In June 2010, the International Affairs Division of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) released results of an investigation into trademark applications for Japanese place names filed by third parties having no relation to such places in China and Taiwan.
The registering of Japanese place names as trademarks is considered to be a risk for enterprises developing business in these countries. In order to combat this, the JPO, on 4th June 2008, announced "General Support Measures against Trademark Applications for Japanese Place Names by Third Parties in China and Taiwan."
From the investigation undertaken in March of this year, it was reported that the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the People's Republic of China (CTMO) refused applications for place names using seven prefectural names. Further, it was also reported that the CTMO canceled the trademarks using prefectural names which had previously been registered by third parties, indicating that trademark regulations are becoming more strict in China.
Certain place and company names may still, however, be at risk of registration by a third party in China or Taiwan. If you are an individual or business experiencing trademark issues, contact APA for assistance.
Source: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan)