Nishiyama Seimen Co., Ltd. started its business as a manufacturer of fresh ramen noodles for commercial use in 1953 after Takayuki Nishiyama, founder of the company, created the Sapporo ramen in Hokkaido, Japan. Sapporo ramen is characterized by its thick, firm and curly noodles. After decades of growth, the company currently manufactures and sells more than 200 flavors and 400 types of made-to-order fresh noodles and other types of noodles, and have branched out to provide consulting services to support the opening of ramen shops both in Japan and abroad.
In order to actively promote the diffusion of Sapporo ramen, and with it the culture of ramen and Japanese food, Nishiyama Seimen started shipping products abroad in 1975, and today export and supply its products to 120 shops in 33 countries and regions. Currently, the company has 218 employees, making it a medium-sized company with still great room for growth.
Quality initiatives to create premium quality products
Nishiyama Seimen produces an enormous amount of product in just eight hours of daily operation. For example, in just this time, it can prepare 180,000 servings of fresh ramen, 15,000 servings of frozen noodles, 10,000 of soba noodles and 20,000 pieces of frozen gyoza dumplings altogether.
To ensure that all this food is of the greatest quality for the consumers, the company supervises the preparation of each ingredient, and details such as the degree of waviness of the noodle, the color, thickness and kneading process are taken into account to create different types of noodles. The company has also set high standards for the preparation conditions and the temperature of storage temperature conditions. Finally, the company has started, from 2019, to acquire international certifications for food safety management systems such as HACCP AND FSSC 22000, and they plan on registering all its production lines in the future.
Overseas Trademark Acquisition Strategy and Benefits of the Madrid System
In recent years, the company decided to establish subsidiary companies in Germany (2013), the United States (2014 and 2016), and Singapore (2019) as relay centers for exports. As their overseas expansion accelerates, they are working to properly protect their international trademarks. Their products focus on noodles for commercial use, with the noodles themselves as a brand, and their sales are directed to businesses operating shops abroad, which publicize the fact that they use Nishiyama Seimen products.
Another part of the strategy is to invite chefs who want to open a shop abroad to study cooking techniques and train in business management with them, and provide support in the form of banners and promotional items bearing the Nishiyama Ramen brand name. For this reason, they have also acquired trademark rights for services in addition to products under the Nice Classification. Signs, banners, wooden noodle boxes, and empty boxes bearing our registered trademarks show that a shop uses Nishiyama Seimen noodles from Japan, which attracts customers and leads to increased sales abroad.
The company decided to start using the Madrid System on the advice of an attorney that they consulted with, in order to protect their trademarks by obtaining the right of use in other countries. The Madrid System, which counts today with 128 countries, offers cost advantages and makes it possible to secure earlier filing dates in each country.
Nishiyama Seimen and the WIPO Madrid System in practice
The "Nishiyama RAMEN" trademark is both the company and brand name of their products. Firstly, they applied for trademarks combining the logo and the name "Nishiyama RAMEN" written in Japanese characters or the Latin alphabet under Class 30 (products such as noodles and seasonings) and Class 43 (services for the provision of foods and drinks) in an initial 12 countries. After, as business grew, they expanded the scope of protection by adding additional countries through subsequent designation. Nishiyama Seimen believes that the ability to make subsequent designations by a simple procedure is yet another benefit of the Madrid System.
The Madrid System is incredibly helpful for small and medium-sized companies like ours which sell products in a large number of countries. I highly recommend that companies expanding their business abroad consider using the Madrid System.
Nishiyama Seimen Co., Ltd.
A trademark solution for small and medium-sized companies
The Madrid System offers significant cost advantages for small and medium-sized companies like Nishiyama Seimen, which sell products in a large number of countries. Moreover, in small and medium companies, where sometimes a person who manages trademark issues also handles other works, it is important to count on a reliable and centralized system that helps simplifying the work necessary to renew and manage current and future trademarks.
Going forward, the company would like to continue to use the Madrid System as their market size expands and more member states join the system.