JPO permits registration of trademark “Re+Cell” by denying similarity to a word mark “ReCell”

In a dispute over trademark similarity between “Re+Cell” and “ReCell”, the Appeal Board of Japan Patent Office (JPO) determined both marks are dissimilar in visual, phonetical, and conceptual point of view.

Re+Cell vs. ReCell

The mark in dispute, consisting of the letters “Re” and “Cell” locating “+” in between, was applied for registration on July 22, 2015 by designating goods of cosmetics (class 3) in the end.

JPO examiner refused the applied mark on the grounds of conflict with a senior trademark registration no. 5661464 for word mark “ReCell” in standard character covering goods of cosmetics, soaps, flagrances (class 3) and dietary supplements (class 5), effectively registered since April 4, 2014.Applicant filed an appeal against the refusal and contended dissimilarity of the marks.


Appeal Board ruled in favor of applicant based on the following factual findings.

  1. Applied mark gives rise to a pronunciation of “ri-purasu-seru” or “re-puresu-seru” from appearance, but no specific meaning in its entirety.
  2. Cited mark gives rise to a pronunciation of “ri-seru” or “re-seru”. Respective term composing the mark means “microscopic structure containing nuclear and cytoplasmic material” and “a prefix used with the meaning ‘again’”, however, concept of the mark is unspecified as a whole.
  3. From appearance, both marks are sufficiently distinguishable due to presence or absence of “+”.
  4. Sound of both marks is clearly dissimilar in view of nature and number of the tone.
  5. As long as no specific meaning is conceived from both marks, the marks are conceptually dissimilar.

As a consequence, applied mark is deemed dissimilar to the cited mark and the Board withdrew the refusal. [Appeal case no. 2016-16102]

Masaki MIKAMI, Attorney at IP Law – Founder of MARKS IP LAW FIRM


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