Post-Grant Opposition and Trials
Any party may file an opposition within two months of the publication of a trademark registration. If a reason to cancel the registration is found, the trademark owner will be given an opportunity to respond. If the opposition was limited to a part of the designated goods or services, only the classes representing those goods or services can be cancelled.
Trials include those for invalidating trademark registration and cancelling trademark registration to avoid confusion over source of the goods or services. A body consisting of three or five trial examiners handles the trials and either party may appeal the decision of the trial examiners to the IP High Court.
If a cancellation of the trademark is filed, the trademark owner must prove the use or a justifiable reason for non-use of the mark. It is sufficient to prove the use by a licensee or the use of a slightly different trademark consisting of the same characters in a different style or different characters having the same pronunciation and concept. For example, a trademark of Romanized characters is considered to be in use, if a trademark of Japanese Katakana syllables having the same pronunciation and concept is used.
Assignment and Licensing
A registered trademark or trademark application may be assigned for one or more of the specified goods or services. Except in cases of inheritance or other general succession, the transfer of a registered trademark is not effective against a third party until recorded.
A licensee may not transfer the exclusive license nor grant a non-exclusive license to another without permission of the trademark owner. However, if a related business is transferred concurrently with the mark (e.g., as in the sale of a business), the exclusive license may be transferred without separate permission from the trademark owner.
Prior use of an unregistered trademark does not confer an exclusive right to use the mark. However, a person who has been using a well-known trademark in Japan prior to the application date of the registered trademark may continue to use the trademark.
The term of protection is 10 years from registration. A request for renewal may be filed within six months before the expiration without a surcharge and within six months after the expiration with 100% surcharge.