Protection for the aesthetic appeal of a product can be obtained by registering a design with the Designs Office in India by filing an application online or with one of the IP Offices in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata or New Delhi. After filing, all subsequent proceedings are conducted by the Designs Office in Kolkata.

The Indian Designs Office follows the 10th Edition of the Locarno Classification. However while the Indian Designs Office has 31 classes in common with Locarno, Class 32 which is for graphic symbols and logos has been replaced in India as a class for miscellaneous goods that don’t fall into any other category.

Being a signatory of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, one can file convention applications claiming priority in India. An applicant from any of these contracting states can file an application in India within 6 months from the earliest date of priority on the basis of the International Application filed under the Paris Convention. A certified copy of the priority document is necessary for claiming priority. The priority document can be submitted after the date of filing the application in India by filing an extension. A maximum of 3 extensions are allowed for the submission of the priority document.

For a design to be registered in India it has to be novel which means it should not have been made public prior to filing the design application. If a product has to be displayed in an exhibition prior to filing an application, special permission has to be sought.

Once filed, a design application is examined by the Designs Office within 2 months. If there are any objections and they are not settled on account of a formal reply within 6 months from the date of communication, a hearing may be appointed. Once the objections are negated or complied with the design will be registered and a copy of the design will be published in the Patent Office Journal. The entire design process takes 8-12 months.

Once registered, a design is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of the application and protection can be extended for a period of 5 years additionally. A design registration cannot be renewed more than once. Legal action can be initiated before the District Courts or High Court of India.

A design once registered can be rectified or cancelled from the designs register by an interested party by filing a petition to cancel the registered design. A registered design can be cancelled if it was not novel, or had been made available to the public prior to the date of filing the application or if it should not have been registered to begin with.

Recording of assignments, change of name, address and representative details are permitted by filing specific applications with the Designs Office.

The process for the registration of designs is the fastest of all the streams of intellectual property in India.

This article has been authored by Durga Bhatt, an IP Law practitioner.

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