Industry minister Yukio Edano lashed out March 13 at Chinese companies that try to capitalize on Japanese brand name recognition by applying to register product trademarks that bear a striking similarity.
"It is a very serious situation," Edano said. "If the trademarks are accepted (in China), I want to say (to China), 'Don’t you have any pride as a nation?'"
He made the comment during an Upper House Budget Committee meeting in response to a question from Toshiro Tomochika, a ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker.
Tomochika had referred to "Aomori," "Matsusakaushi" and "Imabari Towel" as examples when asking his question.
In the case of Aomori, the northern prefecture of the same name and the largest apple producing center in Japan, a Chinese character that resembles the kanji for "mori" is used by a Chinese company with an apple design in addition to the same character for "ao."
In the case of "Matsusakaushi," by which prime beef in Japan is known, the Chinese for "matsu" and "ushi" are the same as the Japanese kanji characters for those words. Also, the character for "saka" is similar.
In the case of "Imabari Towel," the brand name for luxurious linen in Japan, a design that combines a circle and three lines vertically is used to denote the product that was manufactured in Japan. In China, a similar design is used horizontally. A Chinese company has already applied to register the trademark.
In the Budget Committee meeting, Edano said: "We have made representations to Chinese authorities to strictly check applications (for trademarks). Their attitude seems to be changing ever so slightly."
Nobutaka Tsutsui, a senior vice farm minister, noted at the meeting: "In the case of Aomori, objections (from Japan) were accepted (in China). The registration of Matsusakaushi was not approved (in China). As for Imabari Towel, I hear that objections have been filed (with the Chinese authorities)."
The trademark registration issue recently hit headlines around the world after a Chinese company filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., claiming it has trademark rights to "iPad," the name of the U.S. computer giant's popular tablet device.
There have been other cases in which Chinese companies have registered popular overseas trademark or brand names even when they have no intention of using them.
They apparently applied for the registrations with the intention of earning money by selling their rights to the trademarks.
"Japan is an easy target (in such cases) because it uses kanji (literally Chinese character)," Tomochika said.
"We (the Japanese government) are positively tackling the cases that have taken place in China," Tsutsui said.
- « Prev
- Next »