Any characters, figures, signs, or three-dimensional shapes, or any combination thereof, or any combination thereof with colors, can be registered as a trademark. Color, sound and smell cannot be registered as trademarks. A word mark which is comprised of texts only such as alphabet, numerals, and Chinese characters can be filed as a simple text trademark.
A definition of a trademark which can be filed with a trademark application is:
Article 2 (Definitions, etc.)
(1) “Trademark” in this Act means any character(s), figure(s), sign(s) or three-dimensional shape(s), or any combination thereof, or any combination thereof with colors (hereinafter referred to as a “mark”) which is:
(i) used in connection with the goods of a person who produces, certifies or assigns the goods as a business; or
(ii) used in connection with the services of a person who provides or certifies the services as a business (except those provided for in the preceding item).
For filing of the trademark application, the trademark need not be necessarily used but an applicant needs to have an intention to use the trademark. When the registered trademark is not used within three years in Japan, a third part can request cancellation based on non-use of the trademark (Art. 50).