Things to Know Before We Take the First Step

Intellectual Property - IP is respected and well protected by Japanese Laws. Eagle Valley Exports retains legal counsel in both the U.S. and Japan to help our clients and partners navigate various legal and contractual matters as we move forward.

Trademarks - Japan is a party to the Madrid Protocol covering international trademark application/registration. Unlike the U.S., there are no "common law" trademark rights in Japan. Japan is a "first to file" jurisdiction, rather than a "first to use" jurisdiction. Thus, it is very important to file trademarks early.

Patents - Japan is a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, so patents filed in the U.S. according to treaty procedures may be localized in Japan. In some cases the examination standards are more rigorous in Japan than in the U.S.

Contracts - There is a striking reflection of our cultural differences. Japanese contracts are typically very short (2 to 3 pages is very common) and to the point.

Good Faith Discussion - Almost every Japanese contract will include a clause like the following: "The Parties shall discuss in good faith and resolve any matters which are not provided for in this Agreement or for which doubt arises as to the interpretation thereof."

Litigation - Most Japanese individuals and companies are very litigation averse. Clients of Joseph Wadsworth (working as an attorney and trade consultant) and Eagle Valley Exports have done over a billion dollars worth of business in Japan, yet no client has actually litigated a contract dispute related to a domestic Japanese transaction.

Product Liability - Japan implemented a comprehensive product liability law in 1995 which defines product "defects", specifies who may be held liable for damage caused by product defects (the manufacturer, importer, seller, etc.), and provides limited exemptions, and statutes of limitations. Product Liability is serious business in Japan, and companies who are viewed as having ignored complaints or failed to take steps to avoid further damage or injury to consumers risk not only losing their societal trust (fatal to a business in Japan), but severe regulatory fines and penalties in addition to their liability for the damage caused.

Eagle Valley Exports is able to help producers in both the U.S. and Japan leverage tremendous opportunities through our pre-existing relationships, our understanding and respect of cultural and social context, our desire to foster lasting trust among partners and our commitment to complying with the law in both the U.S. and Japan.