(1) Introduction

Books and magazines are goods very familiar in our lives. Recent appearance of electronic books readable on smart phones enables us to read books and magazines more easily while we commute to and from works and schools, so that books and magazines are getting more and more familiar in our lives.

Besides, recently, various kinds of texts and educational materials used in educational industries (such as cram schools, English conversation schools, and vocational schools) are converted into electronic forms, too.

In terms of Japanese trademark registration, books and magazines can be classified as different goods/services from texts and educational materials used in the schools in Japan.

This website is intended for providing those engaged in the book/magazine industry with information useful in Japanese trademark registration.

(2) Title of Book

In general, it is considered that the title of a book cannot be registered as a trademark, and even if the title can be registered as a trademark, the trademark right cannot be effective against use of the title for other book in Japan.

For example, please assume the title of a book "Thinking Power" (describing hints about working practices of office workers). If other author were prohibited from using the title "Thinking Power" for a book describing hints about techniques in sports, the author would be required to select the title of his/her book after confirming whether the title has been already registered as a trademark. This would impose an undue burden on the author in consideration of the fact that copyrights are automatically in force in creation.

(3) Title of Magazine

In contrast, the title of a magazine, regardless of whether the magazine is weekly, monthly, or in other form, can be registered as a trademark. This is because the title of a book and the title of a magazine are treated differently depending on whether different contents are issued periodically.

For example, a monthly magazine is published periodically and has different contents in each issue. Although the contents of a monthly magazine vary in each issue, a reader who purchases the magazine every month does so because the reader's feeling "I want to read the magazine again" (reader's trust on the magazine) is accumulated.

The same can be said about goods such as beverages. Although the contents of beverages may change little by little, a customer's feeling "I want to drink the beverage again" (customers' trust on the beverage) is accumulated.

Such trusts on the goods are protected by trademarks. Names of beverages and titles of magazines serve as trademarks which are indicators for users to find desired goods.

By the way, there is a case where the title of a book can be registered as a trademark. An example of such a case is the title of serial comics.

Serial comics are published periodically and have different contents in each issue. They are similar to magazines in these regards and so the title of serial comics can be registered as a trademark.

(4) Trademarks used for Texts and Educational Materials

In cram schools, texts and educational materials are used in lessens. Services of providing knowledge, such as lessens in cram schools, are mainly registered in Class 41 in the International Classification under the Nice Agreement.

Then, in which class the texts and educational materials used in cram schools are registered?

Texts and educational materials themselves are goods in Class 16. However, in a case they are distributed in such a service of providing knowledge, it is suffice to register them in Class 41.

On the other hand, in a case where texts etc. are distributed alone as goods independently of the service of providing knowledge, the texts etc. are required to be registered also as goods in Class 16.

(5) Electronic Book

Recently, electronic books are prevalent, and many people seem to read the electronic books via smart phones and tablets.

Although electronic books and conventional paper books may have the same contents, the conventional paper books are classified into Class 16 "printed matter", whereas the electronic books, which are read after being downloaded to smart phones and tablets, are classified into Class 9 "electronic publications".

In a case of electronic books which are not downloadable (e.g. electronic books readable only on the Internet), it is necessary to register such electronic books in Class 41 "providing of electronic publications".

(6) Our Support for Those Engaged in the Book/Magazine Industry

Books and magazines are very familiar in our lives, and are widely purchased by millions of people regardless of their generations and sex.

We would always be pleased to assist those of you engaged in the book/magazine industry with protection of your intellectual properties. Please feel free to contact us for professional advice.

Supervisor of this article


Osaka Legal Strategy Department General Manager
Patent&Trademark Attorney
Specially Qualified Attorney For Infringement Litigation