The Designs Act, 2000 which came into effect from May 11, 2001 replacing the earlier Designs Act, 1911. The salient features of the new Design Law are enumerated below:
1. A provision claiming priority from a Design application filed in any Convention country has been introduced. India is a member of WTO, Paris convention and has also signed Patent Co-operation Treaty. As a result members to these conventions can claim priority rights.
2. International classification based upon Locarno classification has been adopted wherein the classification is based on articles -the subject matter of design. Under the previous law a ‘Design’ was classified on the basis of the material of which the article was made.
3. Under new law, a Design registration can now be obtained for new or original features of shape, configuration pattern, ornamentation or composition of lines or colours as applied to an article, whether in 2 or 3 dimensions or both.
4. A concept of “absolute novelty” has been introduced whereby a ‘novelty’ would now be judged based on prior publication of an article not only in India but also in other countries. Under the previous law, the position was ambiguous.
5. A Design registration has been brought within the domain of the public records right from the date it is physically placed on the Register. Any member of public can take inspection of the records and obtain a certified copy of the entry. In the previous Act, there was a 2-year confidential period -post registration -which prohibited taking inspection/certified copy of any entry in the records.
6. A Design registration would be valid for 10 years (from the date of registration which is also the date of application) renewable for a further period of 5 years. Under the previous law the validation period was 5 years which was extendable for 2 terms of 5 years each.
7. A Design registration can be restored within a year from its last date of expiry. Under the previous law, no provision relating to restoration upon expiration of the Design registration was provided.
8. Cancellation of a Design registration under the new law is possible only before the Controller and there are a couple of additional grounds which have been recognized:-
(a) The subject matter of Design not registerable under the Act
(b) The subject matter does not qualify as a ‘Design’ under the Act.
Under the previous Act, the cancellation was provided for before the Controller within 12 months from registration on limited grounds and in the High Court within 12 months or thereafter.
9. Under the new Act, a District Court has been given power to transfer a case to the High Court -having jurisdiction -in the event the Defendant challenges the validity of Design registration.
10. As regards assignment of Design registration under the new law, it has been made mandatory to have the same registered with the Authorities within six months from the date of execution or within an extended time period of six months.