Trademark Use Doctrine in the European Union and Japan

26 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2016 Last revised: 22 Mar 2016

See all articles by Martin Husovec

Martin Husovec

London School of Economics - Law Department; Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: March 4, 2016


The scope of the regulatory power of trademark law in the market-place is constantly being tested against the new developments in technology. Today, the rights arising from the trademarks increasingly cover large portion of activities going beyond the mere misrepresentation of goods and services. Market transparency is not anymore the sole goal of trademark law. In this comparative study, we will contrast European and Japanese approach to the doctrine of trademark use, i.e. doctrine that decides whether the trademark laws extend rights to regulate a particular use of a sign prior to any considerations of confusion or unfair advantage. Evolution of the law in the two countries illustratively shows the gradual departure from origins of trademark protection, still persisting in Japan, to more advanced, but not necessarily better, systems of protection in the European Union. By comparing the trademark law of two economies, the paper aims to demonstrate how the doctrine of trademark use itself facilitates the spill-over of the extended protection – initially offered only to well-known trademarks – also to ordinary trademarks and thus leads to overall expansion of the trademark law.

Keywords: trademark law, trade mark use, source identifying use, referential use, dilution, anti-confusion protection, misappropriation, misrepresentation

JEL Classification: K19, O34

Suggested Citation

Husovec, Martin, Trademark Use Doctrine in the European Union and Japan (March 4, 2016). Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, Forthcoming, Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 2/2016, TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2016-005, Available at SSRN: or

Martin Husovec (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

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London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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