"Reiwa", the new Japanese era was announced on May 1, 2019 marking the 126th accession to the throne by Naruhito, son of Emperor Akihito. Reiwa is interpreted as beautiful harmony or a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully.

*The image represents the launch of the "Reiwa" Era and has been used for reference purposes only. We claim no copyright over any aspect of the image

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) revised its guidelines which clearly stated that – era names cannot be used as Trademarks. The JPO faced this issue back in 1989, when the previous era, i.e. the Heisei Era was announced. The Office was flooded with trademark applications at the time and this has led the office to believe that a similar situation is likely to arise with the announcement of the 'Reiwa' era. Under previous guidelines issued, era names could be registered as trademarks, except Heisei. However, the revised guidelines ensure that trademarks do not feature any era name in principle, cannot be used for trademarks.

However, even after the release of the guideline, about 48 applications related to "Reiwa" were filed at the Japan Patent Office within three days of the announcement of the new era name. However, all of these are likely to the rejected.

Making the most of the situation, over 1,200 trademark applications have been filed for "Reiwa" related trademarks in China within a month after announcement of the new era. As per search results of the China's Trademarks Office site, there was only one application in the name of Reiwa, filed in 2017 as opposed to the rise in number on present day displays a clear attempt by the Applicants to make the most of the new name. There are also multiple similar terms such as "Reiwa tenka", "Reiwado," "Reiwaya", "Reiwa beef" and "Reiwa hall" filed across multiple classes for a range of goods/services. The Chinese Authorities are still considering whether or not to grant registrations to such filings.

Compiled by: Adv. Sachi Kapoor | Concept & Edited by: Dr. Mohan Dewan

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