Trademark Dispute: Chateau Mouton Rothschild vs MOUTON

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) declared invalidation of TM Reg no. 6090508 for wordmark “MOUTON” in classes 35 and 43 due to a likelihood of confusion with famous mark “Mouton” as a source indicator of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, one of the most famous wine estates in the world.
[Invalidation case no. 2022-890079, decided on January 22, 2024]



TM Reg no. 6090508 “MOUTON”

WALTZ Co., Ltd. filed a trademark application for wordmark “MOUTON” in relation to retail or wholesale services of various foods and drinks (not including wine) of class 35 and restaurant services of class 43 with the JPO on November 17, 2017. The applicant operates a bar and restaurant named “MOUTON” in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

A screen capture from https://www.pub-mouton.com/

The mark was granted protection on September 5, 2018, published for a post-grant opposition on November 13, 2018.


Unsuccessful Opposition

Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. filed an opposition against TM Reg no. 6090508 “MOUTON” on January 15, 2019 and claimed cancellation of the mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(vii) and (xv) of the Trademark Law. However, the JPO Opposition Board decided to dismiss the opposition on September 6, 2019 (Opposition case no. 2019-900012).

Subsequently, to challenge the validity of the trademark registration for the MOUTON mark, Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. filed an invalidation with the JPO on October 7, 2022, a month before the five-year statute of limitations from the registration date was set to lapse. The claimant argued the disputed mark is identical with a well-known abbreviation of the world-famous wine “Chateau Mouton Rothschild”. Besides, in view of close association between wine and the services in question, relevant consumers and traders would confuse a source of the services bearing the mark “MOUTON” with the claimant. If so, the disputed mark shall be invalidated in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) of the Trademark Law.

WALTZ did not respond to the arguments during the invalidation trial procedure.


JPO Invalidation decision

On January 22, 2024, the JPO Trial Board decided to annul TM Reg no. 6090508 “MOUTON” in relation to all of the retail or wholesale services designated in class 35 and restaurant services in class 43 by stating that:

From the facts revealed by the produced evidence, the Board has a reason to believe that the term “Mouton” has acquired a substantial degree of reputation and popularity among relevant consumers and traders to indicate the world-famous wine and its abbreviation.

Undoubtedly, the disputed mark “MOUTON” shall be similar to the mark “Chateau Mouton Rothschild” from phonetical and conceptual points of view even if there is a distinction in appearance between the marks.

There is a close association between wine and retail or wholesale services of various foods and drinks as well as restaurant services.

If so, relevant consumers are likely to confuse a source of the services bearing the disputed mark with the claimant or other business entity systematically or economically connected with them.

Based on the foregoing, the Trial Board found the disputed mark shall be invalidated in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) of the Trademark Law.

Unsuccessful trademark opposition over LXR Hotels & Resorts by Hilton

In a bid to oppose TM Reg nos. 6668894 “LX RESORT” and 6668893 “LX HOTEL”, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed the oppositions filed by Hilton Worldwide Manage Limited due to dissimilarity to and unlikelihood of confusion with Hilton’s earlier trademark registration for “LXR HOTELS & RESORTS”.

[Opposition case nos. 2023-900082 and 2023-900083, decided on December 1, 2023]

Opposed mark

Hack Japan Holdings Co., Ltd. filed trademark applications for wordmark “LX HOTEL” and “LX RESORT” in standard character over services in classes 35 and 43 including hotel services with the JPO on August 29, 2022.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed marks on February 3, 2023, and published it for post-grant opposition on February 13, 2023.


Opposition by Hilton

Hilton Worldwide Manage Limited filed an opposition on April 12, 2023 just before the lapse of two-month opposition period.

Hilton claimed the opposed marks shall be cancelled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier TM Reg no. 6117133 for wordmark “LXR HOTELS & RESORTS”. Given both “LX” and “LXR” imply a meaning of “luxury”, there is a high degree of similarity in meaning.

