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.

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.

BEYOND MEAT defeats “Beyond Meat Burger”

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) sided with Beyond Meat Inc. and canceled TM Reg no. 6197193 for wordmark “Beyond Meat Burger” by free-riding on the business reputation of “BEYOND MEAT”.

[Opposition case no. 2020-900023, Gazette issued date: July 30, 2021]

Beyond Meat Burger

Opposed mark, consisting of a wordmark “Beyond Meat Burger” written in a Japanese katakana character (see below), was filed by a Japanese individual on July 23, 2018, for use on ‘meat products’ in class 29 and ‘clothing’ in class 25.

Subsequently, the applicant deleted the designated goods in class 29.

The mark was registered on November 15, 2019, and published for opposition on December 10, 2019.


Beyond Meat Inc., a US food processing company that specializes in providing plant-based meat, filed an opposition against the “Beyond Meat Burger” mark with the JPO on January 24, 2020, before the lapse of a two-month statutory period for the opposition.

In the opposition brief, Beyond Meat argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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.

It is interpreted that the “famous mark” under the article does not require a high reputation among Japanese consumers. If domestic consumers recognize such a reputation in foreign countries, it will suffice.

Beyond Meat alleged that the “BEYOND MEAT” mark has been well known for plant-based meat substitutes by the opponent to meat distributors as well as US consumers (It should be noted that Beyond Meat has yet to launch the business in Japan as of now). It is obvious that the opposed mark is confusingly similar to “BEYOND MEAT”. Presumably, the opposed party must have filed the opposed mark with a fraudulent intention to prevent registration of the “BEYOND MEAT” mark in Japan and gain unjust enrichment by doing so.

JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted that the “BEYOND MEAT” mark has acquired a remarkable degree of reputation among US consumers as a source indicator of plant-based meat substitutes by Beyond Meat Inc. even before the application date of the opposed mark

The Board assessed the opposed mark is confusingly similar to “BEYOND MEAT”. Relevant consumers with an ordinary care would see the term “Beyond Meat” as a prominent portion of the opposed mark because the consumers get familiar with the English word “Burger.”

A fact that the opposed party initially designated ‘meat products’ implies the applicant’s intention to use the opposed mark on the goods that are closely associated with meat substitutes. If so, the Board had a reasonable ground to believe the opposed mark was filed with an intention to take advantage of goodwill and business reputation associated with Beyond Meat’s tradename and trademark.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO decided to retroactively cancel the opposed mark “Beyond Meat Burger” in contravention of Article 4(1)(xix).