We would like to introduce the latest Design Act in Japan reformed in 2019, and have enacted from April 1st 2020 or later. It includes several aspects and we would like to focus on two points among them:

 (1) Expansion of the Scope of Protection; and (2) Expansion of the protection term of design

  1. Expansion of the Scope of Protection

In the previous design act in Japan, “the design” which was protected by the design act was defined that, “the shape, patterns or colors, or any combination thereof, of an article (including a part of article)”, that is, the design requires being “an article”. In the interpretation of the definition, image itself, --such as “GUI: Graphical User Interface” or projected image on the road or wall, were out of the definition. It is because these images were apart from “an article” .  Also, a Design for Building or a Design of Interior were also not eligible to be protected as “design” under the design act in Japan.

However, the new act expanded the scope of protection above. The act has already been enforced on April 1st, 2020, and it is reported that such the new types of designs have already been registered.

  1. Image design Example of Design Registration for Image (JP D1671773)

This is an image irradiated on the road surface from a vehicle equipped with an image projection device. The image represented by the drawings is a condition irradiated to the periphery of the vehicle when the vehicle is running or stopped so that the presence of the vehicle can be easily visually recognized from the outside. In addition, this image makes it easier for the driver to visually recognize the condition of the road surface around the vehicle. When the vehicle changes the traveling direction, the irradiation is changed according to the direction changed by the vehicle.

  1. Design for Building and Interior

Example of Design Registration for Building (JP D1671773)

In the practical points of view, drawings of 6 views are still required for filing. 6 views of 3D images or photos can be a replacement of drawings. Also, some additional drawings such as Reference perspective view for showing the usage status, cross-sectional views are sometimes preferably required to specify the design clearly.

  1. Change in the duration of design rights

The protection term for design right is expanded from 20 years to 25 years. To speak more exactly, beginning date of the term of 20 years under the previous act started from the date of registration, while under the new act, a beginning of the term of 25 years starts from the date of filing.

For more information, please see the leaflet linked below: https://www.jpo.go.jp/resources/report/sonota-info/document/panhu/isho_kaisei_en.pdf