Domestic design system

What kind of right is a design right? We explain the subject matter and scope of design rights.

What is a design right?

A design right is one type of intellectual property right.

In addition to design rights, intellectual property rights also include patent rights and trademark rights, but each protects different subjects. Patent rights protect technical ideas, while trademark rights protect product names and corporate logos.

In contrast, design rights protect designs, that is, the designs of industrial products.

A design right is a right granted to an industrial design, and the right holder can exclusively exploit that design. The purpose of the right is to protect original designs and encourage their use, thereby stimulating creativity and contributing to the development of industry.

In order to obtain a design right, it is necessary to file an application with the Japan Patent Office, undergo examination, and be registered. A design right can last for a maximum of 25 years from the date of application. A person who has obtained a design right can exclusively exploit (manufacture, sell, etc.) the industrial design during the duration of the right, and can grant licenses to others.

Please refer to the following article for a detailed explanation of the process for obtaining a design right and the duration of the design right.
· "Steps to registering a design'
· "Duration of design rights'

By the way, what kind of "designs" are subject to design rights?

Designs subject to design rights

Under the Design Act, a design is defined as follows:

① The shape, pattern, or color of the “item” or any combination thereof
② "Building" and "interior" design
3. Image design for devices and software
*Parts ①, ② and ③ are also included in the design. For details, see the "Partial Design System."

"Goods" include everything from everyday items such as clothing, furniture, electrical appliances, and other daily necessities, to communication equipment and industrial machinery.

For more information about articles etc. for which design applications can be filed (articles, buildings, interiors, and images are collectively referred to as articles etc.), please see the article below.
· "You can also register things like this!'

In addition to obtaining a design right for the entire article, the Design Act also provides for a "partial design" system and a "related design" system. By effectively using these systems, you can make your design right even stronger.

partial design system

For example, if an article has a unique and distinctive design, it is possible to obtain a design registration for only that part. This makes it possible to prevent clever imitations that incorporate the unique and distinctive parts while avoiding infringement of the entire design.

Design Registration No. 1536261 "Bath brush"
(The part indicated by the solid line is the part for which a partial design registration is sought.)


Design Registration No. 1673327 "House"
(The part coloured in red is the part for which the design is to be registered.)


Design Registration No. 1716238 "Interior design of clothing store"
(The part indicated by the solid line is the part for which a partial design registration is sought.)


Design Registration No. 1721514 "Electronic calculator with electronic payment and information display functions"
(The part indicated by solid lines and colors is the part for which a partial design registration is sought.)

Related design system

Normally, designs similar to prior designs cannot be registered, but as an exception to this rule, an applicant may select one of his/her registered and applied designs as the principal design, and may file an application for a similar design within 1 years from the filing date of the principal design. (The same examination for novelty, etc. as for normal designs is conducted.)

When developing variations in a product design, the “related designs” system can be used to effectively obtain rights for multiple product variations created from a single design concept.

Main design
Design Registration No. 1669012 "Mechanical Pencil"
Related designs
Design Registration No. 1669108 "Mechanical Pencil"

For more information about the related designs system, please see here.
· "Utilizing the related design system'

Scope of design rights

If the applied design is registered, the design owner will have the exclusive right to exploit (manufacture, sell, etc.) the registered design and similar designs.

When a new product is released and becomes popular, copies or imitation products with a similar design may appear. The better the design, the more likely it is to be imitated. Even if you spend a lot of money developing a product, the appearance of copies or imitation products may reduce your sales of your own product, making it impossible to recover your development costs.

Design registration is an effective countermeasure. When a design application is registered, the details of the right are published in the Design Gazette. In order to avoid infringement, competitors will search for registered design information in the Japan Patent Office database before developing or selling a new product. If necessary, they will then consider changing the product design or canceling the plan, thus preventing the manufacture and sale of counterfeit or similar products. Design rights act as a deterrent to other companies.

Conversely, before selling a new product, it is necessary to check in advance whether a similar design has been registered by another company.

In addition, the implementation of a registered design or a similar design by another person constitutes infringement of a design right. If counterfeit or similar products are introduced into the market, you can exercise your design right and eliminate such products with legal force. For example, you can request that the other party stop manufacturing or selling the product. Alternatively, you can negotiate a license with the other party and enter into a license agreement that allows the use of your company's design right.

Furthermore, obtaining a design patent serves as proof of originality and increases the credibility of your product with business partners.

For more information on other benefits of obtaining a design patent, please see the following article.
· "What are the benefits of design registration?'

The effect of a design right extends to the scope of identity or similarity to the registered design. Whether or not a design right has been infringed by another person, that is, whether a registered design and another person's design are identical or similar, is determined by whether the form of the design and the articles, etc. of the design are identical or similar.

Please refer to the following article for a specific explanation of the scope of design rights.
· "Overview of design infringement and remedies'

In this way, obtaining a design patent can bring about various business benefits.

I hope you also understand that when developing and selling a new product, it is necessary to pay attention to the design rights of others.

If you are considering registering a design, please feel free to contact us. We provide free estimates. If you would like an estimate, please call the Design Office or contact us atInquiry form"Please visit us at:

In addition, we also provide support and consulting services for all kinds of intellectual property issues, such as consultations on designs and infringement countermeasures. Please feel free to contact us with any inquiries or requests.

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