TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is to send patent officials to the United States to discuss the flap over Kim Kardashian’s Kimono brand underwear, the trade minister said on Tuesday.
The reality TV star and businesswoman said on Monday she would rename her Kimono shapewear line after people in Japan said her use of the term was disrespectful.
Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said he was aware of Kardashian’s decision but still wanted there to be “a careful examination” of the matter.
“This has become a big deal on social media,” Seko said during a regular press conference in Tokyo, adding that trademark issues fell under his jurisdiction.
“The kimono is regarded around the world as a distinct part of our culture,” he said. “Even in America, kimono is well known to be Japanese.”
Kardashian said that she had announced the Kimono products in June “with the best intentions in mind” and that she appreciated the feedback she had received.
“My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name,” she wrote on Twitter.
In Japanese, kimono means “thing that’s worn” and refers to full-length robes with sashes donned for formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. Kardashian’s use of the word on undergarments and filing for a trademark annoyed many people.
“Kimono is not underwear! Stop trademark registration! Don’t make the word kimono yours!” Twitter user Ruu wrote shortly after the launch announcement, echoing a common theme.
Others said using the word was “a theft of traditional culture” and begged Kardashian to change the name, saying the underwear would sell just as well if it was called something else.
Seko said that he was sending Japanese patent executives to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 9 to “properly exchange views on the matter”, adding that he would be following the situation closely.
Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Malcolm Foster and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Nick Macfie
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