The protection of industrial designs is administered by a legislative framework which is in sync with advances in technology and concomitant international developments. The Designs Act, 2000 sets the statutory framework and has been in force since May 11 2001. The Act provides for minimum standards of protection for industrial designs, as mandated by the TRIPS Agreement and conforms to the international trends in design administration. The Designs Rules 2001 (as amended in 2014), streamlines the procedural aspects of receiving, processing and granting registrations to design applications in India and recognizes priority for the applicants from the Paris Convention and/or WTO member countries.

To take forward the mandate of India's first National IPR Policy announced in 2016, the Government of India has initiated several infrastructure and capacity building programs at the Indian Design Office to raise it services to the international standards. The Annual Report released by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM) of India for the year 2016-2017 demonstrates these achievements and some of the salient features of that are as follows:

  • Electronic filing facility for new design applications was upgraded to facilitate its better functioning.
  • Examination period of new applications reduced from 8 months to 1 month by March 2017. Measures initiated to process the old applications to bring down the present pendency.
  • Number of new design applications increased to 10213 in 2016-17 as compared to 8,276 applications filed in the preceding year. Similarly the number of application examined in 2016-17 increased to 11940 from 8,332 applications examined in the preceding years.
  • Out of 11,940 applications examined during the reporting period, examination reports were issued in 9718 applications and 56 applications were disposed through refusal or abandonment.
  • During the reporting year, 1360 applications were filed for renewal of registered designs and 890 registered designs were renewed and actions were initiated for rest of the cases. 58 applications for restoration of design were filed during the year and 7 applications were restored.

The filing trend and examination, registration of design applications are shown as follows:

Year 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Filed 8,337 8,533 9,327 11,108 10,213
Examined 6,776 7,281 7,459 9,426 11,940
Registered 7,252 7,178 7,147 7,904 8,276
Disposed 7,300 7,226 7,218 8,023 8,332

Miscellaneous proceedings before the Design Office including cancellation, inspection, correction requests etc.

  1. Cancellation of registered designs [u/s 19]: During 2016-17, 81 petitions for the cancellation of the registered designs were filed and decisions were issued in 56 applications out of which in 20 cases petitions were allowed and 36 petitions were dismissed.
  2. Alteration of names and address etc. [u/r 31]: 2014 requests for alteration of name, address, and address for service were received during the year, out of which 1764 cases were disposed and orders issued.
  3. Correction of clerical error [u/s 29]: During the reporting year 54 requests for correction of clerical errors were received and all of them were disposed during the year.
  4. Certified copies under rule 41 and section 17 (2): During the year, 530 requests were filed and all of them were disposed during the year.

Registered Designs in Force in India:

Number of registered designs in force at the end of 2016-17 are 76281.

Applications from Indian and foreign origin:

The number of applications that were filed by Indian nationals in 2016-17 was 6292 while 3921 applications were filed by foreign nationals. The trend of filing ratio for the past five years is as under:

Year Indian Applicants Foreign Applicants Total
2012-13 5428 2909 8337
2013-14 5530 3003 8533
2014-15 6505 2822 9327
2015-16 7895 3213 11108
2016-17 6292 3921 10213

Leading top 5 applicants of Indian and foreign origin during the year 2016-17:

Top Indian applicants Sabyasachi Couture Siddhi Vinayak Knots & Prints Pvt. Ltd. Siddharath Bindra Tube Investments of India Ltd Ma Design India Private Ltd
No. of applications filed 308 242 151 112 110
Top Foreign applicants Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Scania CV AB Honda Motor Co. Ltd. LG Electronics Inc. Koninkilijke Philips N.V.
No. of applications filed 180 177 102 85 76

India has a well-defined regulatory and institutional framework for the protection of industrial designs. Essential criteria for protection have been prescribed and are in line with international standards. The procedural formalities for filing design applications are simple and time constrained. It is important that the applicants ensure the procedural requirements carefully, as bulk of Indian design applications are rejected on procedural issues, while very few rejections are due to lack of fulfilment of substantive criteria. Thus, it is important to ensure that both the application form and the representation sheet comply with the guidelines so that design applications are processed speedily and efficiently.

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