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 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.

JPO Annual Report 2019

The Japan Patent Office released its 2019 Annual Report (in Japanese only) on July 12, 2019, which contain informative figures and statistics relating to IP applications in Japan and on all other activities of the JPO.

Trademark Applications in Japan

The number of trademark applications in Japan has increased recent years.
In 2018, 184,483 trademark applications were filed to the JPO. TM application via Madrid Protocol increased to 17,802 by 2.7% compared to the previous year. Direct application decreased to 166,681 by 4 %.

Trademark Application to JPO by Year

Timeline for Trademark Registration

Due to the recent increase, timeline for trademark prosecution, i.e., the average time between filing and first office action, was getting longer for the last four years in a row. Trademark Average First Action Pendency was 6.3 months in 2017. In the meantime, the pendency in 2018 exceeded 7.9 months on average. Accordingly, the average total pendency period for trademark registration was 9.3 months in 2018.

Timeline for trademark registration

Application to JPO by Foreign Company/ Non-resident

39,209 trademark applications, which account for 21.3% of the total, were filed by foreign company or non-resident in 2018. The number was increased by 8.4% since last year.

TM Application to JPO by Foreign applicants

The statistic shows Europe was leading the ranking with about 10,000 trademark applications in 2017.
In 2018, China took the leading place eventually.

First National Trademark Registration in Japan

According to “Annual Report 2018” released by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) on June 28, 2018, total number of trademark application filed to JPO in 2017 was 190,939, increased by 18 % compared to the previous year.

It is currently possible to register a trademark in two routes: designating Japan under the Madrid Protocol (international trademark registration); or, directly filing Japanese trademark application to JPO.

In 2017, the Madrid route increased to 17,328 by 25.2 % compared to the previous year. Direct route increased to 173,611 by 17.3 % as well.

Due to the increase, the period from the filing date to the date of issuing the first notice of examination result, i.e., the first action (FA) pendency, was accordingly getting longer. FA pendency for the previous three years was less than five months (4.1 months in 2014, 4.3 months in 2015, 4.9 months in 2016). In the meantime, the period in 2017 exceeded six months.

Annual Report has reference to first national trademark registration with an aim to look back on long history of the Intellectual Property System in Japan,

First Trademark Act was executed in October 1, 1884, which was 17 years after the Samurai era ended and Japan has driven toward modernization. First national trademark registration (see below) was registered in 1885. The mark was filed in the name of Yuuki Hirai (individual in Kyoto) by designating medicines.