Attention to pronunciation of trademark to be filed in Japan

By the way, “pronunciation” is very important for a trademark, right?
Yes, of course.

That’s because it is one of important elements to determine the scope of protection of a trademark.

As to such “pronunciation”, I have a topic I would like to talk to you today.
Ok, what?
Most foreign people file trademark applications in Japan for word marks made of “alphabets”.

However, do you always consider how average Japanese people would pronounce the trademark which you are filing?

What do you mean by that?
I would like to say “you need to pay attention to possible local pronunciation of the mark to be filed when filing a new application in Japan.”

Because it is possible that the pronunciation by Japanese customers is different from the intended one (“correct pronunciation”, in other words).

Scope of protection of a trademark in Japan shall be determined, taking such local pronunciation thereof in Japan into acount.
Accordingly, it is problem if the local pronunciation were different from your intended one.

Can you let me show an example?
For instance, there is the mark “Hanes” which is one of the famous apparel brands.

Although the correct pronunciation of this mark is “he-i-nn-zu”, a average Japanese may pronounce it as “ha-ne-su” if the mark is not known very well in Japan.

It means that others have a chance to obtain a registration of another mark pronounced as “he-i-nn-zu” even if you own a registration of the mark “Hanes”.
In this case, you should file an application for the Katakana character mark pronounced as “he-i-nn-zu” as well as one for the mark “Hanes”.

That’s why, I think it is dangerous to file a trademark application in Japan without considering local pronunciation.

I think so too.
I recommend you to consult a reliable Japanese patent attorney when you are filing a new trademark application in Japan, so that you can make appropriate trademark portfolios.


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株式会社Toreru/特許業務法人Toreru のCOO(最高執行責任者)兼パートナー弁理士。(一財)ブランド・マネージャー認定協会1級資格&認定トレーナー。日本ブランド経営学会運営委員。日本弁理士会所属。

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April 2009 - August 2012 株式会社アルバック 知的財産部 | ULVAC, Inc.

September 2012 - August 2018 秀和特許事務所 | IP Firm SHUWA

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