By taking into consideration the cited mark “LXR HOTELS & RESORTS” has been recognized among consumers of the Hilton hotels, relevant consumers are likely to confuse a source of hotel in the name of “LX HOTEL” and “LX RESPRT” with Hilton’s luxury hotels when used on the services in question.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not admit a high degree of recognition of the Hilton “LXR HOTELS & RESORTS” among relevant consumers in Japan because of insufficient evidence to find such recognition objectively.

The Board found the opposed marks shall be assessed in its entirety and would not give rise to any specific meaning at all. Obviously, there is no similarity in appearance and sound between two marks. The Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would consider the term “LX” of the opposed marks as an abbreviation of “luxury”. If so, the opposed marks shall be dissimilar to the cited mark “LXR HOTELS & RESORTS”.

In view of a low degree of similarity, it is unlikely that relevant consumers confuse a source of hotel in the name of “LX HOTEL” and “LX RESORT” with the opponent or any business entity systematically or economically connected with Hilton.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found the oppositions groundless and upheld validity of the opposed marks.

JPO decided trademark “MONO” dissimilar to “MONO+”

In a trademark appeal disputing similarity between “MONO” and “MONO+”, the Appeal Board of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) reversed the examiner’s rejection and found both marks dissimilar and unlikely to cause confusion.

[Appeal case no. 2023-6307, decided on November 1, 2023]

MONO+

Onoya Inc. filed a mark “MONO+” (see below) for use on retail or wholesale services for furniture, joinery fittings, flowers [natural] and trees, kitchen equipment, cleaning tools and washing utensils in class 35 with the JPO on September 11, 2021.

The JPO examiner rejected the mark due to a conflict with earlier TM Reg no. 4533103 for wordmark “MONO” in standard character on goods of food wrapping plastic film for household purposes; garbage bags of paper or plastic for household purposes; hygienic hand tools of paper; towels of paper; table napkins of paper; hand towels of paper; handkerchiefs of paper in class 16 based on Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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

There is criterion that the examiner is checking when assessing the similarity between the marks:

  • visual similarity
  • aural similarity
  • conceptual similarity

and taking into account all these three aspects examiner makes a decision if a mark is similar (at least to some extent) with the earlier mark and if there is a likelihood of confusion for the consumers.


JPO Appeal Board decision

The Board found the applied mark “MONO+” gives rise to a sound of “mono-plus”, but it has no specific meaning in view of overall appearance and a meaning of respective word “MONO” and “+”.

As for the cited mark, the Board held the term “MONO” is not a foreign word familiar among relevant consumers in Japan. Thus, it has a sound of “mono”, but no specific meaning.

Comparing both marks, although they share the same appearance in that both contain the word “MONO”, they are sufficiently distinguishable because, by virtue of the presence or absence of the “+” symbol at the end, it is conceived both marks represent different words as a whole.  

Phonetically, they start with the same sound “mono”, but the overall tone and impression are different with or without the sound “plus” at the end. Due to the reason, both sounds can be distinguishable.

It is meaningless to compare the concept of both marks because neither does give rise to a specific meaning.

If so, from the totality of visual, aural, and conceptual points of view, the Board has no reason to believe that relevant consumers are likely to confuse the source of the services in class 35 bearing the applied mark with the earlier mark.

Based on the foregoing, the Board found both marks are dissimilar regardless of similarity in goods and services, and decided to cancel the rejection and granted protection of the applied mark.

ANYTIME FITNESS Unsuccessful Opposition against “anytime 24” mark in relation to fitness service

On October 17, 2023, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Anytime Fitness Franchisor LLC against TM Reg no. 6630608 for the mark “anytime 24” in class 41 due to dissimilarity and unlikelihood of confusion with “ANYTIME FITNESS”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900541]

“anytime 24”

Opposed mark, consisting of “anytime”, “24” and a clock device (see below), was filed by ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd. for use on various services in classes 35, 37, 39 and 41, including sports instruction services; arranging, conducting and organization of seminars relating to sports; production of videotape file in the field of sports; providing electronic publications relating to sports on October 14, 2021.

