This consultation desk is the first of its kind established by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and headed by its Export and International Bureau Intellectual Property Division.
This will be the first step in a new planned framework to be set up in collaboration with various ministries to combat counterfeit agriculture, fishery and food products found in overseas markets claiming to originate from Japan.
“Japanese food and agriculture products are highly regarded overseas, and [this has led to] many counterfeit products having been discovered in various markets, so MAFF is working to improve the quality and assurance of our export products in these markets in collaboration with the related ministries,” MAFF said via a formal statement.
“Recently, we have received a wide range of suspicious information and consultations concerning counterfeit products of Japanese origin in overseas markets, and [have established this consultation desk] as part of a framework to responding to these inquiries.
“All members of the public and industry are encouraged to use this platform if faced with any trouble concerning counterfeit food and agriculture products, suspicious information and so on.
“Hopefully we will eventually be able to promote the elimination of counterfeit products and brand protection of Japanese brand products overseas.”
Some of the functions of this consultation desk will be to assist in areas such as information regarding MAFF functions that can help subsidise costs for the sending of warning letters based on trademark rights, filing oppositions towards misappropriated trademarks, or any GI or trademark applications filed overseas.
“There is also a function under the MAFF that provides consultation support to those seeking advice from lawyers, patent attorneys, etc. towards the establishment of intellectual property rights,” the ministry added.
“Furthermore, in cases where [there is suspicion] of the producer falsifying the geographical origin, we will provide the relevant information and approach local authorities to encourage them to take action, from the perspective of consumer protection and prevention of unfair competition.”
In addition to preventing counterfeits, MAFF also aims for the consultation desk to be used as a platform to help Japanese companies expand into Thailand and beyond.
“We hope that not only businesses and organizations that have already expanded into Thailand, but also those that are thinking of expanding into Thailand in the future, will take advantage of this service,” it said.
“MAFF has already been supporting the overseas expansion of businesses that have GI certifications, whereas the Japan Patent Office and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) have focused on small and medium-sized enterprises with overseas applications for trademarks and so on.
“By centrally accepting consultations on this export support platform, the plan is to create a one-stop system for businesses to use efficiently.”