Trademark Wagon strongly recommends a trademark search BEFORE filing a trademark application in Japan.
Your Trademark Search Report includes:
The purpose of a trademark search is to determine whether a particular trademark is registrable in Japan. The search will be conducted with the public trademark database "J-PlatPat" and other commercial database(s). The data will be carefully and thoroughly examined to see if any trademark has already been registered or applied for that is identical with or similar to the trademark to be adopted and covers the same or similar goods or services. If such a conflicting trademark(s) is identified through the search, it might block registration of your trademark.
From filing a trademark application to first action to be issued against your application, it takes about 9 to 11 months. During these 9 to 11 months, many trademark owners start a business or preparation of new business, or launch a new product or service.
Let's think what it would be the problem.
Suppose that you find out 10 to 14 months later that the application you filed cannot be registered in Japan. At that stage, you might have already started using the trademark in your business or proceeded with preparation of a new product with the trademark affixed to it and its packaging. Then you realize that you have no choice but to change the trademark you adopted. Time and money that you have already invested in advertisement and trademark prosecution etc. end up in vain.
It is risky to file a trademark application without a search prior to filing, i.e. not knowing possible obstacles to block registration of your trademark for 10 to 14 months or sometimes longer.
If you have plenty of time AND money, go ahead to file an application without a search. Otherwise, a small investment putting in performing a search might save you much bigger wasted investment down the road.
If the probability of successful registration of your trademark is determined to be low, what you can do is you may choose to adopt a different name, logo or mark etc. before investing any further energy to the trademark that is unlikely registrable.
In other cases, even if the probability to register a trademark is low, an applicant might still want to or need to use the trademark. In such cases, the applicant has some time to deeply consider possible measures and strategies, for example, taking such actions as negotiating with owners of conflicting trademarks or requesting a cancellation trial.