The JPO granted protection of the “anytime 24” mark on October 19, 2022, and published it for a post-grant opposition on October 31, 2022.


Opposition by ANYTIME FITNESS

Anytime Fitness Franchisor LLC (AFF), an operator of the fastest-growing fitness club “ANYTIME FITNESS” franchise in the world, with more than 4 million members at more than 4,800 gyms on all seven continents, filed an opposition on December 29, 2022.

AFF 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 on the grounds that “ANYTIME FITNESS” has become famous among relevant consumers as a source indicator of the fitness gym opening 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the term “ANYTIME” is a dominant portion of cited mark (TM Reg nos. 5284268 and 5742766) in connection with fitness-related services in class 41. If so, the consumers are likely to confuse the source of the opposed mark with AFF when used on fitness-related services because of close resemblance between the opposed mark and “ANYTIME FITNESS”.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board found the opposed mark, from its configuration, gives rise to a pronunciation and meaning of “anytime” because the digit “24” is inherently descriptive.

In the meantime, the Board held the cited mark has a pronunciation of “ANYTIMIE FITNESS” and does not give rise to any specific meaning as a whole. Even if the word “FITNESS” lacks distinctiveness in relation to fitness-related services, the Board has a reason to believe the cited mark shall be assessed in its entirety by virtue of a tight combination with other elements.

When it comes to compare a dominant portion “anytime” of the opposed mark with “ANYTIME FITNESS”, the consumers are unlikely to confuse the source of two marks from visual, phonetical and conceptual points of view, the Board said.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO concluded dissimilarity of mark and unlikelihood of confusion, and decided to dismiss the opposition entirely.

Trademark Opposition Case: “DROP” vs “THE DROP”

In a trademark opposition disputing similarity between “DROP” and “THE DROP”, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) decided to cancel TM Reg no. 6556243 for the mark “DROP” in class 35 due to similarity to IR no. 1258281 “THE DROP” in class 20 owned by Fritz Hansen A/S.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900306, decided on October 2, 2023]

Opposed mark “DROP”

Massdrop, Inc., a US e-commerce company, filed trademark application for word mark “DROP” in standard character for use on retail or wholesales services for various categories of goods including furniture in class 35 on October 9, 2018 (TM App no. 2018-126535).

The mark was registered on May 16, 2022 (TM Reg no. 6556243) and published for post-grant opposition on May 24, 2022.


Opposition by Fritz Hansen A/S

Fritz Hansen A/S, renowned Danish manufacturer of Scandinavian-style furniture, took a partial opposition action against the “DROP” mark on July 26, 2022 and claimed cancellation of the opposed mark in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) of the Japan Trademark Law due to similarity to earlier IR no. 1258281 “THE DROP” for use on furniture in class 20 owned by the opponent.

Fitz Hasen argued “THE” is merely a definite article with no particular meaning for Japanese citizens with ordinary care. It commonly happens in Japan that consumers do not pay attention to definite article in the prefix where it is followed by other words. For example, “THE BEATLES” is called just as “BEATLES”. The Japanese title of the movie “The Lord of the Rings” does not include “THE”. Under the circumstance, relevant consumers would consider “DROP” as a prominent portion of the cited mark. Therefore, the opposed mark shall be similar to the cited mark. Besides, the goods “furniture” in class 20 is deemed similar to retail or wholesale services for furniture in class 35.

If so, the opposed mark should be canceled in relation to “retail or wholesale services for furniture” of class 35 under Article 4(1)(xi).


JPO decision

In the decision, the JPO Opposition Board mentioned “THE” is a definite article that functions to specify the following noun, however is usually not translated into Japanese. A basic English word “THE”, familiar among general public in Japan, is less distinctive as a source indicator per se. It is quite possible that relevant consumers and traders at the sight of the cited mark would highly focus on the term “DROP” of the cited mark.

Therefore, the Board has a reason to believe the cited mark gives rise to a pronunciation of “DROP” and a meaning ‘a small round-shaped amount of liquid’.

