Various industrial designs are registered and protected through the process of Design Registration in India. The entire procedure of the Design Registration is governed under the Designs Act-2000 and the corresponding Designs Rules-2001.
‘Design’ refers to the unique aspects of shape, figure, blueprints or decorations or composition of lines or hues or combination thereof given to an article, which may be 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional or in both formats, by any manufacturing procedure or mode. The process involved in creation of the design may be manual, mechanical, automated or chemical, separate or all-inclusive, by which the finished article appeal to and can be identified solely by the eye. However, this does not contain any mode or a standard or construction or anything which is in material a mere mechanical device. Besides, it does not include any registered trademark, as defined in Section 2(v) of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958, as well as a property mark or an artistic work as defined under the Section 2(c) of the Copyright Act, 1957.
WHY NEED A DESIGN REGISTRATION?
As per section 11 of Designs Act, 2022, design registration gives the registered owner ‘copyright’ in the creation of the registration period. ‘Copyright’ means the exclusive right to use the design in the article of the section in which it is registered. The most important benefit and basic purpose of a registered design are if anyone infringes your design, you can file a case or suit upon the infringer for the loss to your sales as well as damage to your goodwill in the market. When a design is registered it gives its owner the exclusive right against unauthorized copying or imitation of the design by third parties. Another benefit is that an owner can license the design or sell the design if he is in need of money or if he has limited production capacity. This provision also provides that if before the expiration of the given term, an application for the extension of the period of copyright is submitted before the controller in the prescribed manner and on payment of the prescribed fee. The controller can extend the period of copyright for the second period of five years from the expiration of the original period of ten years. Here are some of the key reasons why a business entity needs a Design Registration:
- To get effectual and well-situated legal shield for safeguard of unique designs in India from being imitated or misused.
- To promote and develop creativity and originality.
- It is a mandatory compliance for all the companies located in the WTO Member nations who have signed the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement.
LAW APPLICABLE FOR DESIGN REGISTRATION
The registration and protection of industrial designs in India is administered by the Designs Act, 2000 and corresponding Designs Rules, 2001 which came into force on 11th May 2001 repealing the earlier Act of 1911. The Design Rules, 2001 was further amended by Designs (Amendment) Rules 2008 and Designs (Amendment) Rules 2014.
BENEFITS OF HAVING DESIGN REGISTRATION
Here are some evident benefits of having a design registered under the Design Act 2000
- Legal Shield Against Design Plagiarism
The Design Registration process restricts other entities to copy, reproduce, sell or distribute their products bearing an identical design to the original one.
- Extended Validity
A Design registration certificate is valid for a period of 10 years. After the expiry of this validity period, the validity can be further extended up to 5 years more.
- Gives A Unique Selling Point
There is no doubt that the design registration gives a business owner a Unique Selling Point. This means that with a registered design, the products of a business entity get a unique character and appearance from that of its rivals.
- Saves The Creativity
The products with registered designs are globally unique, which means they are not formerly published in any of the WTO member nations and are also not used by anyone in India before.
- Induces Client Response
Another important benefit of registering a design is that it just appeals to the general customers and is judged solely by the eye.
- Induces Innovation
As uniqueness is the key criteria for Design registration, the product has to be alluring and unique enough from others, this promotes innovation and gives ultimate boost to healthy competition.
COPYRIGHT FOR A REGISTERED DESIGN: SECTION 11
Copyright in an industrial design is governed by the Designs Act 2000. If a design is registered under that Act, it is not eligible for protection under the Copyright Act. In the case of a design which is capable of being registered under the Designs Act, but not so registered, copyright will subsist under the Copyright Act, but it will cease to exists as soon as any article to which the design has been applied has been reproduced more than 50 times by an industrial process by the owner of the Copyright or with his license by any other person. It would, therefore, follow that those industrial designs which are not registrable under the Designs Act get protection under the Copyright Act provided it comes within the scope of section 13 of the Act as original Artistic works. According to Section 11 of Designs Act 2000, when a design is registered the proprietor of the design shall have copyright in the design during ten years from the date of registration which can be extended to five more years.
DURATION OF PROTECTION UNDER SECTION 11
Once a design meets the statutory conditions, it is registered and the proprietor of the design acquires a copyright over that design which lasts for a duration of 10 years from the date of registration (in cases where claim to priority has been allowed, the duration is 10 years from the priority date), further extendable to an additional period of 5 years upon a request made within the said protection period.9 The date of registration, except in case of priority, is the actual date of filing of the application. In case of registration of design with priority, the date of registration is the date of making an application in the reciprocal country.
INFRINGEMENT OF SUCH PROTECTION
A registered owner of a design acquires exclusive rights to apply the design in respect of article(s) for which registration is sought for. A fraudulent or obvious imitation of the design thereof, in respect of a similar article, for the purpose of sale or importation of such article, without the written consent of the registered proprietor, amounts to piracy of a registered design. Publication or exposing such articles for sale with knowledge of the unauthorized application of the design to them also involves piracy, attracting pecuniary damages and injunction reliefs. A suit for infringement of copyright in design or piracy of registered design shall be filed before the Controller of Designs, and shall possess powers of a civil court in disposing off the same.
Designs play a crucial role in visually differentiating one’s products from its competitors and with the rise of competition in the industry, protecting one’s designs is pertinent to attain an edge in the industry. The criteria of visual appeal to be a design, leaves an impression in the consumer’s mind and over the time, associates with the owner alone. The Designs Act, 2000, was formulated with intent to promote innovation and creativity in sync with the global industrial and technological sector. The niche and extensive framework, with its streamlined application process and period amendments, ensures proprietors/owners are awarded statutory rights, in harmony with international treaties and agreements such as the 2014 amendment to the Designs Rules which brings in ‘small entity’ as a new category of applicant in addition to natural person. Moreover, we also look forward to have the Start-ups included in the list of applicants in the Indian Design Laws.
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