According to the Japanese trademark Law Article 4(1)(10) and (11), the following trademark is unregistrable.
- (10) Trademark which is identical with, or similar to, another party’s trademark which is well known to
- (11) Trademark which is identical or similar to prior registered trademark
When determining similarity between trademarks, three factores which are appearance, sound and idea are considered. A primary factor is the sound of the trademark. If components of two trademarks are similar to each other, they are similar in appearance. When pronunciations of two trademarks are close for Japanese speakers, they are similar in sound. When meanings of two trademarks is similar, they are similar in idea.
The similarity between goods or services is determined by the following step. The Japan Patent Office adopts the Nice International Classification in which all goods or services are classified into groups. The groups have codes for determining the similarity. When the codes of the designated goods are the same, the goods are similar. The examining division determines the codes for the trademark when it is filed with the Japan Patent Office. Usually a single application has a number of the codes assigned by the examining division.