THE DESIGNS ACT, 2000

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The industrial designs are part of Intellectual Property which refers to innovative activity that gives formal or attractive appearance to an article. The creation of a particular design is the result of human intellect which needs legal protection in the national and global level. The Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) prescribes the standards and principles to be maintained to protect industrial designs by the nations. The fundamental idea to protect industrial designs is to encourage innovative activity in industrial fields. In India, industrial designs are covered under the Designs Act, 2000 to grant protection for innovative works in industrial sector. The Designs Act in India has conformed to international principles prescribed under different Conventions and Treaties.

The Act states that Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks appointed under the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 shall Act as the Controller of Designs under the present Act. To discharge the functions under the Act, the Central Government is empowered to appoint examiners and other officials according to its discretion. A design shall not be registered if such design is not novel or innovative; the design is revealed to the public; difficult to distinguish from any other design and design includes outrageous or obscene theme. Any person who claims to be the owner of the design shall file an application before the Controller in the prescribed manner. Before granting registration, the Controller shall refer the application to the examiner and the examiner shall verify whether the design comply with necessary standards.

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When the design is registered, the owner shall obtain a Certificate of Registration from the Controller. The details of the registered design and the details of the owner shall be entered in a register to be kept in the patent office. The registration of the design grants the owner copyright in such design for a term of ten years. To extend the registration for a period of five years, an application shall be provided to the Controller before expiry of the first term of ten years. The Act confers right on any related person to file a petition for cancelling registration at any time subsequent to registration.

The Act provides for the initiation of legal proceedings for committing piracy in registered design. The aggrieved person is entitled to obtain minimum compensation of Rs 25,000  by filing a petition before the District Court. The person claiming to be the owner of a design shall pay prescribed fee for application as well as for registration. The Controller of Designs shall exercise the powers of a civil court in discharging his functions. The discretionary power conferred on the Controller shall not be used detrimental to the needs of the applicant. Any aggrieved person can file an appeal before the High court against the order of the Controller. The Central government is empowered under the Act to formulate rules to execute the provisions of the Act.

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The Designs Act, 1911 was repealed by the present Act due to many drawbacks and shortcomings. In 2001, the Department of Industrial policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry framed Designs Rules to implement the provisions of Designs Act, 2000. The rules were amended by formulating the Designs (Amendment) Rules in 2008. The Designs Act, 2000 has promoted rapid transformations in the technological and industrial activities. The Act has also accelerated the growth of industrialized zones in the international economy as well. In the globalized economy the legislation has made drastic changes in the scientific and commercial field and has managed to maintain international standards in creating industrial designs. Therefore, current legislation is very essential to grant copyright in industrial designs as part of Intellectual Property.