Home (Japanese) > National Tax Agency JAPAN > Notice on Establishing Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications for Liquor (National Tax Agency Notice No. 19)

Notice on Establishing Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications for Liquor (National Tax Agency Notice No. 19)

<Interim translation>

Pursuant to the provisions of Article 86-6, paragraph (1) of Act Concerning Liquor Business Associations and Measures for securing Revenue from Liquor Tax (Act No. 7 of 1953), this notice is issued under the provisions of the same Article, paragraph (2) to the effect that Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications for Liquor shall be established as follows. The Notice on Establishing Indications Standards Concerning Geographical Indications (National Tax Agency Notice No. 4, December 1994) and the Notice on Establishing Origins of Wine, Spirits, or Seishu / Sake Designated by the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency as Provided in Paragraph (2) of the Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications (National Tax Agency Notice No. 6, June 1995) shall be repealed as of October 29 , 2015.

October 30, 2015

Commissioner of the National Tax Agency: Hiroshi Nakahara

Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications for Liquor

  • (1) Definitions

    • The terms listed below shall have the meanings defined in each of the following items:
    • (1) “liquor” means the liquor as provided in Article 2, paragraph (1) of the Liquor Tax Act (Act No. 6 of 1953);
    • (2) “liquor classes” means the classes as listed in Article 3, items (vii) to (xxiii) of the Liquor Tax Act;
    • (3) “geographical indications” means indications which identify a liquor as originating in the territory of a member state of the World Trade Organization (hereinafter referred to as “WTO”), or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the liquor (hereinafter referred to as “characteristic of liquor”) is essentially attributable to its geographical origin, and which is
    • (a) designated by the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency, or
    • (b) protected in a member state of the WTO other than Japan;
    • (4) “liquor categories” means the following categories: “Wine”, “Spirits”, “Seishu / Sake”, or “Other kinds of liquor”;
    • (5) the category of “Wine” contains the following liquor classes; wine and sweet wine (excluding wine and sweet wine produced by using any fruits other than grape);
    • (6) the category of “Spirits” contains the following liquor classes; continuous distilled shochu, pot still shochu, whisky, brandy, material alcohol, and spirits;
    • (7) the category of “Seishu / Sake” means seishu as a liquor class;
    • (8) the category of “Other kinds of liquor” contains any liquor classes other than what is referred in items (v) to (vii);
    • (9) “use” means the following acts carried out by manufacturers or distributors of liquor;
    • (a) the act of displaying geographical indications on the containers or packages of liquor,
    • (b) the act of transferring, delivering, exhibiting for the purpose of transferring or delivering,
    • exporting, or importing liquor displayed geographical indications on the containers or packages, and
    • (c) the act of exhibiting or distributing an advertisement, a price list or a transaction document of liquor, on which geographical indications are described.
  • (2) Designation of geographical indications

    • The Commissioner of the National Tax Agency may designate the matters listed in the following items (hereinafter referred to as “product specifications”), name, geographical area of the production, and a liquor category as geographical indications listed in item (iii), (a) of the preceding paragraph, when it finds that the characteristic of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin is clear and when it finds that management to maintain the characteristic of liquor is carried out appropriately:
    • (1) matters related to the characteristic of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin,
    • (2) matters related to the ingredients and manufacturing method of liquor,
    • (3) matters related to management to maintain the characteristics of liquor and
    • (4) matters related to liquor classes.
  • (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph, the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency may not designate the indications of any of the following items as geographical indications:

    • (1) indications which is the same as or similar to the registered trademark concerning liquor (refers to the registered trademark as provided in Article 2, paragraph (5) of the Trademark Act (Act No. 127 of 1959); the same applies hereinafter), and the use of which as geographical indications has a risk of infringement on the trademark right for the said registered trademark;
    • (2) indications which is used in Japan as a generic term for liquor;
    • (3) indications which is not protected by a WTO member although the geographical area of the product is located on a state of the said member; and
    • (4) in addition to the preceding items, indications which is recognized as inappropriate for protection.
  • (4) Cancellation of designated geographical indications

    • When the designated geographical indications fall under any of the following items, the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency may cancel the designation:
    • (1) when the designated geographical indications are no longer used;
    • (2) when, on or after the designated day, designated geographical indications becomes applicable to the indication provided in items (i) to (iii) of the preceding paragraph;
    • (3) when it becomes clear within three months from the day of designation that designated geographical indications was applicable to any of the indications provided in items (i) to (iii) of the preceding paragraph prior to said day of designation; and
    • (4) in addition to the preceding items, when the designation is recognized as inappropriate.
  • (5) Amendment to the designated geographical indications

    • The Commissioner of the National Tax Agency may amend the product specifications, name, geographical area of the production, and a liquor category for the designated geographical indications.
  • (6) Confirmation of geographical indications

    • Upon protecting the geographical indications listed in paragraph (1), item (iii), (b) , the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency may confirm that the said geographical indications do not fall under any of the items of paragraph (3), through negotiations with the member states of the WTO or by referring to the registered information of geographical indications of the WTO.
  • (7) Public comments for designation or confirmation of geographical indications.

