To those in the household goods industry

(1) Introduction

To those in the household goods industry

We can buy household goods not only from conventional stores such as supermarkets, drugstores, convenience stores, and department stores, but also from suppliers which provide online shopping service through the Internet. This allows us to buy the household goods anytime and anywhere.

Further, due to recent increase of tourists from overseas, Japan-made household goods became known to the world. Consumption of the Japan-made household goods is expected to be increasingly higher in a current situation where, for example, “health goods and toiletries” were ranked among 10 purchased products that tourists from overseas are satisfied the most (according to the “2015 Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan” conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency).

Household goods include various kinds of goods such as toiletries, sanitary goods, detergents, bath and kitchen goods and cosmetics, and each of the goods has a design. If the design satisfies prescribed requirements, for example, that the design should be new, and should create an aesthetic impression through the eye, the design can be registered. As a result, you can use the design monopolistically and exclusively.

We have prepared this web page which provides “know-how” about a design registration to support those in the household goods industry who would like to increasingly enhance consumers’ purchase will for Japan-made household goods which attract much attention also from overseas and to expand their sales of such household goods.

 

 

(2) Designs for household goods

A “design” means the shape, patterns or colors, or any combination thereof, of an article, which creates an aesthetic impression through the eye.

You may wonder whether household goods can create an “esthetic impression.” Actually, the esthetic impression in the above sentence does not require refined beauty like an art work, but only requires some kind of aesthetic impression.

Now, take a toiletry product as an example, which is popular with tourists from overseas. Specifically, the following explanation takes an “electric toothbrush” as an example.

 

 

(3) Designs for whole articles

Whether a design for the electric toothbrush can be registered or not is determined comprehensively based on various requirements, for example, that the design should create an aesthetic impression through the eye, that the design should be mass-produced in an industrial manner, that the design should be new, and that the design cannot be produced easily.


Group C (Home Health Care Goods)
(Koninklijke Electronics Philips N.V., Design Registration No. 1428281)

 

 

(4) Designs for parts of article

An exchangeable part of the electric toothbrush is protectable by individually filing a design application for the exchangeable part. For example, if the electric toothbrush can be divided into a brush part and a body, the brash part and the body can each obtain a design right. This makes it possible to monopolistically and exclusively use not only the design for the whole electric toothbrush but also the designs for the brush part and the body of the electric toothbrush. Thus, the designs for the electric toothbrush can be protected more strongly.


Group C (Home Health Care Goods)
(Right side: Koninklijke Electronics Philips N.V., Design Registration No. 1432629)
(Left side: Koninklijke Electronics Philips N.V., Design Registration No. 1428280)

 

 

(5) Partial designs

In some cases, in addition to obtaining design rights for the whole article and for the part of the article, you would like to obtain a design right for a smaller part of the article to prevent the smaller part of the article from being imitated by the other company.

The following explanation takes, as an example, a case where you would like to monopolistically and exclusively use a control panel of the electric toothbrush, which control panel has a unique feature.

If the electric toothbrush and the parts of the electric toothbrush (the brush part and the body of the electric toothbrush) are registered, effects of design rights each extend to an article identical with or similar to the registered electric toothbrush and the registered parts of the electric toothbrush, and do not extend to the control panel of the electric toothbrush. That is, if the other company produces an electric toothbrush which directly employs the control panel of the registered electric toothbrush in its electric toothbrush, but an entire design for the electric toothbrush of the other company is not similar to that of the registered electric toothbrush, you cannot prevent the other company from imitating the control panel of the registered electric toothbrush.

In order to avoid such a risk, the partial design system is available. Under this system, it is possible to register a partial design for the control panel of the electric toothbrush by identifying the control panel with solid lines as illustrated in the drawing below and designating the “electric toothbrush” as the article to the design. This makes it possible to use the design for the control panel monopolistically and exclusively.

With use of the partial design system, you can effectively prevent the other company from imitating a design for a part of a household product, which part has a unique feature.


Group C (Home Health Care Goods)
(DentistRx, LLC, Design Registration No. 1420529)

 

 

(6) Another design registration system

A design for a variation created from one design concept is protectable with use of the related design system.

In a case where, for example, you have filed a design application for a battery charger of the electric toothbrush or you have obtained a design right for the battery charger, and then you would like to file a design application for a variation for the battery charger, it is possible to file a related design application for the battery charger by designating a previously filed or registered design as a principal design and a design filed after the principal design as a related design.

This makes it possible to protect the design for the variation (i.e., related design) as the original design (i.e., principal design) of the related design is protected. Note here that, effects brought about by design rights for the principal design and the related design are equal to each other.


        [Principal design]            [Related design]

Group C (Home Health Care Goods)
(Left side: OMRON Corporation, Design Registration No. 1530156)
(Right side: OMRON Corporation, Design Registration No. 1530409)

 

 

(7) We support those in the household goods industry

In the household goods industry, companies intend to distinguish their products from others’ products by their own creative designs which enrich our daily life. Meanwhile, if designs for such household goods are not suitably protected with intellectual property rights, the designs are imitated and imitation products appear on the market easily. As a result, those in the household goods industry will be forced to take measures against such imitation products.

There may be some cases where those in the household goods industry will face a situation that forces them to deal with an issue of intellectual property rights. We have established a system to provide thorough support for protecting intellectual properties of those in the household goods industry. Please feel free to contact us.

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