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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Mrz 05, 2020 (Newsletter Issue 3/20)
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Changes to Design Act in Force Soon

The changes to the Japanese Design Act will come into force on April 1, 2020. The changes cover the following:

1. Extension of the scope of protection
Designs for Graphical user interface (GUI) that are not applied on objects, e.g. images stored in a cloud and made available via a network, and designs for buildings as well as interior designs can now also be protected as designs (Art. 2 Design Act).

2. Enhancement of the related design system (system that allows the registration of designs that are similar to a design (principal design) in one's own design application or registered design) (Art. 10 of Design Act)
It will be possible to register multiple designs developed under a consistent concept. The new changes include
a) The time limit for filing related designs will be extended to 10 years from the filing date of the principal design (currently, it is only until disclosure of the registered principal design; i.e., about 8 months from the filing date of the principle design); and
(b) Registration of designs which are similar to related designs only will be possible.

3. Change in the duration of design Rights
The term is extended from “20 years from the date of registration” to “25 years from the filing date” (Art. 21 of Design Act).

4. Clarification of the level of creativity
Shapes, patterns, etc., or images published or made available through the internet will be considered in the determination of the creativity of a design (Art. 3 of Design Act).

5. Introduction of a partial design for a set of articles
Registration of a partial design for a set of articles such as the handle of a knife, fork and spoon in a cutlery set will be allowed (Art. 2 and 8 of Design Act).

6. Extension of the definition of indirect infringement
By defining subjective factors such as “the knowledge that an object can be used for the working of a registered design”, actions such as the manufacture and import of disassembled individual parts which may constitute infringing products can be controlled as an “indirect infringement” (Art. 38 of Design Act).

Source: Sonderhoff & Einsel, Japan