Evaluation criteria for similarity of trademarks in Japan Vol.2 | Criteria presented by “Hyozan Jirushi Case” (Judgement by Supreme Court in Japan on 27 February in 1968)



Fumi
In the previous post, we talked about the basics of determining similarity of trademarks in Japan.

Evaluation criteria for similarity of trademarks in Japan Vol.1 | Pronunciation is important

2017.08.06
Kuma
It is determined by taking each similarity of appearance, pronunciation and meaning of trademarks into account.
And, similarity of “pronunciation” is very important in principle.
Fumi
Right.
Kuma
But, I think that there are some cases where “appearance” should be more important than “pronunciation”.

Important criteria presented by the supreme court in Japan

Fumi
Definitely there are.

Before discussing what they are, I would like to share with you very important criteria shown in the supreme court case in Japan called “Hyozan Jirushi Case”.

Fumi
In this case, the court presented the criteria to determine similarity of trademarks that is still a standard even now.
Fumi
That is:

  1. Similarity of trademarks to be compared should be determined by whether there is a likelihood of confusion as to origin of goods if the trademarks are used for identical/similar goods.
  2. To determine whether there is the likelihood, the followings should be taken into account as a whole:
    • Impressions, memories, associations and the like arising to consumers by appearance, meaning, pronunciation and the like of the trademarks
    • Actual state of transactions of the goods for which the trademarks are used
  3. Each similarity of apprearance, meaning and pronunciation of trademarks is just one of the elements to presume a likelihood of confusion as to origin of the goods. Therefore, the trademarks should be interpreted as dissimilar to each other in case that there is no likelihood of confusion because of the followings:
    • Fact that only one of the three elements is similar but the others are remarkably different
    • Actual state of transactions of the goods for which the trademarks are used

Trademarks are not always interpreted as similar even if the pronunciations thereof are similar

Kuma
Then, we could regard “appearance” as more important than “pronunciation” in some cases.
Fumi
I’m sure that trademarks are not always interpreted as similar even if the pronunciations thereof are similar.

However, similarity of pronunciation is enough to presume a likelihood of confusion in most cases.

So, to regard “appearance” as more important than “pronunciation”, any reasonable grounds to allow us to do so are needed.

Kuma
Reasonable grounds…it’s likely to be difficult to find that.

What is a concrete example for that?

Fumi
OK.
Let’s talk about that in the next!






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