Expanding overseas means expanding our products and services overseas. This is an opportunity to expand our business, and at the same time, there are risks. Especially for intellectual property, careful research is necessary in advance.
What are the risks of intellectual property in overseas development?
Overseas markets are becoming increasingly important in Japan. While some companies are finding their way into attractive overseas markets, there are also issues such as intellectual property rights. Many people may be aware of the current situation of counterfeit or copied Japanese products circulating in neighboring countries such as Southeast Asia.
One example is Oedo Onsen Monogatari, a hot spring facility in Shanghai. This is an issue that Oedo Onsen Monogatari, the head family of Japan, protested against the opening of Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Shanghai. The Shanghai company claims it has signed a license agreement, but Japanese Onsen Monogatari has denied it.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Japan is registered as a trademark of “”Oedo Onsen Monogatari”” in Japan. However, based on this, can I claim against the management company of Shanghai not to use the name? The issue of intellectual property rights such as trademarks is called territorial principle and is judged by the laws of the country where protection of rights is sought. In other words, even if a trademark is registered in Japan, it cannot be claimed overseas.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be direct damage even if counterfeits and copies are circulated in Japan. However, even though we are planning to expand our business overseas, the fact that our intellectual property rights have been stolen ahead of our competitors overseas has led to problems in which we have to give up the idea of expanding our business overseas.
In malicious cases, some companies have been ordered to pay compensation for infringement of their patent rights after they filed patent applications without permission after consulting local consultants about know-how and technologies.
What is Intellectual Property?
In the first place, intellectual property rights are properties that do not have a form created by human wisdom. The lack of form means that anyone who hears the idea can copy it. But if ideas that cost money and money are copied, efforts are not rewarded. This led to the creation of a system to protect intellectual property as a right.
Intellectual property related to industry includes patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, and trademark rights. The right arises when these are applied to the Patent Office, examined and registered.
Let’s take a closer look at patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, and trademark rights. First of all, patent rights are the rights given to inventions that contribute to the development of industry. Utility model rights are similar, but the subject of protection is “”Device relating to the shape, structure or combination of articles””. It is a system that can be easily protected earlier than the patent system.
A design right is an intellectual property right when a design is newly created. Design means “”The shape, patterns or colors, or any combination thereof, of an article, which creates an aesthetic impression through the eye”” (Article 2 of the Design Act). Finally, trademark rights are related to the marks (identification marker) and naming used to distinguish the goods and services handled by a business from those of other companies.
To obtain protection of intellectual property rights overseas, each country must follow its own system. In other words, if there are many countries that are going to expand their business, you need to go through the necessary procedures for that number. However, you may be able to use a system that simplifies the procedure, so you should consult an expert.
What intellectual property rights are applied for when expanding overseas?
When expanding overseas, it is necessary to protect intellectual property rights in the host country. What is important is to choose one that suits your overseas business and purpose. For example, it is common to obtain a patent if a technology is strong and to obtain a trademark if a brand is strong.
In addition, consider how to exploit intellectual property rights. It depends on whether you are making money by licensing or using it as a tool to show the superiority of products and technologies.
It also costs to acquire intellectual property rights overseas. Be sure to weigh the costs of obtaining and maintaining rights against the benefits. When we have business negotiations with foreign companies, we will decide in advance what information to disclose and what information not to disclose, and we will treat the secrets strictly. Please do not disclose more information than necessary at the exhibition.
Some websites, such as national patent offices and IPR offices, provide access to IPR bulletins. Please refer to this kind of information when you do a survey of the countries that have expanded. If necessary, I recommend you to ask for the help of a consultant who has know-how of overseas expansion.
Some companies may not consider protecting their intellectual property rights when expanding overseas. However, it is necessary to acquire intellectual property rights in order to prevent third parties from acquiring rights, albeit with reluctance. First of all, please consult with a person who has experience in overseas business, and ask a specialist if necessary.