Intellectual Property High Court Releases Decision on Mizuno Trademark Invalidation Suit

Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company, Mizuno Corporation, has been involved in an ongoing trademark registration dispute with the Chinese sportswear company, HongXing Erke Group over the similarity between the Erke symbol and Mizuno’s “Runbird” logo.

As part of this dispute, Mizuno filed for an invalidation trial. The trial board determined that the Erke trademark should not be invalidated. Mizuno appealed the decision to the Intellectual Property High Court (IP High Court) of Japan which is special branch of the Tokyo High Court and handles intellectual property related cases.

In September the IP High Court overturned the Trial Board’s decision not to invalidate Erke’s trademark registration. As part of the discussion, the IP High Court examined the look and outlines of the two trademarks, the recognizability of Mizuno’s (first in time) trademark, the circumstances surrounding actual transactions, and the likelihood of confusion between the marks. Based on their analysis of these factors, the IP High Court found that Erke’s trademark registration should be invalidated.

To read an abbreviated translation of the IP High Court’s decision please see the attached PDF.