Appeal decision report – Trademark “PPC” was allowed to be registered because appeal examiners did not find that “PPC” (abbreviation of “Personal Information Protection Commission”) was famous in Japan
August 17, 2020
|Appeal number||Rejection 2020-2213 (JP Appl. No. 2018-101758)|
|Case summary||Trademark “PPC” is allowed to be registered because it is not identical/similar to, a famous mark indicating the State, a local government, an agency thereof, a non-profit organization undertaking a business for public interest, or a non-profit enterprise undertaking a business for public interest.|
|Date of decision||June 8, 2020|
|Demandant (Applicant)||AMANO Corporation|
PPC (Standard characters)
|Designated Goods and Class(es)||Loading-unloading machines and apparatus, their parts and fittings; and others in class 7|
The appeal examiners did not find that the trademark “PPC” was famous in Japan as an indication of the “Personal Information Protection Commission”, (a council based on the Act on the Protection of Personal Information) or an abbreviation of the Commission at the time of filing and rendering a decision, although the applied-for trademark consists of the letters “PPC” in standard characters.
With the above in mind, it is unreasonable that traders and consumers would likely consider that the applied-for trademark indicates a famous abbreviation of the ”Personal Information Protection Commission” on the designated goods. In addition, it is unlikely that the authority of the Commission would be damaged even if the applicant uses and adopts the trademark.
Japanese trademark law provides that a trademark which is identical/similar to, a famous mark indicating the State, a local government, an agency thereof, a non-profit organization undertaking a business for public interest, or a non-profit enterprise undertaking a business for public interest cannot be registered. The purpose of the provision is to protect authority of these entities for public interest by preventing confusion.
The applicant received a rejection in which the examiner argued the applicant’s trademark should not be registerable since the applied-for trademark is identical to “PPC”, the abbreviation of the ”Personal Information Protection Commission.”
In response, the applicant cited the registered trademark (JP Reg. No. 5954609, JP Appl. No. 2016-108472, designated services: arranging, conducting and organization of seminars in Class 41) was filed and allowed to be registered after the Personal Information Protection Commission was set up in January 2016 in spite of a higher amount of overlap between the designated services in Class 41 and the Commission’s activities.
In addition, the applicant argued that the above provision should be applied to protect a famous mark and that the Personal Information Protection Commission and their abbreviation are not famous. Although, these arguments were not accepted at examination stage, they were accepted at the appeal stage, and the mark was allowed to be registered.