If so, the opposed mark has the same sound and concept with the cited mark.

A mere difference in appearance is insufficient to find dissimilarity of mark since the opposed mark consists of the same alphabets with “DROP” of the cited mark.

Also, the Board found “furniture” in class 20 shall be deemed similar to “retail or wholesale services for furniture” in class 35 by taking into consideration commercial channels, suppliers and consumers of respective goods and services.

Based on the foregoing, the Board sided with Fritz Hansen A/S and decided a partial cancellation of the opposed mark in relation to “retail or wholesale services for furniture”.

VOLVO Fails Trademark Opposition against VOLVOX

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed a trademark opposition filed by Volvo Trademark Holding AB against TM Reg no. 6602236 for the mark “VOLVOX” due to the dissimilarity of the mark and unlikelihood of confusion with “VOLVO”.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900449, Gazette issued date: June 30, 2023]

Opposed mark

The opposed mark (see below) was filed in the name of VOLVOX Co., Ltd. for use on advertising and publicity services in class 35 with JPO on March 4, 2022.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed mark on August 8, 2022, and published it for post-grant opposition on August 25, 2022.


Opposition by VOLVO

Volvo Trademark Holding AB filed an opposition against the opposed mark on October 25, 2022, before the lapse of a two-month statutory period counting from the publication date and claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(x), (xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing earlier TM Reg no. 4729933 for wordmark “VOLVO” in standard character covering advertising and publicity services in class 35 and others.

VOLVO argued the literal element of the opposed mark “VOLVOX” is confusingly similar to “VOLVO” from visual, aural, and conceptual points of view by taking account of the remarkable reputation of “VOLVO” as a source indicator of VOLVO cars. If so, it is likely that relevant consumers confuse a source of the service in question bearing the opposed mark with the opponent.


JPO decision

The Board admitted that the “VOLVO” mark has acquired a substantial degree of reputation and popularity as a source indicator of VOLVO cars among relevant consumers.

However, the Board negated the similarity between “VOLVO” and “VOLVOX” by stating:

“The opposed mark gives rise to a sound of ‘vol-voks’ and a meaning of ‘freshwater green algae of the genus’. In the meantime, the cited mark has the sound of ‘Volvo’ and the meaning of ‘brand name of automobiles manufactured and sold by VOLVO’. The difference arising from the presence of the letter “X” and figurative elements would be anything but visually negligible. Likewise, both marks are aurally distinguishable due to the difference in the number of sounds and sound structure. Conceptually, there is no doubt to cause confusion because of clear distinction in respective meaning.”

By taking into consideration a lower degree of similarity between the marks, the Board found that relevant consumers are unlikely to associate and confuse the opposed mark with VOLVO even when used on services in question.

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

VISA lost in a bid to oppose AIR VISA

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Visa International Service Association (VISA) against TM Reg no. 6512071 for the wordmark “AIRVISA” due to an unlikelihood of confusion with “VISA” in connection with goods and services of classes 9, 35, 39, and 42.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900159, decided on March 9, 2023]

AIR VISA

SmartHR, Inc. filed the wordmark “AIRVISA” in standard character for use on various goods and services in classes 9, 35, 39, and 42, inter alia, computer application software, personal management, application service of working visa and residence status, and SaaS with the JPO on July 29, 2021.

AIRVISA Inc., a subsidiary of SmartHR, provides services for Japanese companies to support online working visa applications and residence status management for their foreign workers.

The JPO granted protection of the AIR VISA mark on February 1, 2022, and subsequently, the mark was published for opposition on February 21, 2022.


Opposition by VISA

Visa International Service Association (VISA) filed an opposition on April 21, 2022, before the lapse of a two-month opposition period, and contended that the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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.

