is used in different color on side upper sole and a space between the stripes (upper sole fabric) has other color, and thus opposed mark looks like depicting three stripes on shoes, it is highly anticipated that relevant consumers would confuse its source with opponent.

Opposition decision

The Opposition Board admitted a high degree of reputation and popularity to Adidas three stripes in relation to sport shoes, sportswear, sports gear at the time of initial filing and registration of opposed mark.

In the meantime, the Board found a low degree of originality of three stripes and similarity between the marks, from visual, phonetic, and conceptual points of view since opposed mark can be clearly perceived as ‘two-stripes’. Even if Adidas three stripes has acquired remarkable reputation, average consumers of sports shoes would not mistake two stripes for three stripes in purchasing shoes with opposed mark.
If so, the Board believes it is unlikely that relevant consumers confuse or associate opposed mark with Adidas.

The Board also negated opponent’s allegation of a possible ‘three-stripes’ appearance under specific color combination by stating that opposed mark is nothing but a two-stripes design mark. The space in between two stripes does not constitute opposed mark. If so, the allegation shall be irrelevant to the case.

Besides, from the produced evidences, the Board found it was not foreseen a circumstance to offend public order and morals from registering opposed mark and give harmful effect to the international faith.

Based on the foregoing, the Board concluded opposed mark shall not be revocable under Article 4(1)(vii) as well as (xv) and granted registration a status quo.