For Expansion of the protectable Design (Architecture and Interior design)
(1) Protection of Building Exterior
Under the current law, buildings are not included in “articles (= movables)”; therefore, they are not protected by design rights (Article 2 (1)).
However, in recent years, there is an increasing number of companies which have been trying to improve the ability to attract customers and build their own brands with an unique appearance. Thus, the demand has occurred for the exterior of buildings to be protected by design as well.
In the US and Europe, the exterior of buildings is also protected by design rights.
Hence, the definition of “design” was added to “shape of building …” in this amendment, and the exterior design of the building was also protected by design rights.
(2) Protection of Interior Design (Article 8-2 of the New Design Act)
The current law adopts the idea that a design is established on one article. In addition, the principle of one application for a single design is stipulated that a design registration application must be individually made for each design (an application must not be filed with multiple designs in one drawing) (Article 7). An exception to this is the “design for a set of articles” system (Article 8), it is said that it can be filed and registered as a single design, in case multiple articles are considered to be “unified as a whole”.
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of cases in which companies provide services and sell products by creating unique brand values in their interior decoration of stores.
In order to protect the interior design of such stores with design rights, in this amendment, designs related to article which composes the equipment and the decoration (interior) inside the store can be applied and also registered as single design. However, the design can be approved only “when a unified aesthetic is created” as the entire interior.