is the founder of MARKS IP Law Firm, a Japanese law firm providing big-firm level of service with the nimbleness and individualized attention and responsiveness that boutique firms are known for. He is a seasoned IP attorney with extensive experience in trademark law practice, and provides trademark legal services to individuals and businesses. Mr. Masaki is a qualified IP attorney in Japan, and is registered to practice as IP litigator since 2004.
In a recent trademark opposition, the Opposition Board of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition by Mattel, Inc. – maker of the world-famous Barbie doll – who claimed “Salon BARBIES” is likely to cause confusion or association with famous Barbie doll when used on restaurant and fan club services.
The Swiss watchmaker Swatch’s effort to acquire the trademark for “SWATCH ONE MORE THING” has run in to opposition from Apple, which argues the phrase ‘one more thing’ is closely associated with the software giant’s founder Steve Jobs. During Apple press events, Jobs was known to precede new product announcements and introductions with the phrase “there is one more thing” in his keynote addresses. The “one more thing” prelude became a fixture at Apple events… Immediately after the JPO granted protection to the trademark, Apple filed an opposition in May 19, 2015 on the grounds that the trademark violates the main paragraph of Article 3(1) as well as 4(1)(vii), 4(1)(x), 4(1)(xv), and 4(1)(xix) of Japanese Trademark Law.
At an initial examination proceeding, JPO examiner refused the trademark with respect to all goods in class 9 on the grounds that consumers can easily perceive or conceive the late Whitney Houston, an American famous singer from the applied mark “WHITNEY HOUSTON” written in a common font design. Besides, in a business to deal with music recordings, the title of a song or an album as well as name of performer or player are routinely indicated on goods or packages to show contents of it. Therefore, relevant consumers and traders at a sight of the applied mark used on designated goods in class 9 are just likely to conceive the goods contains music or performance by the late Whitney Houston. If so, IR no. 1204044 is subject to refusal based on Article 3(1)(iii) of the Trademark Law. Furthermore, when the applied mark is used on music recordings unrelated to Whitney Houston, consumers will surely be in trouble since they expect the goods contains song or performance of the late Whitney Houston. If so, it should be refused for registration based on Article 4(1)(xvi) due to misconception of quality of goods.
The Appeal Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) has reversed an initial decision by JPO examiner to refuse the mark “GOTHAM CITY” with a logo, and ordered to grant protection for the mark by decision of March 14, 2017 [Appeal case no. 2016-9140]. The JPO decision states that consumers are unlikely to confuse or associate the mark “GOTHAM CITY” with Batman’s place of residence and DC Comics when used on apparel, bags and fashion accessories.