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Explanation of Intellectual Property Rights

What is Intellectual Property?

What is intellectual property? This is explained in plain language on the JPO website. To summarize.

Article 1 of the Patent Law
, "The
purpose of this Law is to encourage inventions and thereby contribute to the development of industry by protecting and exploiting invent

If inventions and ideas are not properly protected by the system, people will try to keep them secret so that others will not steal them.
However, this means that the inventors themselves will not be able to use it effectively, and others will waste their research and investment in trying to invent the same thing.
The intellectual property system grants exclusive rights to inventors for a certain period of time in order to make their inventions available to the public, promote their use, promote the advancement of new technologies, and contribute to the development of industry.

What are design rights?

Intellectual property rights include patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, and trademark rights, etc.
SYRINX holds a large number of patent rights, design rights, and trademark rights, the largest number of which are design rights.
Design rights protect designs such as patterns, colors, architectural shapes, and images. Design rights arise when an application is filed with the Japan Patent Office, undergoes examination, and is registered.
In this column, we will discuss design rights in more depth.

Design Infringement

Design infringement is the act of selling, importing, or renting a product with the same or similar design to a registered design without the permission of the design owner, even though the exclusive right to the design exists. Design infringement is prohibited by the Design Law.

What constitutes design infringement?

A major misunderstanding is that it is not only the exact same design as the registered design that is protected.
Design rights extend to similar designs.

Examples of Design Rights

Let us explain Hitoe Fold, which has acquired many intellectual property rights, in a few concrete examples.
After the first Hitoe Fold was released, many compact wallets with a similar concept were created in the market. (See "Genealogy of the Small Thin Wallet. ") In the
meantime, Hitoe Fold has filed one patent and five design patents to protect its core idea and design.

To give an example, the figure below shows design registration 1659079. It was registered to protect the basic structure of a wallet. The dotted line part is not included in the application and only the part painted in red is registered. This is a partial design registration.

What is a partial design?
The Patent Office has revised the law so that designs relating to parts of an article may also be protected because of the increasing number of clever imitations that incorporate original and characteristic parts while avoiding infringement of the design as a whole, and which fail to adequately protect the investment. (Edited from "Industrial Property Law (Industrial Property Law): A Verbatim Commentary" by the Japan Patent Office)

Hitoe Fold 意匠登録

Examples Considered Similar

As mentioned earlier, design rights protect not only exactly the same design, but also similar designs. In many cases, the determination of similarity is a major point of contention. For this reason, the JPO has issued several guidelines, some of which are introduced below.
For example, in the previous design registration 1659079, the method of stitching and the size and shape of the notches were changed.

| Stitching Treatment Methods
The current stitching method, as well as the method of going around the leather at the edges and stitching on the inside instead of the outside, are common techniques that are easily thought of.
The Patent Office's examination criteria for a design are as follows: "The impact of commonplace shapes and other parts is relatively small.
(JPO Examination Criteria and Practice for Examination of Designs, 49p)
Therefore, it is highly likely that even if the current stitching method is changed to another common method, it will be considered similar.

|Size and shape of notches
The difference in size has little effect as long as it is within the scope of common sense in the field to which the design pertains.
(JPO Examination Guidelines and Examination Practice for Designs, p. 50)
Therefore, it is highly likely that differences in the size of the notches will be considered similar. In addition, the notch is not included in the registered portion, and differences in shape are not considered.

In fact, with regard to the above design registration 1659079, there was a case in which a product to be sold by another company was judged to be similar, and an injunction request based on Article 37 of the Design Law was filed, resulting in the cancellation of the planned sale of the product.


In addition to patents and design rights, there are other laws and rights that protect designs, such as the Unfair Competition Prevention Law and copyrights.
Infringement of intellectual property rights may result in criminal penalties as well as civil penalties such as compensation for damages. In
order to prevent damage caused by intellectual property infringement, SYRINX has published a list of more than 50 intellectual property rights that it owns or has applied for, making it easier for third parties to investigate