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Q1. What kind of design can be registered in Japan?

Q1. What kind of design can be registered in Japan?

A1. A registerable design is a shape, patterns or colors, or any combination thereof, of an article (including a part of an article), which creates an aesthetic impression through the eye (Design Law Art. 2(1)), i.e. a visual aesthetic impression.

(1)Thus, a design needs to satisfy the following requirements:
(i) It must be a form or configuration of an article.
An article means a tangible entity which can be distributed in a market. Therefore, a mere two-dimensional figure or image such as a graphic symbol can not be the subject of a design registration.
The design law provides for a partial design registration system which permits design registration for a part of an article. However, even in this case, it is necessary to specify the form or configuration of an article which includes the part.
(ii) It must be recognized through the eye.
In principle, the article should be recognized with the naked eye.
(iii) It has to produce a visual aesthetic impression.

(2)Further, the shape, patterns or colors or any combination thereof in a part of an article shall include those in a graphic image on a screen that an image which is provided for use in the operation of the article (limited to the operations carried out in order to enable the article to perform its functions) and is displayed on the article itself or another article that is used with the article in an integrated manner (Art. 2(2)).
For example, an image appearing in a display of a copying machine to notify magnification rate falls in “an image which is provided for use in the operation carried out in order to enable the article to perform its function”. On the other hand, an image displayed by an OS (operating system) of a computer is excluded from the registerable image.