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Japan to allow trademarks for sounds, moving images
Publication Date : 05-09-2013
The Japanese government has decided to introduce a new trademark registration system to enable businesses to register the sounds, moving images and colours that they use in their commercials as trademarks.
The United States, where a sense of entitlement regarding such creations as images and sounds has been growing, is calling on its trade partners with which Washington has concluded free trade agreements to adopt a new type of trademark protection system in line with that of the United States.
It is highly possible that the US-style trademark registration system will be adopted as part of the rules governing intellectual property rights when the negotiations on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral economic partnership agreement are concluded, according to government sources. In light of this situation, the government will pave the way to revising Japan's relevant legislation ahead of the conclusion of the talks.
The government plans to submit a bill to revise the Trademark Law to an extraordinary Diet session in autumn at the earliest, the sources said.
Under the current law, items other than those with a clearly defined visual form, such as characters and symbols, cannot be registered as trademarks.
In the United States, the melody that appears when Microsoft Corp.’s Windows series software for personal computers is started has been registered as a trademark.
In the planned revision of Japan’s trademark registration system, similar sounds and those used with corporate images in TV commercials will also be eligible for trademark registration, the sources explained.
The procedure for filing applications for trademark registration will also be changed, according to the sources.
The government will probably require applicant companies seeking trademark registration of sounds to submit sound files and scores.
Similar trademark registration systems have already been employed in many foreign countries in addition to the United States, such as member nations of the European Union, South Korea and Australia, where laws and regulations have been put in place for the enforcement of their systems. Japan would like to follow this trend, the sources noted.
Christian Louboutin, a luxury French shoe and bag designer brand, has had the particular shade of red used on the sole of the brand’s shoes for women trademarked in the United States.
The logo and theme music that appear together prior to the start of films of U.S. filmmaking company 20th Century-Fox Corp. have also been registered as a trademark.