Attention to pronunciation of trademark to be filed in Japan



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

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

Fumi
As to such “pronunciation”, I have a topic I would like to talk to you today.
Kuma
Ok, what?
Fumi
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?

Kuma
What do you mean by that?
Fumi
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.”

Why?
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.

Kuma
Yeah…
Can you let me show an example?
Fumi
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.

Kuma
I think so too.
Fumi
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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