What is industrial design, how do you go about protecting it and what are its advantages?
Among the different kinds of intellectual property rights (IPR), one of the most important ones is industrial design. Companies go enormous lengths to protect industrial design because it gives them a competitive edge in the market and a lot of energy and resources goes into developing them. If competitors are allowed to copy the industrial design without the owner’s consent, there would be little incentive to develop new ways of improving things. It will act as a dampener to innovation.
So naturally, industrial design intellectual property rights are critical for a modern economy. So what exactly is industrial design? According to the World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO), it is a composition of lines and colors or any three-dimensional form, which leaves a unique impression on a product. They maintain the essence of the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of a useful article, which usually appeals to sight and touch senses, and can be reproduced in significant quantities.
Industrial design protection applies to several products, including packaging, lighting, jewelry, electronic goods, textiles and even logos.
Industrial design protection in India
Industrial design intellectual property rights are protected in India by the Designs Act of 2000. Under this, registration offers the proprietor ‘copyright’ in the design, i.e. exclusive right to apply a design to the article belonging to the class in which it is registered. All models that are registered find their place in the Register of Designs, Kolkata. This includes the design number, class number, date of filing (in this country), the name and address of the proprietor and so on.
The registration is for a duration of ten years and can be extended for up to five years. Under the Designs Act, anyone violating the copyright of the design is liable to pay a sum of Rs. 25,000 for every offense to the registered proprietor subject to a maximum of Rs. 50,000 recoverable as contract debt forany one design.
Advantages of industrial design protection
There are many benefits of IPR in industrial design. It would be wise to understand them –
- Monetary gain: The biggest benefit would be the financial gain that would accrue to the owner of the design right. As we mentioned earlier, companies spend a lot of resources to gain an edge over competitors, and good design can help them make a lot of money.
- Unique selling proposition: In a competitive market, companies can get an edge by having a product that looks and feels different/unique. Often consumers make purchase decisions based on the appearance. Industrial design protection enables companies to protect their USP and set their product distinctly apart.
- Selling designs: If a company cannot profit directly from the design developed, they can sell it to third parties and make a profit from its design capabilities.
- Image: Design protection helps build a positive image of a company. Industrial designs are considered critical business assets and can even increase the share price of a company that, in turn, helps sell their products.
The law offers high-level protection for IPR in industrial design. However, infringement of design rights is quite common in India more often than not because of weak enforcement. As competition heightens, the temptation to steal designs is stronger. Hence, it is crucial for the authorities to be more stringent in enforcing design rights. Companies, for their part, should be vigilant about their rights and take proactive measures to protect them.