Trademarks: use them or lose them


Ryo Maruyama

In Japan, the wide range of ringtone melodies available for mobile phones is one of the major reasons why these phones have increased in popularity so rapidly.

Japanese electronics company NEC was the first company worldwide to successfully add this ringtone function to mobile phones.

In Japanese, the ringtone is known as ‘chaku-mero’, which is short for ‘chakushin melody’, which means incoming melody. The Chaku-mero wording was registered as trademark no. 4194385 in 1998 and no. 4707135 in 2003 in the name of Yozan Co. The trademarks are quite widespread in Japan.

The Chaku-mero trademarks were subsequently sold by Tokyo’s metropolitan government via a Yahoo tax sale auction on February 16, 2010, after Yozan failed to pay its taxes to the city. Trademark no. 4194385 was earning royalties from two companies of ¥0.378 million (about $4,000) a year and its value was estimated at ¥1.57 million (about $17,000). Trademark no. 4707135, meanwhile, was estimated to have a value of ¥0.43 million (about $4,600).

ringtones, trademarks, words