How to register a trademark in Japan without using an agency (as a foreign company)

By | 2018/05/05

It must be quite complicated, if you try to imagine the procedure of trademark registration.

Not even to mention that it’s to register a trademark in Japan.

(Knowing Japanese is a basic condition to do the application procedure)


The common process of trademark registration

Basically, most countries share similar process in trademark registration, and here are the basic steps:

  • Investigate the existence of similar trademarks
  • Apply for trademark registration
  • Wait for examination and reply to correspondent questions
  • Trademark registration


The trademark registration process in EU is similar and all procedure can be done online, which makes it much easier and more convenient than to do it in Japan.

Then, here in this article I will explain how I did to register a trademark in Japan as a foreign company without using an agency.





Representative in Japan for a foreign company

If your foreign company doesn’t have a branch or an office in Japan, your foreign company is not allowed to apply for a trademark in Japan directly.

As a result, your foreign company needs a person who lives in Japan to be the representative for trademark application for your company in Japan.



In my case, my company is a Finnish company, and I personally don’t own an address in Japan, so I can only ask a Japanese friend who lives in Japan to be the representative of trademark application for my company.

This representative only means the person who helps handle with the trademark application process in Japan, and doesn’t mean any special rights or responsibilities.



Anyone who lives in Japan can be a representative.




Designate representative

In my case (as the CEO of a foreign company), I personally did most of the processes, including producing the documents, calling Japan Patent Office or writing emails for this Japanese trademark application.

My representative only has his name on the document as a representative and has to affix his/her name stamp on the documents before sending.


It’s quite easy to designate a representative for your trademark application. You just need to produce a paper document, print and send it to Japan Patent Office.

Much easier, you can designate your representative on the same document of Japan trademark application.


By the way, all documents from Japan Patent Office will be sent to your representative in Japan. Your representative also has to pay for the digitization fee of the paper documents.




The advantages to use a patent attorney to help you register Japanese trademark

Before describing how I register a Japanese trademark, it may be better to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using a patent attorney for Japanese trademark registration.



The most important advantage to use a patent attorney is risk control.

There are several potential risk in the trademark application process.



Miss similar trademarks in trademark investigation

The most significant potential in trademark registration application is the existence of similar trademarks.

Trademarks that are similar in pronunciation, Kanji, katakana, alphabets are all similar trademarks.

The more existing similar trademarks there are, the higher possibility that your application will fail.

Since patent attorney has related experience and skills, by using a patent attorney to help you, the risk of missing similar trademarks in trademark investigation is expected to be lower.



Mistakes in document preparation

Although the trademark registration application procedure in Japan has been digitized and can be done online, the online platform is designed for those who will frequently apply for trademark registration, such as patent attorneys.

It’s quite troublesome and takes fee to apply for an account for online system.

Therefore, as an applicant who will only apply for one single trademark, I decided to go through paper-based procedure.



However, the problem of paper-based procedure is that it’s quite easy to make mistakes while producing paper documents.

The format of paper-based documents is strictly decided and even a very small difference from the format can be considered as a mistake and then you will need to produce another document called “Correction Document” and print, send it to Japan Patent Office to correct the format mistake.

And if ,again, there are some mistakes on the correction document, then you will have to produce a second correct document to correct the mistake on first correction document.

If you use patent attorney, then this kind of risk will be minimized.


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