VISA argued relevant consumers would conceive of VISA’s famous service mark “VISA” at the sight of the opposed mark, consisting of “AIR” and “VISA” when used on its designated goods and services because of a remarkable degree of the reputation of the “VISA” mark and business circumstances that credit card companies provide application program for online payment service at present


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board admitted the famousness of the “VISA” mark in relation to the service of credit card services and electronic credit card transaction processing as a source indicator of the opponent based on substantial use since 1958 and a top market share of over 50% in Japan.

In the meantime, the Board questioned whether the “VISA” mark has become famous as a source indicator in connection with computer programs for online payment services from the produced evidence.

The Board considered the opposed mark “AIR VISA” shall be assessed in its entirety because of a tight combination of two words that is familiar to relevant consumers in Japan respectively. If so, both marks are dissimilar in the presence and absence of the term “AIR” from visual, phonetical, and conceptual points of view.

Bearing in mind that the term “VISA” is not a coined word, having its original meaning as an official mark, usually made in a passport, that allows one to enter or leave a particular country, the Board has a reason to believe that relevant consumers are unlikely to associate the goods and services in question bearing the opposed mark with VISA.

Based on the foregoing, the Board decided the opposed mark shall not be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) of the Trademark Law and dismissed the entire allegations by VISA.

Slim Chickens Fails to Secure Trademark in Japan

The JPO dismissed an opposition claimed by Slim Chickens Holdings LLC, a US fast-casual restaurant chain that specializes in chicken tenders and wings, against TM Reg no. 6524092 for the wordmark “Slim Chickens” on restaurant services in class 43.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900179, decided on February 16, 2023]

SLIM CHICKENS

Slim Chickens opened in 2003 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, US, with a focus on fresh, delicious food with a southern flair in a fast-casual setting. With more than 190 locations opened and a fanatical following in 30 U.S. states, as well as international locations in the United Kingdom, the eternally cool brand is an emerging national and international franchise leading the “better chicken” segment of fast-casual restaurants with a goal to grow over 600 restaurants over the next decade.


Opposition against TM Reg no. 6524092

Food Revamp Co., Ltd, a Japanese company, filed a trademark application for the word mark “Slim Chickens” in standard character for use on restaurant services in class 43 with the JPO on May 6, 2021.

The JPO admitted registration of the mark (TM Reg no. 6524092) on March 8, 2022, and published for opposition on March 16, 2022.

Slim Chickens Holdings LLC (SCH) filed an opposition with the JPO on May 2, 2022, and argued the mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law.

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.

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.


JPO Decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not find a high level of popularity of “Slim Chickens”, a US fast-casual restaurant chain, among relevant consumers in Japan as well as the US and other countries by stating:

It is admitted that SCH opened a restaurant in the U.S. in 2003, and the first Slim Chickens franchise in 2013. SCH restaurant chain was ranked third in the “Best Casual Restaurant” category in 2020. SCH has used the “Slim Chickens” mark on their business and restaurant chain that has been considerably introduced in US magazines and online news sites.

However, SCH did not produce sufficient evidence other than media coverage to suggest their business performance in US and UK.

Therefore, the Board has no reason to believe that the “Slim Chickens” mark has been widely recognized among consumers in the US and other countries as a source indicator of the SCH restaurant chain.

Even if SCH restaurant chain has achieved sales of USD120 million and about 135 stores in the US and 10 stores in the UK, taking account of the total sales (USD10.06 billion) and the number of stores in the US (9,630) of Dunkin’ Donuts, which is introduced on the same coverage with SCH, and 9 mega restaurant chains opens over 1,000 stores in Japan, it is doubtful if “Slim Chickens” has acquired a high level of recognition even among consumers in US and UK.

In Japan, although there are magazines and web pages introducing the “Slim Chickens” restaurant chain, the number of such magazines and web pages is merely 6 from July 2017 to April 2022, and above all, there is no fact that SCH has opened a restaurant in Japan. If so, there is no reason to consider the “Slim Chickens” mark is widely recognized among relevant consumers in Japan.

