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Copyright in Registered Designs

Copyright in Registered Designs


Copyright in registered designs means that the author has the exclusive rights to apply a design to any article in any class. The proprietor of a registered design has the exclusive right to apply such design to all such classes. Copyright in its general sense, confers exclusive rights to the author and thus protects the works from being copied or reproduced. The purpose of design registration is two fold, it not only protects the design from being copied or reproduced but also gives the monopoly to the proprietor to produce articles of the class in which the design has been registered. The protection afforded by design registration is similar to the protection afforded by patenting an invention under the Patents Act, 1970.

Design registration confers following rights on the rights of the registered proprietor:

  1. To apply the design to any article or any class in which the design is registered, the proprietor of a registered design has the exclusive rights for the sale of such articles.
  2. The exclusive right to import for sale any article in which the design is registered.
  3. The exclusive right to publish any article in any class in which the design is registered.

Term of copyright in registered designs

Copyright in a design exists for a period of ten years from the date of registration of design. Thus, the registered proprietor has copyright in the design as soon as the design is registered under the Designs Act, 2000. However, this period can extend for another term of five years, if the registered proprietor makes an application to the Controller in the prescribed manner for extension of the period of copyright before the expiry of ten years. Thus, the Controller may extend the ten year protection period by another five years. The total duration of copyright in design will not exceed the fifteen year period, following which the design will become a part of the public domain.

Restoration of lapsed designs

Where a design has expired due to non-payment of fees for extension of copyright, the proprietor or his legal representative may make an application for restoration of the lapsed design within one year from the date on which the design ceased to have effect with the prescribed fees.

The application should contain statements that are to be verified in the prescribed manner. It should set out the circumstances that led to the failure of paying the fees. The Controller may require more evidence from the applicant on a case by case basis. However, to the satisfaction of the Controller that the failure to pay the fee was unintentional and there has been no undue delay in making the application for extension, the controller shall restore the registration of design on payment of the unpaid fee as well as the additional fee.

Rights of the Registered Proprietor after restoration of lapsed design

After a lapsed design has been restored, the rights of the proprietor of such design will be subject to provisions as prescribed by the controller. He may impose certain restrictions on the right of proprietor like offer compensation to protect the interests of the persons who may have begun to avail themselves of the benefit of applying the design between the date when the design ceased to have effect and the date on which the design was restored. Moreover, no suit for infringement or piracy of registered designs shall stand between these dates.

Requirement before delivery on sales

The proprietor of a registered design should fulfill the following requirements before deliver on sales of any articles:

  1. He should furnish to the controller the prescribed number of exact representations or specimens of the designs (if these representations or specimens were not furnished on the registration application). Failing to do so will result in the Controller sending a notice to the applicant and thereafter removing the proprietor’s name from the register. As a result, copyright in the design will cease to exist.
  2. Each article should be marked with the prescribed mark ( REGISTERED, REGD. or RD) denoting that the design is registered. Unless the proprietor takes this step, he will not be entitled to receive any damages for infringement of copyright in the design.

Effect of disclosure on copyright

Section 16 of the Designs Act, 2000 states that certain disclosures made before the registration of design will not be considered as publication sufficient to invalidate the copyright. They are as follows:

  1. Any disclosure made by someone in breach of good faith to whom the proprietor had disclosed the design.
  2. Acceptance of first and confidential order for articles bearing a new or original textile design that is intended for registration.
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