India: Design Piracy In India

Last Updated: 2 August 2016
Article by Aayush Sharma and Martand Nemana

Most Read Contributor in India, September 2016


Industrialisation and innovation have been revolving upon the theory of value for money. The consumer always tries to gain value of the product from its utility whereas the producer aims at harvesting profits from the investment to develop the product. Given the plethora of options available, preference would always be given for the product with original innovation, novelty and distinctiveness. To reflect globalization, registration of a novel designs is now a common practise amongst every enterprise as they try to keep their product ahead & superior to others. Racing to protect one's own design, these enterprises face a crucial threat of design infringement for their registered design.

The intellectual assets developed by these enterprises are vulnerable and stand prey to infringement. Though there are many strict provisions in IP laws dealing with infringement issues but they are not capable enough for protecting the intellectual assets. Industrial Design, has been serving as a secondary source for protection of products made by an enterprise on the basics of their appealing nature and novelty. These are granted for a period of 10 years from the date of filing and are further renewed for a period of five years accordingly. The main intension behind the registration of the design is to gain monetary value and protection. The monetary gain and protection are both hampered once the design is infringed by another party. To keep a check, the Indian government recently announced its National IPR policy, which compliant with the World Trade Organisation's agreement on Trade Related aspects of IPRs (TRIPS) and moreover the policy also has been keen upon increasing awareness for generation and effective enforcement of IPR, besides encouragement of IP commercialisation through various incentives. The IPR policy mainly highlights the issue of infringement in Patents, design and Trademark and the steps being taken by the authority to stop the practise of infringement or piracy in Indian jurisdiction respectively1.

Design is defined as "drawing or the deception of an original plan for a novel pattern, model, shape, configuration, that is chiefly decorative or ornamental."

The proprietor of the registered design has the exclusive rights to sell, make, license or to use articles embodying such design. In Design Act, 2000, Section 22 actively deals with the piracy of the registered design in India. According to the law, the Piracy of design is considered for any person:

  • for the purpose of sale, make or license use any of the design as registered under the Design Act, 2000 without the written consent or license of the registered proprietor;
  • applies to the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation tries for the purpose of sale, of any article in any class of article in which the design has been registered without the consent of the registered proprietor
  • Publish or expose or cause to be published or exposed for sale that article, knowing that the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation there has been applied to any article in any class of article where the design is registered.

Taking into consideration the above stated section it would not be lawful to apply for a registered design, or a fraudulent or obvious imitation of such, to an article or to import, publish or expose an article to which such a design has been applied in the same class of articles in which the design is registered, without the consent from the registered owner. In response to this the said section also highlights provisions for one who acts in contraventions of this section which includes filing suit to recover a nominal sum from the infringer as a contract debt or seeking damages and an injunction against misuse of the design.

In the Piracy of registered design, every resemblance doesn't seem to be the action of infringement or imitation. An obvious imitation is, one where immediately strikes another design as being so similar to the original registered design, to be almost impossible to differentiate. The most common method to identify infringement as stated in (Veeplast v Bonjour, 2011): the two products need not be placed side by side, but rather examined from the point of view of a customer with average knowledge and imperfect recollection. The main consideration is whether the broad features of shape, configuration and pattern are similar to one another2.

Further as per s. 19 of the Design Act, 2000 which provides a provision to a registered proprietor for cancellation of registration of design on the various grounds such as novelty etc. All grounds available to a person seeking cancellation may be adopted as a defence in infringement proceedings. In Steelbird v Gambhir (2014)3 the Delhi High Court upheld the defendants' plea that the design was neither novel nor original and thus it is not eligible for protection under the design law. The court vacated the injunction.


In the case of Dabur India Ltd. v. Rajesh Kumar and Ors [2008] 4 the Delhi high court has raised the questions against the frivolous Design litigation. The Court in the case seems to have given due regards to all the aspects appended to the use of the bottle's design in question and going beyond the tenets of design law, the Court has taken into consideration practicalities mainly.

In Marico v Raj Oil (2008) 5 the court held that caps were articles as defined under the Designs Act and were "capable of being made and sold separately". However, an injunction in this instance was refused, since the rival caps were dissimilar.

In Troikaa v Pro Labs6 (2008) the defendant was restrained from manufacturing, marketing and using tablets that were similar in shape and colour to the plaintiff's tablet, as it had registered the shape and configuration under the Designs Act.


Better protection of the design infringement law in India is an actual need of the hour. The design law needs to be clearer regarding the laws of registration of design and more precisely the laws related to protection of registered design proprietor. There should be proper deterrent remedies including stringent fines. Further, the Design Office needs to review its examination procedure and include more thorough novelty searches to ensure that when applicants are granted a right, they can be reasonably sure that it is stable and can be relied upon to prevent misuse. The Design Office also needs to improve its e-filing initiative and make design records available online. The prior art search up to most extent can be useful for limiting the cases of design infringement in India. As in the cases of Patent, every inventor wishes to first go for prior art search so that the risk of infringement can be minimised, in the same way a proper search system should be created in the Industrial design system in India. Within the existing legislative framework, courts in India have also helped in maintaining the rights of the registered proprietor and in providing clear observation of the law.








To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.