About the Design System in Japan – 2
One-Design-per-Object principle and a design for a set articles
Is it possible to include multiple designs in one application in Japan?
No, unlike the European Community Design system, it is not possible to include multiple designs in one application. Thus, if a priority application contains multiple designs, it is necessary to file multiple applications, one for each design. It is called the “one-design-per-object principle”.
How do you determine “one design”?
If there are any differences in shape, color, ornament, or the like, they are not regarded as “one design”. Therefore, it is not possible to file the design variations as one application even if the differences are slight.
On the other hand, if a shape changes during normal use, it is possible to file all such shapes as “one design”. For example, a convertible car can be filed in one application for both its roof in an open position and in a closed position.
Exceptions for one-design-per-object principle
a) When the shapes of physically separated portions show a strong connection, such as in their symmetry, the design will be regarded as being “one-design”, even though it is not physically one body as shown in the example below:
< Photo frame >
b) When a product consists of multiple components such as a pack of playing cards, it is regarded as being a “one-design,” even though it physically consists of several cards.
c) Design for a set of articles
What is a design for a set of articles?
A design for goods that are commonly sold as a set is regarded as being a single design, even though the design actually consists of several different designs for several different products.
For example, tableware is commonly sold as a set containing forks, knives, spoons and the like. As long as all such goods have a unity design it is possible to file all in one application.
Please note that the design for a set of articles is only available to the stated articles, such as a “set of underwear”, “set of cuff links”, “set of smoker’s set”, “set of tea cups” and the like.
A partial design comprising of physically separated portions
The one-design-per-object principle at times causes a problem when an application is filed as a partial design (design with a disclaimer).
For example, if you would like to protect a design for an earphone and file the design as a whole as shown below, there are no problems regarding the one-design-per-object principle. Because the earphone is drawn with solid lines and it is physically one body:
However, if you would like to file the design as a partial design as shown below, it would be a problem. Since the cables are drawn with dotted lines, it is not physically one body. Thus it is not regarded as being either “one-design” or “one-object”.
In this case, we would have to file two separate applications, one for the “Head,” and the other for the “Connector” as shown below:
< First application: Heads for earphones >
< Second application: Connector for earphones >