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Design Infringement in India: Complete Overview

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Last Updated on July 11, 2024 by Sachin Jaiswal

Design protection is becoming increasingly important for Indian businesses and artists as intellectual property laws are constantly changing. Design infringement is a complicated issue that could greatly impact the growth of many industries. This blog tries to give a complete picture of design infringement in India by talking about what it is, the defenses that are needed, relevant case laws, the offender’s duties, and possible punishments.

Definition of Design Infringement in India

Section 22(2) of the Designs Act, 2000 describes design infringement as the act of importing, selling, or producing any item to which the design has been applied or which exactly fits that in which it was used without the registered owner’s permission. The fine for this kind of violation shouldn’t be more than ₹50,000. Design infringement in India is mainly handled by the Designs Act 2000, which took over from the Designs Act 1911 in terms of law. The Designs Act of 2000 has many parts that protect the intellectual property rights of producers and artists.

Fundamental Needs for Design Protection

In India, for a design to be eligible for design registration, it must meet the following essential criteria:

  • Originality and Novelty: The design should be creative or new and not obvious to someone with ordinary artistic ability. This means that it has to be very distinct from any existing designs or typical designs in the industry.
  • Use in Industry: The design must be applied—that is, made for application—to any industrial process result. This covers patterns, lines, or colors used in textiles, packaging, and other items.
  • Aesthetics vs. Functionality: Notably, design should focus mainly on the piece’s appearance instead of its usefulness. Designs that are primarily useful in nature cannot be covered under the Designs Act 2000.

Different Indian case laws, such as Bharat Glass Tube Ltd. v. Gopal Gas Works Ltd., have established these basic criteria by stressing the need for a design to be unique and original to be qualified for protection.

Case Rules Concerning Design Infringement in India

India’s vast design infringement case law case history has shaped the Design Act 2000’s conception and interpretation. Among some notable examples are:

  1. Calico Printers Association Ltd.’s case against Ahmed Abdul Karim:

In this case, even if there are little differences, the court ruled that a design is infringed if it is basically the same as the registered design. The court stressed that one should take the general image of the design into account when deciding infringement.

  1. Niki Tasha Pvt. Ltd. against Faridabad Gas Gadgets Pvt. Ltd.:

In this regard, the court ruled that a design is infringed if exactly the authorized design is used, regardless of minor changes or variances.

  1. Micro lube India against Rakesh Kumar:

This case involved copying the design for a lubricant bottle. The court ruled that the registered owner was due damages as the infringing design somewhat resembled the registered design.

  1. Good Earth Against Krishna Mehta:

In this instance, the court gave an order against the infringing party, therefore stopping their production or sales of goods and breaking the registered design.

These case laws have guided designers and manufacturers by helping to define the legal principles and standards for determining design infringement in India.

Liability of the Infringing Party

Under the Designs Act 2000, the infringing party is responsible for registered design violations. The liability of the infringing party could show itself as:

  • Damages: The registered owner of the design can seek damages from the infringing party to offset the loss suffered due to the infringement. Factors such as the degree of the infringement, the wages of the infringing party, and the registered owner’s loss of marketplace share can help determine the damages.
  • Retaking Infringing Articles: By asking the offending party to return the illegal items, the registered owner can also prevent them from benefiting from the infringement in the future.
  • Injunctions: The registered owner can seek injunctions to stop the infringing party from making, importing, or selling the infringing goods or from continuing to violate the law.

The case Steel Bird Hi-tech India Ltd v. SPS Gambhir, where the court granted damages to the registered owner for the infringement of their design, is one instance of the liability of the infringing party.

Available Defences to the Infringing Party

The infringing party might make many arguments against the claims of design infringement. These defenses consist of:

  • Lack of Originality: Should the infringing design be somewhat close to current market designs and not new or unique, the infringing party might argue that the registered design lacks originality and is not qualified for protection.
  • Differences in Function: The offending party might argue that their design should not be regarded as infringing if it differs functionally from the registered design and so should not be considered as such.
  • Ground for Registration Cancellation: The infringement party can also challenge the validity of the registered design by saying that the registration ought to be revoked for several reasons, including lack of originality or novelty.

Successfully raising these defenses by infringers in several cases underlines the need for a strong legal system and the requirement of designers to make sure their registered designs have validity and strength.

Conclusion

A complex and multifarious problem in India, design infringement has major effects on businesses and artists. Understanding the legal framework, necessary requirements for design protection, relevant case laws, liabilities of the infringing party, and available remedies helps designers and manufacturers to better protect their intellectual property rights and guarantee the expansion of the creative and manufacturing sectors in India.

Staying informed and proactive in their approach to design security using the legal tools and remedies at hand can help stakeholders as the design landscape changes. By doing this, they help to create a vibrant environment for innovation and creativity and help the design ecosystem in India to be generally stronger.

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Sachin Jaiswal

Sachin Jaiswal B.A.(Hons)! Sachin Jaiswal has been writing material on his own for more than five years. He got his B.A.(Hons) in English from the well-known University of Delhi. His success in this job is due to the fact that he loves writing and making material that is interesting. He has worked with a lot of different clients in many different fields, always giving them high-quality content that their target audience will enjoy. Through his education and work experience, he is able to produce high-quality content that meets his clients' needs.