The trademark system in Japan does not discriminate between domestic or international applicants. The protections offered by the Trademark Law are equally open to foreign companies and people as they are to Japanese citizens. This encourages international investment in Japan by giving foreign companies an easy method to secure protection for their intellectual property prior to expanding their business into the Japanese market.
Japan’s Design Law provides protection for the shape, form and external appearance of an object. This protection is based upon the visual examination of the object, so objects whose form is too small to be recognized by the human eye (such as a single grain of powder) cannot be protected under the Design Law. The design also has to be of a type that can be replicated and mass produced.
The protections granted under the Japan Design Law last for 20 years. This protection of the design provides considerable benefit to the design’s creator. Having the monopoly right to exclusively market a product with a design, or license it out to others, can be a very profitable business.
Japan has a variety of laws to protect the various types of intellectual property that are so important to modern commercial success. First, the Patent Law and Utility Model Law protect inventions. The Design Law protects the shape and form of a product. The Copyright Law protects novels, music and other creative works. The Trademark Law protects brand logos and images. In addition to these laws there are also specific laws regulating and protecting certain areas of commerce, such as the Semiconductor chip law and Seedling law to protect new types of plants.