Access to Innovation
New Rules for Industrial Design Patent Applications in Japan May Simplify Procedures
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INDUSTRY NEWS
The Japan Patent Office (JPO) has instituted new policies for Design applications. The changes apply to applications filed on or after May 1, 2019. These changes tend to simplify the procedures for applicants.
Looser requirements for submission of design diagrams
Formerly, all applications had to have at least the six surface angles depicted in figures (top, bottom, front side, rear side, left side, right side)–but now, if the overall shape of the design is clear from fewer figures, then only the necessary angles are needed. Note, however, that the JPO may deem the non-depicted side as not being claimed for the industrial design.
Simplification of partial design applications
If your application has a partial design included and indicated by dotted lines in the figures, then a separate statement in the application is now unnecessary.
Permission of non-claimed elements in figures, if clearly not claimed
In the past, the JPO would reject applications on grounds that the figures included elements that were not actually being claimed for the industrial design. Now, if it can determine that such element(s) are clearly not part of the claimed design (for example, if the application takes note of the non-claimed element), it will not reject the application on grounds of those elements.
Looser requirements for depicting abbreviated elements in the industrial design
Whereas in the past the JPO required specific parallel dotted-dashed lines to indicate abbreviated elements (such as a power cord) and explanation of the size of the abbreviated elements, now the JPO will be more open to alternative (if clear) methods to express abbreviated elements.
Comments and Cautions
Overall, the changes to the rules do not seem large, but they should help applicants and attorneys save time in making figures and writing applications. They are a welcome move toward simplification on what is not necessary.
New applications to the JPO with a filing date on or after May 1, 2019 are generally accepted under the new rules (including those with a priority date before May 1, 2019 if the application to Japan is on or after May 1, 2019). On the other hand, depending on the case, some or all of the rule modifications above may not apply to your application if it continues from a case filed before May 1, 2019. Some examples are industrial design applications that are switchovers from patent or utility model applications; divisional applications; or new applications filed in response to a Refusal to Accept Amendments; when the retroactive application date is before May 1, 2019. Please consult with a Japanese patent attorney if you think you might have an exceptional case.
* The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
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Taro Yaguchi, Saki Tohyama
Japan Patent Attorney’s Association (JPAA), Designs Committee, JPAA subscriber’s e-mail, May 9, 2019.
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