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Protection of System Designs

Under the old Design Law, the registration of a set of articles was restricted to thirteen (13) articles of two or more kinds that are customarily sold or used together as a set of articles listed in the Enforcement Regulations Attached Table 2 under the Ordinance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The current design law has eliminated 'customarily' and 'sold' from the requirements for registration, and amended “two or more kinds” to “more than two articles”. Further, although the articles are still limited to those listed in the MITI Ordinance, the specified list is to be increased on a large scale. It appears as though there will be a flexible application of the regulation for broadening of the scope of protection for the articles, with frequent revision of the MITI Ordinance. We anticipate that protectable objects will include, for instance, kitchen systems, furniture sets, stationary sets, etc. Such systems and sets were not previously entitled to design registration as a set.

The registration requirements such as novelty (Article No. 3), contravention to public order and morals (Article No. 5), and first-to-file rule (Article No. 9) are no longer imposed on each individual article of a set of articles. That is, Article No. 8(2) has been eliminated. Therefore, there is a possibility that registrations for individual articles and that for a set of the articles can coexist. In such a case, the design rights will be adjusted by the provision relating to use of other person’s registered design.