To everyone involved in the eating and drinking industry
In the eating and drinking industry, a restaurant previously competed with other restaurants by the deliciousness of served meals, beautiful arrangement of the meals, the price range of the menu, pleasant behavior toward customers, etc.
However, in recent years, it has become difficult to win the competition with other restaurants merely by such high quality of served meals etc. as described above. In the eating and drinking industry, there is a strong tendency to attempt to create a market value by enhancing brand power by original design that is not possessed by other restaurants. For example, Starbucks Corporation creates the original brand image from the shop appearance and interior decoration design etc. and is loved by many customers as a relaxing coffee shop.
A trend is thus growing stronger to construct the ability to attract customers and the brand image from the shop appearance and interior decoration design etc. by giving original and unified design to all points of contact with customers, such as tableware to be used, uniforms of shop assistants, advertisement and webpage design, etc.
Revised Design Act enforced in April, 2020 has newly allowed design of "buildings", "interior decoration", and "images" to be a subject of protection. If other restaurants imitate the original shop appearance and interior decoration design etc. created with difficulty, the ability to attract customers will be lost, and the brand image constructed with effort will also be immediately destroyed. The original shop appearance and interior decoration design, which is important and valuable, needs to be well protected by design rights so as not to be imitated by other restaurants.
2 Design registration in eating and drinking business
(1) Original shop appearance and interior decoration design
1) Construction of brand image
As described earlier, design of the shop appearance and interior decoration etc. allows differentiation from other shops and construction of the ability to attract customers and the brand image.
We believe that acquisition of design rights to such shop appearance and interior decoration design makes it possible to restrain imitation by other companies, promote differentiation, and greatly contribute to establishment of the company's own brand.
Furthermore, the fact that design has been registered by overcoming hurdles, which are the requirements of novelty, creative difficulty, etc., means that the registered design has been proved to be excellent design with great originality.
Example of registration of appearance of restaurant
Example of registration of interior decoration of restaurant
2) Effective in preventing disputes in advance
Extension of the subject of protection to design rights to "buildings" and "interior decoration" is expected to also cause enterprises in the eating and drinking industry, which conventionally do not need to seriously consider design rights, to be active in acquisition of design rights. Thus, a company that has no countermeasures to design rights after the revision of Design Act may be suddenly accused by another company of design right infringement.
In particular, in the case of design of interior decoration, places which people enter and in which people spend a certain period of time (e.g., "houses", "hospitals", "offices", "restaurants", etc.) are considered to be similar in use and function in principle. Thus, rights to the design of interior decoration may be exercised across industrial categories.
In this regard, the shop appearance and interior decoration design that is granted a design registration allows a right to be given in clear form such as "Design Registration No.", and, in principle, also serves as fixed proof of non-infringement of prior design rights of others. This allows orderers and construction clients to also carry out construction etc. with security.
Furthermore, the shop appearance and interior decoration design that is granted a design registration also allows exercise of right on the basis of the clear right. This restrains imitation by other companies and leads to prevention of disputes.
As described above, any measures need to be planned not only for acquisition of company's own design rights but also for other companies' design rights after the revision of the Design Act enforced in April, 2020. Our office will provide appropriate advice in order to protect important intellectual properties of our clients.
(2) Image design of menu tablet, interior decoration, etc.
1) Extension of subject of protection of image design
Revised Design Act enforced in April, 2020 has allowed design of not only "buildings" and "interior decoration" but also "images" per se to be granted design registrations. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) etc. used in service provided through the Internet and images including not only images displayed on screens but also images projected on walls and human bodies can also be granted design registrations.
As described above, the revision of the Design Act has allowed image design to be more effectively granted a design registration.
2) Image design of menu tablet
In recent years, an increasing number of restaurants have been receiving orders from customers via menu tablets placed on each table. However, the menu tablets that are less easy to manipulate may cause particularly elderly customers to refrain from giving orders through such tablets. Thus, various ideas on how to easily select menus, how to easily give orders, etc. are supposed to be embodied in the screens of the menu tablets.
Such image design of the menu tablets can also be granted a design registration. We propose design registration also of image design of the menu tablets in order to protect, from imitation by other restaurants, the menu tablets that are easy to see and manipulate.
The following is an example of registration of an information terminal for restaurants before the revision of the Design Act. After the revision of the Design Act, menu screens per se can be granted design registrations, and thus such design registration of menu display images etc. is expected to increase.
Example of registration of information terminal of restaurant
3) Image design projected on shop wall etc.
In recent years, images have been frequently seen to be projected, as decoration of the shop interior, on the shop walls etc. by projectors etc. Such images can also be granted design registrations.
(Source) Japan Patent Office Sixth Design System Subcommittee Document 1
(3) Design of served foods and drinks per se
Some foods and drinks per se served at restaurants can be granted design registrations as in a "pancake" below. Furthermore, the revision of Examination Guidelines for Design in 2019 has allowed a combination of a container and food to be also granted a design registration as in "jelly with container" below.
[Owner of design right] ***.Inc.（フ―クル株式会社）
(Source) Japan Patent Office "Design Examination Guidelines and Examination Operation"
In enterprises in Europe and the United States, "design driven management" utilizing design to increase brand competitiveness (management utilizing design as an important management resource for an increase in brand power and innovation power) is widespread, and all points of contact with customers including not only products and advertisements but also shops and websites are consistently designed.
The object of the details pertaining to the revision of the Design Act is to achieve extension of design protection and improvement in procedure in the Design Act in order to promote "design driven management" proposed by the Japan Patent Office.
Our office will provide appropriate advice for our clients who wish to unify shop appearance and interior decoration design and design of websites, advertisements, tableware (dishes, cups, knives, etc.), uniforms, etc. so as to establish a new brand image and increase brand competitiveness.
For those who involved in the eating and drinking industry and interested in filing of design applications, please feel free to contact our office first. Our experienced staff members will support our clients in acquisition of design rights.