Types of Trademarks in Japan: New Types of Trademarks, Regional Collective Trademarks, etc.

What are the various types of trademarks?

Are there different types of trademarks in Japan?

Yes, based on the nature of the trademark itself, there are word marks, device marks, three-dimensional marks, etc.
Also, since April 2015, “new types of trademarks” have become available for registration in Japan!

What kind of “new types of trademarks”?

There are also different types depending on the registration system.
Let’s take a look at what they are and what they are all about together!

目次 Index
    1. What are the various types of trademarks?
  1. Types according to the nature of the trademark
    1. Traditional Trademarks
    2. New Types of Trademarks
  2. Registration Systems
    1. Normal Trademark Registration System
    2. Collective Trademark Registration System
    3. Regional Collective Trademark Registration System
    4. Defensive Mark Registration System
  3. Summary

Types according to the nature of the trademark

Traditional Trademarks

The following five types of trademarks were originally available for registration.

Word marks

These are trademarks consisting solely of “characters or letters” such as hiragana, katakana, kanji, numbers, alphabets, etc.

Figurative marks

Trademarks are made up of pictures, figures, cartoon characters, logo characters, etc.

Symbolic marks

Symbols combining letters in a graphic form, monograms, symbolic emblems, etc.

Three-dimensional marks

A three-dimensional trademark is a trademark that is made up of three-dimensional shapes. Containers for products, character-shaped 3D signs, etc. are registered.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 4153602
Japanese Trademark Registration No. 4156315

Combined marks

Combined trademarks are trademarks that combine two or more elements, such as letters and characters with different meanings, words and figures, figures and symbols, letters, figures, and three-dimensional elements.

New Types of Trademarks

As of April 2015, the following five types of trademarks can be registered in Japan in addition to the five traditional types listed above.

Color per se marks

A trademark consisting “only of colors,” such as a single color or a combination of several colors.
If the trademark includes letters, figures, or symbols, it does not qualify as a “trademark consisting solely of colors.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 6534071

Sound marks

These are trademarks that are recognized by the “auditory sense,” such as music, voice, and natural sounds.
When filing an application, submit sheet music or sound data.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5804299
Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5805582

Motion marks

This is a trademark in which words, graphics, characters, etc. change over time.
This applies to moving logos such as those used in TV commercials.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5804316
Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5860064

Hologram marks

This is a trademark in which words, figures, etc. are changed by holography or other methods.
A trademark that appears in several different ways depending on the angle from which it is viewed is registered as a single trademark.
Examples of applications and registrations show that many of them are found on credit cards, gift certificates, etc.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5908592

Position Trademarks

A trademark that specifies the position of a word or graphic mark when it is attached to a product or other item.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5807881
Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5893970

Registration Systems

Normal Trademark Registration System

An individual, company, or organization decides which goods and services it will use (or intends to use) its trademark for and registers it.
Once a trademark is registered, the right holder obtains the exclusive right to use the trademark for the designated goods and services.

Collective Trademark Registration System

This system allows organizations whose members are business entities to register trademarks for use by their members.
In the normal trademark registration process, if the right holder or licensee does not use the trademark, the registration may be canceled by a third party. However, if the trademark is registered under the collective trademark registration system, the registration can be maintained even if the right holder himself does not use the trademark.

For example,

Japanese Trademark Registration No. 5341974

Regional Collective Trademark Registration System

This system was established to allow the earlier registration of character trademarks consisting of a combination of a regional name and a product (service) name in order to revitalize the regional economy through the protection of regional brands.

Word marks consisting of “the name of the region + the name of the goods (service)” are not eligible for registration unless they are highly known throughout Japan.
This is because such a trademark is inherently considered to have no distinctiveness.

Under the normal trademark registration system in Japan, the finding of “highly known throughout Japan” is very strict. It must be proven that the trademark has been in use in Japan for many years and has been seen by many consumers throughout Japan.
Therefore, trademark registration has been an extremely high hurdle for organizations and others who wish to sell agricultural products with names such as “local specialties”.

However, this system allows the registration of a word mark for “the name of the region + the name of the goods (service)” under conditions easier than those of the ordinary trademark registration system concerning name recognition.

Conditions for the registration system for Regional Collective Trademarks

  1. The application must be filed by a community-based organization.
  2. The trademark must be used by the members of the organization.
  3. There must be a connection between the name of the region and the goods (or the services).
  4. The trademark must be well-known among consumers in Japan.

The fourth is particularly important, and objective facts such as the sales volume of the goods or newspaper articles in which the goods are mentioned are required to prove this.
Even so, it is recognized as “well-known in Japan” with a lower degree of recognition than proving “highly known throughout Japan” as an ordinary trademark.

Reference: JPO HP Regional Collective Trademark System

Examples of Regional Collective Trademarks

You can find out what other trademarks have been registered as a Regional Collective Trademark by visiting the J-Plat Pat.

Defensive Mark Registration System

A well-known registered trademark can be registered as a defensive mark.
Defensive mark registration allows you to stop a third party from using a trademark on goods or services that are dissimilar to the goods or services for which the trademark was originally registered, as long as the trademarks are identical.

If a trademark identical to a registered trademark is used, consumers may be misled into believing that the goods or services are related to the registered trademark owner.
If the trademark is widely recognized by the public as indicating the goods or services of a particular trademark holder, even if it is used for goods or services that are dissimilar to those of the registered trademark.
Therefore, this system attempts to clarify in advance the extent to which misunderstandings (i.e., confusion of origin) may occur.


There are two types of trademarks: traditional trademarks and new types of trademarks, each of which includes the following

In addition to the usual registration systems, there are also the following

Ummm … there are so many types, I don’t know what to register!

Don’t worry, the first step is to register your trademark for words and figures under the ordinary registration system!

But it seems to be difficult to do the procedure and so on.

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That sounds like something I could do!
Okay, I’ll give it my best shot!

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Supervisor for the article:
大阪法務戦略部長 八谷 晃典
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