The armchair's 3D trademark case

July 14, 2011

(Article 3(1)3, 3(2) of the Trademark Law) IP High Court Decision

Hei 22 (Gyo-ke) No.10253, No.10321 (June 29, 2011)

Disposition of JPO

The subject trademark is below. The designated goods: "armchairs".

The Japan Patent Office rejected the application for registration of the trademark on the grounds that the application fell under Article 3(1)3 and did not meet the requirements of Article 3(2) of the Trademark Law.


Is the armchair's 3D trademark distinctive enough for registration ?

Court Decision

The subject trademark shall be registered because it has acquired distinctiveness through a secondary meaning.

Brief introduction of reasoning

Article 3(1)3:
Though the shape of the trademark gives the customers the impression that it has an excellent design and function as an armchair, the trademark has been deemed to consist solely of a mark indicating shape of the goods in a common way, which means that the trademark has been deemed descriptive.

Article 3(2):
However, the trademark has been deemed to acquire distinctiveness through a secondary meaning on basis of the fact that the good has a characteristic shape which has been in the same configuration since 1950 and a big number of the goods have been sold by advertisement so that customers can identify the source of the good.

Other court decisions

There have been 28 court decisions so far which made judgments on the registerability of 3D trademarks, and among them only six decisions including the above one which affirmed the registerability of 3D trademarks:

Hei18(Gyo-ke)No.10555 (June 27, 2007)
The designated goods: Pocket search lights
 -Acquisition of secondary meaning proved

Hei19(Gyo-ke)No.10215 (May 29, 2008)
The designated goods: Cola drinks
 -Acquisition of secondary meaning proved

Hei19(Gyo-ke)No.10293 (June 30, 2008)
The designated goods: Chocolateļ¼Œpralines

Hei22(Gyo-ke)No.10169 (November 16, 2010)
The designated goods: Lactic acid bacteria drinks
 -Acquisition of secondary meaning proved

Hei22(Gyo-ke)No.10366 (April 21, 2011)
The designated goods: beauty products (cosmetics), soaps, perfumery, cosmetics
 -Acquisition of secondary meaning proved

End of report

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