September 1, 2021

Trademark News

Abolishment of Signature & Seal – Affected by COVID-19

With the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19, and further improving the convenience of administrative procedures, the JPO has decided to partially abolish signature and seal on a wide variety of deeds and documents.

1. Background
Japan is the only country in the world that uses a seal registration system. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we found that this traditional seal system hampers teleworking in ordinary society. The ironical thing was that workers had to head to the office to press seals! Much the same is true on the IP field. It was mandatory to submit originals of Power of Attorneys, deeds, and other written documents with signature (for foreign nationals) or seal (for Japanese.) Surprisingly, the number of the kinds of procedures before the JPO that required such signatures and seals was 800!

2. Exception

Under the circumstances, the JPO abolished signature and seal for 767 procedures. In order to prevent counterfeiting, however, the following procedures remain subject to the requirement of original documents with a handwritten signature and registered seal. Electronic signatures and/or seals are still not accepted.

(1) Pending Application
a) Transfer of Pending Application
b) Change of Applicant's Name or Address

(2) Registered Rights
a) Transfer of Registration (due to Assignment, Merger, Succession, etc.)
b) Change of Owner's Name or Address
c) Recordal of Pledge, Use Right, Division of Right, etc.

3. Future
We believe this is good news especially for Madrid users, make no mistake. The JPO indicates their intention to continue discussions on this matter. Should you need any further information, please feel free to ask KUBOTA Trademark Team.

Written by: Ms. Chiaki Kato (Trademark Attorney)