    • The Commissioner of the National Tax Agency shall make the relevant materials available to the public beforehand in order to seek opinions from the public when making the designation of paragraph (2) or confirmation of the preceding paragraph.
  • (8) Public notice on designation, cancellation, amendment or confirmation of geographical indications.

    • When the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency makes the designation of paragraph (2), cancellation of paragraph (4), Amendment of paragraph (5), or confirmation of paragraph (6), the Commissioner shall notify the matter through official gazettes.
  • (9) Protection of geographical indications

    • The name of Geographical indications shall not be used with respect to the liquor which has its origin at a place other than the origin of the said geographical indications and the liquor which does not satisfy the product specifications for the said geographical indications. The same applies even where the true origin of the liquor is indicated or the name of geographical indications are used in translation or accompanied by expression such as “kind,” “type,” “style,” and “imitation.”, or the like.
  • (10) Exemptions

    • The provisions of the preceding paragraph may not apply to any of the following:
    • (1) when a person has used the name of geographical indications for a grape wine or distilled liquor in Japan in a continuous manner, which has its geographical area of the production in a member state of the WTO other than Japan, as a trademark (refers to the trademark as provided in Article 2, paragraph (1) of the Trademark Act; the same applies hereinafter) for a grape wine or distilled liquor for at least ten years preceding April 15, 1994 or in good faith preceding that date, and when the said person uses the said trademark for a grape wine or distilled liquor;
    • (2) with respect to the registered trademark which is the same as or similar to or containing the name of geographical indications, when the trademark owner for the registered trademark which was applied for registration before January 1, 1996, or before the day of the designation according to paragraph (2) (in case the name is amended pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (5), the said amendment) or before the day of the confirmation according to paragraph (6), or any other person entitled to use the said registered trademark (refers to the use provided in Article 2, paragraph (3) of the Trademark Act) as provided in the same Act, uses the said registered trademark for the designated goods or the designated services (refers to the goods or services which are designated pursuant to the provisions of Article 6, paragraph (1) of the same Act) concerning the trademark registration;
    • (3) with respect to the trademark and other indication having been used before the day of designation according to paragraph (2) (in case the name of geographical indications is amended pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (5), the said Amendment) or before the day of confirmation of paragraph (6), when a person uses the said trademark or other indications which is notified to the public not to be applied to the provisions of the preceding paragraph by the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency upon making the public announcement under paragraph (8);
    • (4) when a person uses the indication which is the same as or similar to the name of geographical indications, as the name of an individual or the name of a corporation (except where such indication is used in a manner as to misleading the consumer as geographical indications; the same applies to the following item and item (vi));
    • (5) when a person uses the indication which is the same as or similar to the name of geographical indications as the location of a manufacturer or of a distributor concerning liquor;
    • (6) when a person uses the indication which is the same as or similar to the name of geographical indications as the origin of an ingredient of liquor;
    • (7) when a person uses the indication which is the same as or similar to the name of geographical indications for the liquor whose liquor category is different from that of the said geographical indication; and
    • (8) when a person uses the geographical indications if the said geographical indications having been confirmed in paragraph (6) falls under any of the following items and this matter is notified through official gazettes,
    • (a) in case the name of geographical indications becomes applicable to any of the indications of paragraph (3), items (i) to (iii) on or after the day of confirmation, or
    • (b) in case it becomes clear within three months from the day of confirmation that the name of geographical indications is applicable to any of the indications of paragraph (3), items (i) to (iii) prior to the said day of confirmation.
  • (11) Indications which illustrate geographical indications

    • In case the geographical indications listed in paragraph (1), item (iii), (a) are used (limited to the use based on the act listed in item (ix), (a) of the same paragraph), the use shall be accompanied by the words “Geographical Indication” or “GI” in any one of the places of the name of geographical indications having been used; provided, however, that this shall not apply to the geographical indications with respect to which two years have not been passed since the day of designation according to paragraph (2), or the geographical indications with respect to which the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency decided that this paragraph shall not apply.
  • (12) The liquor which the geographical indications are not used thereon shall not use the words “Geographical Indication” or “GI.”

  • Supplementary Provisions
  • 1. This notice shall apply from October 30, 2015; provided, however, that the provisions of paragraph (11) shall apply to the geographical indications to be used on or afterOctober 30, 2017.
  • 2. With respect to origins of the grape wine, distilled liquor, or sake which are designated by the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency pursuant to the notice on Establishing Origins of Wine, Spirits, or Seishu / Sake Designated by the Commissioner of the National Tax Agency as Provided in Paragraph (2) of the Indication Standards Concerning Geographical Indications (National Tax Agency Notice No. 6, June 1995) , the designation according to paragraph (1), item (iii), (a) shall be considered as being made as of the date of application of this notice.
  • 3. The geographical indications having been confirmed to be protected by member states of the WTO other than Japan through negotiations with the member states of the WTO prior to the date of application of this notice shall continue to follow the previous cases.