News

Revision of the Japanese Design Law

by Hirohito Katsunuma (Katsunuma International Patent OfficeJapan)

An extensive revision of the Japanese Design Law will be made in 2019. It includes an expansion of the protection of Image Design, an introduction of the protection of Space Design, an expansion of Related Designs, etc. The Act will come into effect in 2020.

1. Expansion of Protection of Image Design

(1) Relaxation of Requirement of “Images Must Be Recorded in Article”

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the image to be protected must be recorded in the article (Article 2 (1), (2)). After the revision, images displayed on an article which is viewed through a network will be protected. For example, images on the cloud sent to a device on demand will be protected.

(2) Relaxation of Requirement of “Images Must be Displayed on Article”

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the image to be protected must be displayed on the article (Article 2 (1) and (2)). After the revision, images displayed outside the article will be protected. For example, an image of time projected on a wall from a clock device (an article) can be protected.

(3) Relaxation of Requirement of “Images Must Be Those Necessary for Exerting Functioning of Article”

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the image to be protected must be those necessary for exerting the function of the article (Article 2 (1) and (2)). After the revision, images that are not necessary for exerting the function of the article, such as wallpapers of a computer, will be protected.

(4) Revision of Infringing Act

As the protection of images will be expanded, the act of uploading a protected image or sending a protected image without consent will be an infringing act.

2. Introduction of Protection of Space Design

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, only industrial designs of lodges or houses which are transacted as movable properties before being fixed on the ground can be protected (Article 2 (1)). After the revision, the design of an appearance of architecture will be protected. Further, the interior design of architecture will be protected.

3. Expansion of Related Designs

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the applicant seeking protection of a group of similar industrial designs can select one industrial design as a “principal design” and register other industrial designs similar to the principal design as “related designs” (Article 10 (1)). However, an industrial design similar only to a related design cannot be protected. After the revision, a design similar only to the related design will be protected. Further, each registered related design can enjoy its term of design right.

4. Extension of Term of Design Right

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the term of a design right shall be 20 years from the date of registration of its establishment (Article 21 (1)). After the revision, the term of a design right will be 25 years from the date of the application for registration.

5. Introduction of Multiple Design Application

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, an application for design registration shall relate to a single design corresponding to an article (Article 7). After the revision, multiple designs related to articles of a same class of the Locarno classification can be filed by one application.

6. Introduction of Locarno Classification

In accordance with the current Japanese Design Law, the article of an application for design registration must correspond to an article in the classes of articles prescribed by an ordinance of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. After the revision, the Locarno Classification established by the Locarno Agreement (1968) will be introduced.