This article on ‘Prior Protection of Designs under Design Act, 2000’ was written by Tanaya Khilari, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The article highlights the meaning of designs and their protection under the Design Act 2000. It gives information about the various regulatory framework surrounding the use of designs, the term of protection provided to designs, and the various types of design. The Design Act 2000 has been developed and introduced in the Companies Act to ensure efficient regulation and protection of designs. Designs have been in existence for quite a long time. They help to make the product more creative for the company and help promote it to a wider audience. These designs can be copied and need to be protected to ensure authenticity and originality in them.
What are Designs?
A design can be defined as an idea for the development of a product. Design is the process of developing a design. The person producing design is defined as a designer. It is a construction of a symbol or object which represents a product. Designs are relatively more concerned with the formation of a strategy to popularize a product than the aesthetic itself.
There are primarily 4 aspects of design: Conceptual elements, Visual elements, Relational elements, and Practical elements. These elements are primarily used in the development of designs. In the field of business, designs can be classified into business, enterprise, products, and execution design. Designs help in the marketing of the product and also in communicating the product to a larger audience.
Design Act, 2000:
Designs were earlier governed under the Designs Act, 1911. Due to the various technological improvements and various introductions of international laws the development or introduction of a new design act was felt. Hence came into existence the Design Act 2000. The Designs Act is more commonly known as intellectual property law.
It is primarily governed by the Companies Act, of 2013 and falls into the category of various intellectual laws such as copyright, patent, trademark laws, etc. Design highlights the features of shape, configuration, or composition of various elements. They are applicable in various dimensional figures using manual or mechanical processes. The Design Act 2000 requires the designs to be registered to be valid.
Registration of Designs under Design Act, 2000:
The designs are protected under the Design Act 2000. This act requires the designs to be registered to be valid in the eyes of law. Hence under section 5 of the Design Act 2000, any person who claims to have designed are formed the design needs to apply for registration.
The act has specified various important requirements for registration. These include that the design must be new or original. It should not be disclosed anywhere in the country or worldwide. It should be separable from the other designs registered and must have no similarity to them.
The design must not be inappropriate and not contain any discreditable features. This design can be registered by giving an application in Form-1. This must contain the details of the proprietor and the design. In this way, the designs are registered after proper scrutiny and henceforth protected under the act.
Protection of Designs under Design Act, 2000:
The design which is registered under the Design Act 2000 is given protection under the act. The duration of such designs is specified in the act. This protection is provided under the act for an initial term of 10 years. This highlights that the design is registered for 10 years. Upon completion of 10 years, this registration needs to be renewed. The registration is renewed for 5 years further. Hence the total term of protection of a design can be attributed to an initial term of 10 years and an extendible term of 5 years. This protection of design can be opposed or canceled by the patent officer under section 19.
The reasons for which it can be opposed are that the design was previously published elsewhere, the design is similar to some other design, or it is not new or original. The registration protecting the design has many benefits. Companies attribute design to a product to make it public and make it known to the people. They associate a specific design with it and promote it. The customers who purchase the product usually getting attracted to the design. They associate the design to the product or the company and promote it among their peers through it.
Infringment of Designs and its Remedies:
Many times design is infringed due to illegal activities surrounding it. This can be like an imitation of a registered design without authorization. The proprietor in this case can file a suit against the infringer. He can initiate a cease or desist order against the infringer. The infringer in this case has to pay nominal damages to the owner in proportion to the loss that occurred. The person is liable to pay a sum of Rs. 25000 or up to Rs. 50000. This amount can be utilized to recover the infringement.
Civil remedies are provided to the proprietor in case of infringement. He can claim damages and file a suit for an injunction. He is also eligible for a claim over the design by showcasing important and appropriate documents. He can also stop the buying of products and confiscate the same.
Criminal remedies are also provided to the owner or claimant of the design. This remedy is provided by the Copyright Act section 63. This requires the person to serve an imprisonment of up to 6 months extended up to 3 years. Also a fine of Rs. 50000 to Rs. 200000 is imposed upon the person. In more grievous cases the imprisonment is 1 year to 3 years and a fine of 1 lakh rupees to 2 lakh rupees.
Conclusion and Suggestions
As highlighted in the article designs are symbols or structures used to develop a product or brand image. The owner needs to register them and thereafter they are protected. The designs prove to be useful in manifold ways. They have been representing various categories of products and also help to identify the product easily. These designs need to be protected. The primary reason is that the customer attaches to the product, company, and its value through the design. They identify and further promote the product if they come across the design on some hoardings or places.
Many customers also get attracted to the creative designs and show a willingness to purchase the same. Hence these designs can be considered the brand image or identity of the company. The law to protect these design is in place. However, still, there are situations where these designs are infringed or as you can say copied. More stringent amendments need to be made in the act and more protection needs to be given to the design.
Strict penalties must be introduced as sums such as 1 lakh or 2 lakh are mere amounts to many people out there. Hefty punishments and long imprisonments might help to create a state of fear in the minds of people before they infringe the same.
- Wikipedia, Dictionary meanings by Cambridge dictionaries.
- Konpal Rae and Sunil Tyagi, Design protection in India, (14 February 2012).
- S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates, Protection and Enforcement of Design Rights In India, (17 September 2020).
- Forbes Technology Council, 10 Effective ways to protect your intellectual property.