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

Failed trademark opposition by Volkswagen: POLO vs. QOLO

On December 28, 2022, the JPO Opposition Board dismissed the opposition claimed by German car giant Volkswagen AG against TM Reg no. 6512258 for the wordmark “Qolo” by finding dissimilarity to, and the unlikelihood of confusion with VW’s famous car model name “Polo” even when used in relation to automobiles.

[Opposition Case no. 2022-900157]

Opposed mark

Qolo Inc., a Japanese start-up company, filed a trademark application for the wordmark “Qolo” for various goods and services in classes 9, 10, 12, 20, 37, 42, and 44 including automobiles and repair, maintenance, and rental of cars on September 7, 2021.

The JPO granted protection of the opposed mark on February 10, 2022, and published it for registration on February 21, 2022.


Opposition by VW

Volkswagen AG filed an opposition against the opposed mark on April 19, 2022, before the lapse of a two-month statutory period counting from the publication date and claimed the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing VW’s earlier TM Reg no. 600030-2 for wordmark “POLO” on automobiles in class 12.

VW argued the opposed mark “Qolo” is deemed similar to “POLO” from visual and phonetical points of view. The opposed mark designates “electric vehicles; automobiles” in class 12, “repair and maintenance of automobiles; vehicle battery charging” in class 37, and “rental of automobiles, vehicles” in class 39 that are deemed identical or similar to automobiles.

In view of the remarkable reputation of VW POLO cars and the close resemblance between “Qolo” and “POLO”, it is highly likely that relevant consumers confuse a source of goods and services of the opposed mark when used on automobiles and its related services.


JPO decision

The Board admitted the famousness of the “POLO” mark as a source indicator of VW cars based on the facts that the Volkswagen Polo has been continuously imported to Japan since 1996 and ranked in the top 7 of imported automobiles for the past two decades.

However, the Board found “POLO” and “Qolo” are dissimilar in appearance and sound.

The difference in the first letter consisting of four letters in total would be anything but visually negligible. Likewise, the different pronunciation in the 1st sound consisting of two sounds in total gives rise to a distinctive impression.

By taking into consideration a lower degree of similarity between the marks and lack of originality for the term “POLO”, which means a game played on horseback between two teams, each of four players, the Board negated a likelihood of confusion between “POLO” and “Qolo” even when the opposed mark is used on goods and services in question.

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

Philippe Starck Lost Trademark Dispute over Starck

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition claimed by Philippe Starck, a French designer, against TM Reg no. 6487488 for the wordmark “Starck” due to the unlikelihood of confusion when used on management, leasing, rental, purchase, and sale of buildings, and real estate agency services in class 36.

[Opposition case no. 2022-900079, Decision date: December 5, 2022]

Opposed mark

Starck Co., Ltd., a Japanese company, sought trademark registration of the wordmark “starck” in standard character to be used on services related to real estate in class 36 on July 2, 2021.

Without raising any objections in the course of substantive examination, the JPO granted protection of the opposed mark on December 13, 3021, and subsequently published for post-grant opposition on January 13, 2022.


Opposition by Philippe Starck

Philip Starck, a French designer known for his wide range of designs, including everything from interior design to household objects and architecture, filed an opposition with the JPO on March 15, 2022, just before the lapse of a statutory period of two months counting from the publication date.

He argued the opposed mark shall be canceled in contravention of Article 4(1)(xv) and (xix) of the Japan Trademark Law in view of the high reputation of the term “Starch” as an indication of the opponent and close relatedness between the service in question and architectural design service.


JPO decision

The JPO Opposition Board did not admit the famousness of the mark “Starck” as a source indicator of the opponent’s design service from the produced evidence even though the Board found the mark has acquired a certain degree of recognition as a name of designer among relevant consumers.

Besides, the Board considered architectural design services shall be remotely associated with the management, leasing, rental, purchase, and sale of buildings, and real estate agency services in class 36.

If so, irrespective of the identical marks, the Board has no reason to believe relevant consumers would conceive of the opponent at a slight of the service in question using the opposed mark and confuse its source with the opponent.

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