MONET DESIGN cannot be a trademark in Japan because of Claude Monet

Trademarks for names of famous historical persons can be really challenging for protection.

This was the case of a trademark application for the following sign in Japan for classes 16, 20, 25, 27, 35, 41, 42, and 45:

Against this application, an opposition was filed by the French organization ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS, owner of an international trademark for “CLAUDE MONET”.

The gound was article 4(1)(vii) of the Trademark Law in Japan which prohibits registration of signs likely to cause damage to the social and public interest and disrupt the order of fair competition. This covers the registration of names of popular or historical persons if some requirements are met.

According to the Japan Patent Office consumers in the country will recognize the word MONET in the mark applied for as one related to the famous French painter Claude Monet. ACADEMIE DES BEAUX-ARTS manages actively the property and paintings of Claude Monet which represents a cultural heritage for entire France.

From that perspective, the opposition was upheld.

Source:  Masaki Mikami – Marks IP Law Firm.