To those in the apparel industry

(1) Introduction

To those in the apparel industry

A plurality of designs (designs for a color, a shape and a material) form a piece of clothing, and the designs differ in each. In recent years, many people can enjoy fashionable clothing readily since reasonable clothing is easily available. This trend is represented by the terms “fast fashion” and “petit price” etc. Now, Japan-born fast fashion brand is popular also in other countries. In fact, the “cool Japan” strategy which is promoted by the Japanese government to disseminate Japanese culture overseas includes disseminating Japanese fashion culture.

The number of design registrations in the group of “Clothing and Personal Goods” was 2,200 (as of 2014). This number accounted for only 13% of the entire number of design registrations. However, it is important to obtain a design right for clothing since the plurality of designs are combined together to form a piece of clothing as mentioned above.

 

 

(2) Design rights in the apparel industry

In the apparel industry, various articles are protectable by design rights. In addition to finished products such as shoes and pants, parts of fashion items such as buttons and belt buckles are protectable by design rights. Further, not only a design for whole clothing, but also a partial design for a part of the clothing is protectable. Thus, it is possible to obtain a design right limited to a design for sleeves or collars. The following articles are the examples of design rights registered in the apparel industry.

 

 

★T-shirt (partial design)

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(LDH inc., Design Registration No. 1432316)

 

 

★Uniform

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(NIPPON PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL ORGANIZATION, Design Registration No. 1508953)

 

 

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(ADIDAS INTERNATIONAL MARKETING B.V., Design Registration No. 1267395)

 

 

★Jeans

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(LEVI STRAUSS & CO., Design Registration No. 1097199)

 

 

★Shoe

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(HERMÉS SELLIER, Design Registration No. 1386944)

 

 

★Shoe (partial design)

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(SSK CORPORATION, Design Registration No. 1144364)

 

 

★Button (part of fashion item)

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(MORITO CO., LTD. Design Registration No. 1545002)

 

 

★Belt buckle (part of fashion item)

Group B (Clothing and Personal Goods)
(HERMÉS SELLIER, Design Registration No. 1227615)

 

 

In the apparel industry, a large number of imitation products are appearing on the market since fashion items can be produced easier than products in other industries. In recent years, the increasing number of imitation products on the market has become an international issue. It is important to protect products with design rights not only to protect the products themselves but also to prevent the products from being imitated.

 

 

(3) It is too late to take measures when imitation product has appeared on the market abroad

Once a fashion style is in vogue in the apparel industry, in some cases, an imitation product of it come into Japan from overseas (especially from the East Asia), and appear on the Japanese market. In such a case, there are also some cases that its design and trademark have been registered by a third party in the above region.

It will be too late to take measures against the imitation product by obtaining intellectual property rights for the fashion style in other countries when you have faced the situation where the imitation products have prevailed in the Japanese market. Thus, we strongly recommend you to file a design application in other countries at the same time as you obtain a design right in Japan. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to expand your business outside Japan.

Management of design rights differs among countries. For example, (i) Europe and the United states which are advanced countries in intellectual properties, (ii) East Asian and South East Asian countries and (iii) other countries each have their own practice and require their know-how about a manner to resister a design, and there are also measures other than applying design rights to protect designs. Having the experiences in the field of design rights, we are happy to support you.

Japan joined the Hague Agreement in 2015, which allowed us to file international design applications. With use of this system, it is possible to simplify registration procedures and reduce cost.

 

 

(4) We support those in the apparel industry

In the apparel industry, data shows that it is useful to file a design application to “attract people's interest in the product.” If you are interested in registering a design right in and outside Japan, please feel free to contact us.

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