“Frank Miura,” a parody brand trademark that was overturned, was reinstated after its owner challenged the JPO’s invalidation of it. “Frank Miura” parodies the expensive Swiss watch brand “Franck Muller,” which sounds very similar when pronounced in Japanese. The watches themselves normally have outlandish features that demonstrate that they are parodies.
The JPO invalidated the trademark “Frank Miura” last September after Franck Muller had registered a complaint, but the Intellectual Property High Court overturned this decision in April 2016, commenting that “Most (Franck Muller) wristwatches are priced at more than 1 million yen ($9,259), so it is utterly inconceivable for them to be mixed up with the ‘Frank Miura’ line of products that cost only between 4,000 yen and 6,000 yen.” The parody watches, while some look similar to Franck Muller’s watches, have clearly written on them the name “Frank Miura” in Japanese characters, not in Latin characters.
Thus trademarks that are clearly differentiable from other brands, even as parodies that resemble in some ways, may be acceptable in Japan.
For details, see: The Asahi Shimbun’s article regarding the case.
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