October 17 2007.
Japan plans to request that imitating brand or company names and logos be made a crime in China when the top trademark officials of the two countries meet for the first time in four years in Japan today, government sources said.

The use of names or logos confusingly similar to those of well-known brands or companies is prevalent in China. Trademark infringement is illegal in the country, but selling products bearing similar logos or running shops under such names are not subject to criminal liability.

The Japanese government intends to ask China to intensify its crackdown on the use of names or logos similar to those that have been trademarked, in the hope that imposing criminal penalties such as fines and prison terms will strengthen trademark protection there.

Tokyo will also urge Beijing to prohibit the use of names or logos confusingly similar to trademarks that are not registered in China but widely recognized in Japan. As part of the request it will seek a clear legal definition of what makes a party eligible to bring a trademark infringement case to court.

Japanese companies have suffered extensive damage from trademark infringement in China. According to a survey conducted in March last year by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), two-thirds of all intellectual property infringement cases were related to trademarks.

China's stance toward this issue has started to change, albeit slowly. In June, Yamaha Motor Co. won a lawsuit against Chinese motorcycle makers for using its logos without authorization. China's Supreme People's Court awarded Yamaha 8.3 million yuan, or about 130 million yen, in damages.

Source: The Nikkei Wednesday evening edition