IX. Protection of Intellectual Property

The importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is the general name used to refer to the right of owning ideas, designs, know-how, brand names and other non-physical properties. Below is a detailed classification.

Type Protected property Concrete example Screening Term of protections
 Intellectual Property  Industrial Property Rights Patent


Creative new idea Automobile’s engine, POS system, smartphone’s battery, etc. Yes 20 years from application
Utility Model (New utility) New ideas (shape/structure/mechanism) Smartphone shape (fits easily in hand), knife with a hole ( makes it harder for the cut object to stick to it ) No 10 years from application
Design Design of the shape/pattern of a product Design of the shape of a smartphone, shape/pattern of stationary goods, clothes design, etc. Yes 20 years from registration
Trademarks Brand name of services and products Product’s name, logo, Emblem, company name, etc. Yes


10 years from registration, can be renewed as many times as desired
 Others Copyrights Artistic, literary, academic creations Movies, music, novels, computer programs, etc. No 50 years after disclosure (70 years for movies)
Trade name Corporate name XX. Co.ltd Yes No limit
Products Display Ways of differentiating one’s product from the rest (trade name, product name etc.) Universally known/celebrated product names, logo, packaging No No limit
Trade secret Secret information Technological information kept secret, information needed for business (client list), etc. No No limit

(permanent as long as it stays a secret)

※There are also other types of rights, like mask work rights (about circuit arrangement in a semiconductor)

Cases of Intellectual Property related troubles
~ why protection is necessary~

Case 1

Mr. A, an American, started a company named ABC Corporation in Tokyo, engaged in furniture import business.

The products imported by Mr. A are of very good design and then just when profits are steadily increasing, a company in Osaka named ABC Co.ltd files a complaint that its right as trademark owner has been violated by Mr. A.

Despite the trade name being correctly registered, how could this happen?


Trade name and Trademark are two different intellectuals’ properties. Even if you were able register your company under the corporate name you chose, you need to make sure it does not violate any trademark right.

As long as the trade name is used to specify the distribution source, the manufacturing source, there might be no conflict. But if Mr. A isolates just ABC and puts an emphasis on it, the risks for a violation of rights become greater.

In particular, if you are going to bet on your trade name, brand name, you need to make sure that no other entity has registered a similar trademark name before choosing one. If it has no precedent, you should consider registering it as yours.

If you decide to do so, you need to clarify what products and services, and what name you are looking to protect as your properties. For instance, if ABC Co.ltd had registered its rights on stationary rather than furniture, it would not have been a violation. Even if a similar trademark has been registered, verify that there is no collision with the contents of that right, and if after all there are none, go ahead and register it as yours.

Finally, in case if ABC was a well-known brand name of ABC Co.ltd, this could have been a violation of the Act against Unfair Competition. Hence why you need to choose the name for your products, services or company very deliberately.


Case 2

Mr. B, who is Chinese, set up a paint selling business in Japan. The paint is made, using technology that allows it to dry quicker, and it will manufactured in Chinese factories. He has already registered his patent right in China. A year after Mr. B has started his business, a Japanese company starts selling a product offering the same features. After purchase and analysis of the second product, it is found out that they both are made of the same components. Can Mr. B make the Japanese company stop selling their paint?


Patent, Utility model, design, and trademark are property rights hold within a country. Just because Mr. B is the patent right holder in China does not make him the automatic holder in Japan as well and he should have been cautious.

Once the patent has been registered in China, its content is made public, thus why Mr. B cannot obtain a patent in Japan about the exact same technology. If he wants to be the patent holder in Japan as well, he will need to make slight improvements to the production process.

For instance, for a year starting from the first of registration in China, there is a system that grants him priority right. If he uses this right and apply for the patent right of the same technology outside of China, for example in Japan, the reference for novelty will be the day of registration in China. If you have plans to associate expansion plans in Japan and affairs in your country, it is advised that you protect your intellectual property rights in Japan as soon as possible.