Can a foreigner get a Japanese patent/trademark registration?  How to check the conditions?

I’m a US citizen, but I want to apply for a trademark in Japan.
Is there any legal problem? I’m having a hard time finding information.
No problem.
If you meet a few requirements, you can apply for a patent or trademark in Japan even if you are a foreign national.

This page will guide you through the grounds and precautions for a foreign (non-Japanese) individual or corporation to file a trademark or other application with the Japanese Patent Office.

When a foreign national can obtain a Japanese patent or trademark registration

The following are the cases in which a foreign national or foreign corporation can obtain a Japanese patent or trademark registration.
The same applies not only to patent and trademark registrations but also to utility model and design registrations.

  1. Cases in which the company is based in Japan
  1. Cases recognized by treaties
  1. Cases recognized on a reciprocal basis
I don’t quite understand “reciprocal basis”, it’s so hard to understand.
In most cases, 1 and 2 apply, so don’t worry about 3.
I will explain later how to deal with cases where 1 and 2 do not apply.

How to find out if a country is a signatory to a treaty

The most common “treaties” are the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the TRIPS Agreement.
So, first, check if your country is a member of these international treaties.

Paris Convention

A list of member countries of the Paris Convention can be found on the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) website.
https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/treaties/ShowResults?search_what=C&treaty_id=2

So the United States is a signatory to the Paris Convention, so any US citizedn or US company with no address or place of business in Japan can file a trademark application in Japan!

TRIPS Agreement

A list of member countries of the TRIPS Agreement can be found on the WTO (World Trade Organization) website.
https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/amendment_e.htm

Taiwan is not recognized by Japan as a country, but as a member of TRIPS as Chinese Taipei, it is possible to file an application to Japan.
In this case, “Taiwan” (台湾) should also be indicated in the Address or Residence section of the application form. (Formality Examination Manual 11.54)

Systematic Basis for Foreign Nationals to Obtain a Japanese Patent or Trademark Registration

The grounds on which a foreign national may obtain a Japanese patent or trademark registration are stipulated in Article 25 of the Patent Law.
Various intellectual property laws such as the Utility Model Law, Design Law, and Trademark Law also apply mutatis mutandis.

(Enjoyment of Rights by Foreign Nationals)
Article 25 A foreign national not domiciled or resident in Japan (or it is a corporation, without a business office in Japan) may not enjoy a patent nor rights or other rights under a patent, except in the following items:
(i)the country of the foreign national allows Japanese nationals the enjoyment of a patent right or other rights relating to a patent based on the same conditions as for its own nationals;
(ii)If the country of the foreign national has decided to allow Japanese nationals the enjoyment of patent rights or other rights under patents based on the same conditions as for its own nationals so long as Japan allows nationals of that country the enjoyment of patent rights or other rights under patents; or
(iii)when otherwise provided by a treaty.

Patent Act (translation by Japanese Law Translation)

Precautions for Foreigners Filing Trademark Applications in Japan

Below are some points to note about the application procedures for each case.

If the applicant have a domicile or residence in Japan

There is no section for nationality in the application for trademark registration.
If you have a domicile or residence in Japan, there is no problem if you write your domicile in Japan in the [Address or Residence] 【住所又は居所】 field.
Even if you are stateless, you may file an application if you have a domicile, residence, or business office in Japan (Formality Examination Manual 01.60).

If the applicant do not have a domicile or residence in Japan, but have a business office in Japan

If you do not have a domicile or residence in Japan but have a business office in Japan, you may file a trademark application if you have a domicile or residence in Japan (Formality Examination Manual 01.60).

If the applicant has no domicile, residence, or business office in Japan

A common precaution in cases where there is no domicile, residence, or business office in Japan is that a domestic agent is required (Patent Law, Article 8). (This is true even if you are a Japanese citizen.)
You should request a patent firm or patent attorney in Japan to file your application.

If your country is a member of the Paris Convention, TRIPS, etc.

In this case, there is no problem if you write your address or residence in your country in the [Address or Residence] 【住所又は居所】 field.
If the applicant does not have a domicile or residence in a member state, a field for [Place of business] 【営業所】 should be created and the domicile or residence within the member state should be written there.
However, if you cannot tell whether the applicant is an individual or a corporation just by looking at the applicant’s name, create a column for [Legal Nature of Corporation] 【法人の法的性質】 and state “Corporation under the laws of country XXX”.

If there is no relevant treaty between your country and Japan

In this case, submit a document certifying that reciprocity has been taken between your country and Japan.
(This may be submitted after the application is filed, together with an argument.)

If the certificate was submitted in a previous JPO examination, etc., it will, in principle, apply.
Ethiopia or the British Cayman Islands, for example, do not require the submission of a certificate of reciprocity because of the existence of previous certificates (Formality Examination Manual 01.23).

If you need help with filing a trademark application from a foreign country to Japan, Amazing DX is here to help!

As described above, there are various procedural points to be considered when a foreign national files an application in Japan.
In addition, if you do not have a domicile, residence, or business office in Japan, you will need to go through a domestic agent.

Amazing DX is represented by HARAKENZO WORLD PATENT & TRADEMARK, a leading Japanese patent firm.
We have extensive experience in handling intellectual property rights for foreign companies, so we can provide high-quality services.
Please feel free to contact us (consultations by telephone are also possible).

Would you like to learn more about Amazing DX, a service that will take care of everything from online trademark searches to filing and post-application management?

\Click Here! /

supervisor
Supervisor for the article:
HARAKENZO WORLD PATENT & TRADEMARK
大阪法務戦略部長 八谷 晃典
, , ,

Let's start,
an easy trademark application in Japan!

For those who are worried about registering a trademark for the first time, we offer free advice tailored to your situation.