Journal Article

Can't get no satisfaction: Rolling Stones litigate in Japan

John A. Tessensohn

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 6, issue 3, pages 183-192
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
Can't get no satisfaction: Rolling Stones litigate in Japan

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  • Arbitration
  • Intellectual Property Law


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Legal context

The owner of arguably the world's most famous rock logo, the Rolling Stones’ famous tongue and lips mark, suffered a stunning trade mark opposition setback after the Intellectual Property High Court of Japan (IPHCJ) revoked a favorable opposition decision on the basis that a junior lips and tongue mark is not liable to cause confusion amongst rock music consumers.

Key points and practical significance

The IPHCJ case underscores the supremacy of consumer confusion for trade mark similarity determination and the weight that the IPHCJ places on the expertise and sophistication of class of consumers no matter how iconically famous the senior mark may be. The article also highlights the procedural pitfalls and strategic shortcomings in Japan's trade mark opposition system and why brand owners will be better served by using its invalidation appeal system to police competitors’ trade marks in the world's second largest economy, Japan.

Journal Article.  6932 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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