Friday, January 22, 2010

Royama loses right to use "Kyokushin-kan" name

On October 30th 2009, the Intellectual Property Rights Section of the Japanese High Court overruled a July 2008 decision by the Japanese Patent Office to allow the registration of the name “Karate-do Kyokushin-kan” (Royama’s group).
In its decision to allow the registration, the Patent Office had stated that the activities of a former student of the founder of Kyokushin Karate, Masutatsu Oyama, did not violate Japanese trademark law if they are deemed the same legal entity.
Under Japanese trademark law, any person or organization is prohibited from using a trademark that is too similar to an already existing and well-known trademark if they are a separate legal entity . In this case, the issue was whether the name “Kyokushin-kan” violated the rights of the Oyama family, the legal owner of the name “Kyokushinkaikan” and a number of variations.
Any name or mark that is well-known cannot be registered by any person or organization considered to be a separate legal entity. In their initial verdict, the Patent Office had said that the group registering the name ‘Kyokushin-kan” was continuing the activities of Kyokushin Karate and as former students of the Kyokushin Karate founder were not considered to be a separate legal entity.
High Court Judge Tetsuhiro Nakano rejected the Patent Office verdict, emphasizing the fact that Kyokushin-kan is clearly a separate legal entity to Kyokushinkaikan and as such their name registration is in violation of Japanese trademark law.
In his summing up, Judge Nakano said, "After Mr. Oyama's passing, his Kyokushinkaikan organization splintered into numerous groups. The Kyokushin group of the founder’s family and other splintered groups are not legally related.
“Therefore even a former student cannot register the Kyokushin name, despite any alterations, because they are deemed to be a separate legal entity. The words "Karate-do" and "Kan" are generic but “Kyokushin” is a private trademark and the created word of famous person.”
IKO Sosai Honbu, Front Office

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