The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) may modify the international trademark registration system in the near future so as to allow the registration of trademarks comprising Chinese or Japanese characters.
Japan and China are both members of the Madrid Protocol which allows for the submission of requests for international protection covering those two jurisdictions. However the current system only enables submission of figurative, semi figurative or verbal trademarks consisting of Roman characters. It was impossible to register international trademark consisting mainly of Chinese or Japanese characters with WIPO until now.
The director general of WIPO, Francis Garry, stated that the institution will work on these reforms over the next five years. The first changes pertaining to Chinese characters should be approved as early as next autumn.
These changes are supported, in particular, by Asian and Middle East countries and reflect the growing importance of Asian economies globally. A Chinese or Japanese company wishing to undertake an international registration will no longer have to give up its original trademark and register a mere translation of its trademark. According to Zhao Hu, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law, this reform will also reduce the number of free riding cases.