Foreign firms to be allowed to use Kumamon brand

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Kumamon mascot

Jiji Press KUMAMOTO (Jiji Press) — The Kumamoto prefectural government said Thursday it will allow foreign businesses to make and sell products featuring Kumamon, the official black bear mascot of the southwestern prefecture.

The lifting of the ban is expected to boost recognition of Kumamoto and help attract more visitors from abroad to the prefecture, Kumamoto officials said.

So far, the prefectural government had rejected the use of the Kumamon brand by foreign businesses due to difficulties in patent management.

“I want to spread the Kumamon brand to the world,” Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima said. The prefectural government will begin to receive applications on Monday.

Foreign businesses will be charged a fee for using Kumamon. Revenue will be used for measures against pirated goods and costs for related operations.

The prefectural government will outsource related operations, including granting approval for the use of Kumamon illustrations, to advertising agency Asatsu-DK Inc.

Domestic and overseas sales of Kumamon-related products, including stuffed toys and stationery, increased 27 percent in 2016 from the previous year to some ¥128 billion, according to the prefectural government.Speech

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