The Japan Patent Office decided on the 16th that in order to strengthen the control on the import of counterfeit brand-name products and other imitation products, it will start to discuss the revision of the “Trademark Law” and the “Artisan Law” (or “Design Law”). This is in response to the surge in direct shipments from overseas merchants to individuals in the context of the popularity of e-commerce and online shopping. Not only imported by merchants, but also self-use commodities will also become objects of customs confiscation. This matter strives to be submitted to next year’s routine Congress.
A draft report on countermeasures against imitations was submitted and approved at an expert meeting held on the 16th. This is to prevent imitations from flowing into the country at the port, and to newly define that overseas merchants who ship goods infringe on trademark rights. Individuals who purchase goods will continue the current measures and will not be subject to punishment.
According to the current “Trademark Law” etc., if domestic businesses import or trade imitation products, criminal penalties will be applied on the grounds of infringement. On the other hand, self-use does not constitute infringement. Previously, domestic merchants had been seized of pretending to be individuals ordering through small international parcels, and urgent measures were needed.
There are more than 20,000 cases of customs infringing intellectual property rights to prevent imports each year, most of which are products from China. In 2019, if the market price of imitation products that were blocked from imports were estimated based on regular products, the total would amount to approximately 12.8 billion yen (approximately RMB 800 million).