May 31, 2019

Trademark News

JPO introduces Fast Track Examination to national trademark applications on trial basis

Starting from October 1, 2018, the Japan Patent Office ("JPO"), has introduced a fast track examination ("Fast Track Examination") on a trial basis, where applicants can receive the first examination results about two months earlier than regular examinations.

The Fast Track Examination does not require any special petition or extra fee. National trademark applications filed on or after October 1, 2018 that satisfy both of the requirements described below will be automatically subject to the Fast Track Examination.
  • A trademark application shall designate only the goods and services listed in (a) the Examination Guidelines for Similar Goods and Services, (b) Regulation for Enforcement of the Trademark Act, or (c) International Classification of Goods and Services (Nice Classification) at the time of filing ; and
  • No amendment of the designated goods or services shall have been made until the start of substantive examination.

Even in a case where the difference in indication between the designated goods or services of a trademark application and those listed in the above guidelines, etc. is slight, the application shall be ineligible for the Fast Track Examination. For example, in the Examination Guidelines for Similar Goods and Services, the services "arranging, conducting and organization of seminars" are listed. If an application designates "arranging, conducting of seminars," it shall be ineligible.
In addition, trademark applications for non-traditional trademarks (color marks, sound marks, position marks, hologram marks and motion marks) and those filed via the Madrid Protocol are excluded from the scope of the Fast Track Examination.
Recently, we have seen some delay in trademark examination by the JPO. According to the JPO's website, as of March 2019, it takes around 9 to 11 months from filing an application to start the regular examination. The Fast Track Examination will contribute, though partially, to the speed-up of trademark examination.