McDonald's Co. (Japan) v. K.K. Marushin Foods

10 Mutai Zaisan Hanreishu 478 (1978)

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McDonald’s Co. (Japan) v. K.K. Marushin Foods

Tokyo High Court
10 Mutai Zaisan Hanreishu 478 (1978)

Facts

McDonald’s Company (Japan), Ltd. (McDonald’s) (plaintiff) announced that it would begin operating in Japan in January 1971 and opened its first restaurant there six months later. Prior to that, McDonald’s was known in Japan as the name of an American restaurant as early as 1966 and was widely recognized by July 1969 when K.K. Marushin Foods (Marushin) (defendant) filed registrations for a series of trademarks that were identical or very similar to marks used by McDonald’s. Once McDonald’s began operating in Japan in July 1971, McDonald’s trademarks also became well-known there. In May 1972, Marushin started selling hamburgers from vending machines using the marks it had registered. McDonald’s sued Marushin, claiming that although Marushin had registered the disputed marks first, McDonald’s had superior rights because the marks were known to belong to McDonald’s. The Tokyo District Court held that the well-known-mark exception to Japan’s first-to-register rule applied only to marks that were well-known in Japan, not in other parts of the world. The court dismissed the cause of action, and McDonald’s appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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