How can I protect the design of my product so others can’t copy my idea?

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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.

When considering a design for protection under the Design Law, inspectors will look to see if the design meets certain criteria. The most important of these criteria is that the design is novel and unique. A design that is already in existence will be rejected and only designs that are completely new will be afforded protection under the Design Law. Furthermore, designs that go against public order or morals or designs that may cause confusion with another company’s services or business cannot be accepted based upon public policy grounds.

If you have any questions about design law in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.