Asia Patent Alliance

Application documents for design patents in Japan, China & Korea

A design patent protects the design of a product. In Japan there is a rule that even without a design right, making dead copies of a product is forbidden (Unfair Competition Prevention Law). In China there is no such rule, therefore it is even more important to register a design trademark. In Korea there is rule similar to Japan, except for certain cases.

This time we would like to summarize the basic documents that are necessary for filing a design patent in Japan, China and Korea. Besides the application form mentioning the applicant and creator, drawings and other explanations are necessary.






In principle 6 drawings

No limit, advisable to submit 6 drawings and perspective drawing

6 drawings, perspective drawing also necessary

Omission of Drawings




Simple Explanation

Optional, Necessary in some cases



According to the "orthographic projection" system, 6 drawings are necessary, but in China a perspective drawing is necessary as well. Also in Japan some of the drawings can be omitted. For example if the side views are identical one can be left out, or if it’s a flat design for clothing or similar drawings can be left out, but it is necessary to explain it on a separate sheet. The same applies for China. If essential features of the design are only shown on certain drawings, non-relevant drawings can be left out but an explanation is necessary. Furthermore if the examination practice in China is compared with Japan, in China examiners are especially strict about the uniformity of the drawings. The perspective drawing is no exception; therefore it is necessary to pay attention not to create a perspective drawing that could easily lead to non-uniformity. In Korea recently the rules for drawings have become less strict; however, there are still examiners that follow the old rules so it is advisable to be aware of the uniformity of drawings in Korea as well.

Besides the drawings a simple explanation is required as well. In Japan it is optional to add an “explanation of the design” or an “explanation of the related products.” Explanations are only required in cases where drawings are omitted or if there is a transparent part. Also if the products using the design are new and it is not clear how they are used, this is described in the “explanation of the related products”.

In 2009 the law was revised in China and a “simple explanation” became essential. The use of products using the design and important points about the creation are explained. If there are special characteristics that are different from well-known designs, they are described in the important points about the creation. However, this simple explanation is relevant for the scope of the registered design right, therefore you have to take care not to set unnecessary limitations. Also if an application is filed under the Paris Convention in China, and the original application does not contain something appropriate to a simple explanation, there are cases when you cannot benefit from the priority right. So this point has to be paid attention to as well. In Korea you can benefit from the priority right, even if there is no explanation in the original application, as long as the drawings are identical.

Furthermore, in Japan there is a system called ”characteristics record”, which is not used when interpreting the design right, but useful during the examination and judgment process. An applicant can submit such a record, if the drawings and explanation do not make the characteristics of the creation of the design clear enough. In Korea and China there is no such system so the characteristics can only be described in the explanation. However, since the explanation effects the scope of the design right, it is advisable not go into too much detail.

Thus, in cases in Japan, China and Korea when submission of explanation documents besides the drawings is necessary, filing proactively can sometimes increase the chances for registration. If you plan to file a design application in these countries just contact the APA.