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Over 1,200 applications filed for Reiwa-related trademarks in China

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga raises a board bearing the new era name "Reiwa" at the prime minister's office on April 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

BEIJING -- Ever since the Japanese government announced the new Imperial era name "Reiwa" on April 1, more than 1,200 applications have been filed in China for trademark registrations relating to the name. As Chinese authorities have been recently tightening assessments of those applications, however, most of the requests are expected to be turned down.

According to a search site of China's trademark office, prior to the April 1 announcement of the era name, there was only one trademark application for the name, filed in 2017. However, as of April 1, the number of such applications climbed to 238, and further swelled to 1,276 by April 28.

Those requests are for registration of names such as "Reiwado," "Reiwaya" and "Reiwa tenka."

In China, trademarks are classified into 45 categories by products and services, such as food, toys and fabric goods. In many cases, companies and individuals apply for Reiwa-related trademark registrations for several categories.

In November 2017, a person in the Hebei province filed for trademark registration of Reiwa as a brand name of Japanese sake, wine, cocktails and other liquors. The request was granted in October last year. While the trademark will be effective for 10 years until October 2028, the permission could be rescinded if the name had not been in use for three years.

According to the Chinese media, it has not been confirmed whether this individual has begun producing Reiwa-branded alcohol.

In response to bashing and criticism from the United States and other countries, Chinese authorities have recently turned down a slew of applications filed by third parties for trademarks using renowned brand names and the names of places abroad.

According to the Chinese news site Caixin Net, Chinese dealers are finding business opportunities in the new era name, but an expert believes that Chinese authorities are unlikely to grant any new permission for trademark names related to Reiwa.

(Japanese original by Kiyohiro Akama, China General Bureau)

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