“Hirosaki”, Famous Apple Growing Region in Japan, Failed in Opposition of Chinese Trademark

A trademark application for “弘前 (pronounced “Hirosaki” in Japanese)” has been filed in China, and subsequently, the city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture filed an opposition against the mark becoming registered 2 years ago. Recently, the Chinese Trademark Office issued a decision to dismiss the city of Hirosaki’s opposition. The applicant who filed “弘前 (Hirosaki)” is an individual in Jiangsu, China, and filed for the trademark as goods related to food.

Under Chinese law, geographical indications from foreign countries which are generally known are not able to be registered as a trademark under the Trademark Act. However the Chinese Trade Mark Review and Adjudication Board held that Hirosaki was not famous enough to uphold the opposition. The Japan Patent Office has handled similar matters in Japan. For example, in an appeal against the examiner’s refusal, the trademark “MONTEREY” was allowed to register as a trademark for computers due to the fact that the geographical name “MONTEREY” was not sufficiently well-known in Japan domestically.