On March 1st, 2017, the JPO announced to allow registration of color marks for the first time ever since commencement of Non-Traditional trademark application in April, 2015.
The trademark law of Japan protects sound marks, motion marks, position marks, hologram and color marks as well as traditional marks provided they meet all the other criteria for a valid trademark.
First color marks registration
The honor of first color marks registration went to (i) a three-color-combination mark in blue, white and black for goods of “erasers” in class 16 owned by Tombow Pencil Co., Ltd. and (ii) a seven-color-combination mark in white, orange, white, green, white, red and white for retail services in class 35 owned by Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd..
Tombow Pencil Co., Ltd. has used the three-color-marks on erasers and other stationery.
The seven-color-marks is a symbolic design representing well-known convenience store of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd.
According to the announcement from the JPO, 492 applications for color marks were filed since April, 2015 so far. Above color marks were both filed on the very beginning day of Non-Traditional trademark application. Taking into consideration of a six-month examination period on average for traditional marks, it has obviously spent substantial time even when it compares with other Non-Traditional marks. As of February 20, 2017, 110 sound marks are registered among 517 applications. 23 position marks are registered among 345 applications. 65 motion marks are registered among 123 applications.
It is anticipated that the JPO expedites to terminate examination for color marks in the months ahead.
MASAKI MIKAMI – Attorney at IP Law, JAPAN
Founder of MARKS IP LAW FIRM