Japan IP Rules Changing: Stricter Trademark Import Rules, Looser Late Filing Standards

Published: 04 Aug 2022

In 2021, the Japanese Diet (parliament) passed various amendments to intellectual property law. Two major changes were made, and this month, Prime Minister Kishida’s Cabinet issued executive ordinances to implement the amendments. Here is a summary of the two major changes–perhaps long needed, but “better late than never.”

October 1, 2022: Closing Loophole for Trademark Infringing Goods Imported by Third Parties

First, from October 1, 2022, the amendments to the Trademark Act will make it possible for Japanese officials to regulate trademark-infringing objects that are brought into Japan by mail carriers. It will doe this by including the carrying into Japan of such objects by means of third party carriers (such as mail services), not merely personal importation, as “import”—which was not a clear detail until now, leaving a loophole for importers of pirated goods to Japan.

The closing of this loophole will hopefully make it safer for trademark holders to wage fuller war against importers of pirated products and enable international holders of trademarks in Japan also to protect their IP more satisfactorily there.

Next April (2023): Reinstatement Policy Changes for Missed Deadlines!

Second, and possibly quite importantly for those who have missed filing deadlines for Patents, Utility Models, Designs, or Trademarks, the Japan Patent Office is to loosen its very strict requirements for a number of late filings (translation, priority claim, registration fee, etc.) from April 1, 2023.

The standard is to be conformed somewhat more to an “Unintentionality” standard instead of rigorous “Due Care,” perhaps opening the door for many more reinstatements (accepted late filings) by foreign applicants. We hope to share more details on the reinstatement policies closer to spring of 2023.

We hope for good implementation and an even better IP environment for our friends around the globe doing business and innovating in Japan.

* The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
** For questions or consultation, please contact us for more information.


Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.「特許法等の一部を改正する法律の一部の施行期日を定める政令」及び「特許法等関係手数料令の一部を改正する政令」が閣議決定されました [The cabinet has approved the ‘Ordinance determining some effective dates for partial amendments to the Patent Act, etc.’ and ‘Ordinance revising parts of the ordinance on Patent Act, etc. fees].” July 15, 2022. Accessed July 28, 2022.

Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.「特許法等の一部を改正する法律要綱 [Outline of partial amendments to Patent Act, etc.].” PDF. No date. Accessed July 25, 2022.

Header picture by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

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Taro Yaguchi

Firm: Keisen Associates
Country: Japan

Practice Area: IP Litigation

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