In Japan, when the tenant of a residence renews his or her lease agreement, the lessor often charges a renewal fee. For the first time, the Supreme Court has ruled on the issue of whether renewal fee clauses in lease agreements may fall foul of Article 10 of the Consumer Contract Act. It established a rule to determine whether such a clause unilaterally impairs the consumer's interests.
A recently promulgated bill to amend the Code of Civil Procedure and the Civil Provisional Remedies Act will change the international jurisdiction of the Japanese courts and will have a significant impact on foreign businesses. It also raises specific concerns for IP stakeholders.
Forthcoming changes to the Code of Civil Procedure will transform much international litigation involving a Japanese party. They will significantly affect many foreign companies that do not have offices in Japan, but engage in continuous transactions there, as well as foreign companies whose consumer contracts contain forum selection clauses designating a jurisdiction outside Japan.
In Japan, liability for copyright infringement may extend to persons or organisations that provide a place, medium or opportunity for copyright infringement by another person, under certain conditions. The Supreme Court recently rendered two judgments on the liability of service providers that assist remote users in watching or copying television programmes in breach of copyright law.
A significant Supreme Court judgment implies that notary deeds may not always suffice to prove the veracity of representations set forth therein. Similarly, private documents may be insufficient to prove the representations set forth therein. As a result, contractual parties may wish to create and preserve more direct evidence of facts.
The Tokyo District Court has rejected a trademark infringement claim against the operator of Japan's largest online shopping mall, in which one of the shops had sold infringing goods. The decision, which also has implications for the sale of infringing goods on auction websites, deals a blow to third-party rights owners that seek to stop infringement through the courts.
The Tokyo District Court recently held that a co-author of an original work may refuse to consent to exploitation of a derivative work, even if the derivative work was created with the co-author's consent. The court held that the distinction between the rights of an original author and those of a joint author is reasonable, as joint owners have a closer relationship with each other than an original author and the author of a derivative work.
The Supreme Court has made a potentially historic decision regarding a seller's warranty. The case related to the sale and purchase of land that contained a substance later deemed to be a pollutant. The decision contrasts with an earlier Tokyo High Court ruling and will have a significant effect not only on transactions regarding contaminated land, but also on the interpretation of the term 'latent defect'.
When a labour dispute is litigated in the Japanese courts, jurisdiction may be restricted by virtue of the sovereign immunity of one of the parties or by the lack of a basis on which to accept international jurisdiction. However, recent legislative and case law developments in both areas will have a significant impact on the power of the Japanese courts to adjudicate labour disputes.
A number of Japanese courts have ruled on the issue of fair compensation for minority shareholders squeezed out in management buy-outs. In each case, minority shareholders faced with compulsory acquistion procedures using wholly callable shares sought adequate consideration of such shares. The decisions stress the importance of giving minority shareholders the opportunity to consider a buy-out.
Japanese law provides that only a patentee or a licensor registered as a statutory exclusive licensor has standing to sue for patent infringement. However, the IP High Court has found that a former sub-licensor may seek damages as compensation for a former sub-licensee's violation of a sub-licence agreement.
The newly promulgated Act on the Civil Jurisdiction of Japan over Foreign States allows private parties and states better to predict whether they will be subject to the civil jurisdiction of the Japanese courts. In particular, private individuals seeking to engage in transactions with a foreign state will be better able to ascertain and avoid potential risks related to jurisdictional immunity.
The Supreme Court has recently rendered a series of judgments relaxing the requirements for filing an administrative suit and appearing to require lower courts to exercise greater scrutiny of measures taken by administrative agencies. The decisions demonstrate the court's intentions to strengthen the judicial remedies provided by administrative litigation.
Under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, a company that files a securities report containing a material false statement is liable to past and present shareholders for damages caused thereby. A number of recent judgments shed light on issues of civil liability for false statements in securities reports, especially on the method by which shareholders plead and prove the amount of damages.