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.
The monopoly right granted to an inventor by filing a patent acts as an incentive to keep people innovating and creating new things. If no patent right were available, others could quickly copy the invention and the inventor would not necessarily reap any financial reward for his or her creativity and hard work. Therefore the longer the period of patent protection, the longer an inventor has to profit from his or her invention and the more incentive there is for future inventors to create new and innovative products.