Sunday, August 12, 2012
Registration and Protection of Designs in India
In India registration and protection of Designs are regulated by Designs Act 2000 and Designs rules 2001. Design is defined under Section 2 of Designs Act 2000 as only the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament or composition of lines or colours applied to any article whether in two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process or means, whether manual mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye; but does not include any mode or principle of construction or anything which is in substance a mere mechanical device, and does not include any trade mark as defined in clause (v) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 (43 of 1958) or property mark as defined in section 479 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any artistic work as defined in clause (c) of section 2 of the Copyright Act, 1957(14 of 1957). A design is prohibited from registration on the grounds mentioned under Section 4 of the relevant Act, i.e.,
a) that the design is not new
b) that it has been previously published in India or in any other country by publication in tangible form or by use in or in any other way prior to the filing date, or where applicable, the priority date, or where applicable, the priority date of the application for registration; or
c) that it has been significantly distinguishable from known designs or d) comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter. Further, a design is subject to cancellation on the grounds mentioned under Section 19 of the relevant Act, i.e., a) that the design has been previously registered in India,
b) that it has been previously published in India or in any other country prior to the date of registration or c) that the design is not a new or original design or c) that the design is not registrable under this Act; or
e) that it is not a design as defined under clause (d) of section 2.
Although in India design has not been classified further into categories according to Designs Act 2000, but it has been observed that Indian Courts classify the design in question into aesthetic and functional. An aesthetic design is one which is applied to any article, whether for the pattern or the shape or the configuration or the ornamentation thereof, or for any two or more of those purposes, and by whatever means it is applied, having features which appeal to and are judged solely by the eye, irrespective of the aesthetic quality thereof. A functional design means any design applied to any article, whether for the pattern or the shape or the configuration thereof, or for any two or more of those purposes, and by whatever means it is applied, having features which are necessitated by the function which the article to which the design is applied is to perform. In India the landmark judgment which acted as precedent for subsequent cases was passed in Bharat Glass Tube Limited v. Gopal Glass Works Limited. In this case the the Court gave interpretation of Section 2 (d) stating “Designs has been defined in Section 2(d) which means that a feature of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament or composition of lines or colors applied to any article whether in two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process. That means that a feature or a pattern which is registered with registering authority for being produced on a particular article by any industrial process whether manual, mechanical or chemical or by any other means which appears in a finished article and which can be judged solely by eye appeal. The definition of design as defined in Section 2(d) read with application for registration and rule 11 with form 1 makes it clear that the design which is registered is to be applied to any finished article which may be judged solely by eye appeal. A conjoined reading of these three provisions makes it clear that a particular shape or a particular configuration is to be registered which is sought to be produced on any finished article which may be judged solely by eye appeal. However the judgment passed in Interlego v. Tyco Industries, the landmark British case which was pertaining to designs of toy bricks originated in Hong Kong and eventually was filed before the Privy Council in the United Kingdom acted as guiding principle for cases in India. In that the Privy Council observed that the bricks qualified for registered design protection, and thus did not qualify for copyright protection. Lord Oliver observed as follows -
“Inevitably a designer who sets out to make a model brick is going to end up by producing a design, in essence brick shaped. […] There is clearly scope in the instant case for that argument that what gives the Lego brick its individuality and the originality without which it would fail for want of novelty as a registrable design is the presence of features which serve only the functional purpose of enabling it to interlock effectively with the adjoining bricks above and below”.
The court further held that design drawings were a combination of both artistic and literary works. The written matter on such a drawing comprised the literary matter, and the graphics the artistic matter.
The only changes made to the drawings were alterations to some radii and to the dimensions of some elements. Lord Oliver further observed-
“Take the simplest case of artistic copyright, a painting or a photograph. It takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an "original" artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”
In India designs are protected by two legal rights, they are as follow:
1) Registered Designs
2) Artistic Copyright
Design registration in India gives the owner, a monopoly on his or her design, i.e. the right for a limited period to stop others from making, using or selling the design without the owner’s permission and is additional to any design right or copyright protection that may exist automatically in the design.
Under Section 6
(1) a design may be registered in respect of any or all of the articles comprised in a prescribed class of articles.
(2)Any question arising as to the class within which any article falls shall be determined by the Controller whose decision in the matter shall be final.
(3)Where a design has been registered in respect of any article comprised in a class of article, the application of the proprietor of the design to register it in respect of some one or more other articles comprised in that class of articles shall not be refused, nor shall the registration thereof invalidated—
Under Section 7 the Controller shall, as soon as may be after the registration of a design, cause publication of the prescribed particulars of the design to be published in such manner as may be prescribed and thereafter the design shall be open to public inspection.
Under Section 11when a design is registered, the registered proprietor of the design shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, have copyright in the design during ten years from the date of registration.
To conclude with, a design is entitled to be registered and protected from being copied and applied on the same article and of the same class of articles which is not merely functional but has an aesthetic appeal to eye. At the same time a design is entitled of copyright which is absolutely original and has not been copied from any other class of articles.
By Ranidipa Ghosh
For Biswajit Sarkar