Design Patent Guide

Design patents are a means of protecting intellectual property to the extent of its ornate appearances or visual traits. In simpler words, designs patents are used to protect the look and appearance and do not include its functional characteristics.

In the present world, an object’s appearance or unique design can prove to be a valuable asset for its inventor. Large financial investments are made to find the perfect design for various inventions. It is important to note that the product for which design protection is sought has industrial application. However, the protection granted under design patents is limited to the visual appearance only and shall not extend to its utility. Design patents are granted in India under the provisions of the Indian Designs Act. 

Requirements for filing design patents in India:

  • Novel Design: The design for which protection is sought under the Indian Designs Act should not have been a part of the public domain. The design in question needs to be entirely new and original. Even designs that can be easily connected with existing designs within the public domain, with slight modifications, are not deemed acceptable for registration.

  • Industrial Application: The design must belong to an item or a product that has industrial application and is, therefore, useful. Whether such design is used for commercial purposes, or academic or research purposes, or even applied for social causes, the criterion of industrial applicability has to be met.

  • Increase in Value: A design is only entitled to receive protection when it acts as an agent of building value for the product attached to it. Therefore, it should aim to improve the product's appearance, give it a great appeal, and raise its valuation in the market.

  • Visual Appeal: Visual appeal is an essential criterion that design patent applications have to meet. The design has to have an aesthetic value attached to it, thereby serving its primary purpose of making an item or a product appealing to the eyes. Mere technical changes or traits such as just a shape or color of a product cannot be accepted as a registerable design patent. There has to be a substantial improvement of the appearance that the design imbibes in the product. The main idea is that design patent protection should only be sought in cases where the design adds considerable value to the visual attraction that a product has or will have. Reasonableness is the criteria for judging if a design patent application meets the requirement of being aesthetic, visually appealing, and adding value. That is, the design's impact on the eyes and perceptions of any reasonable human mind is considered.

Term of Protection:
Design patents in India are granted protection for ten years. The right holder enjoys several exclusive rights over the design patent during this period, including the right to use and commercially exploit the design. After the expiry of the ten-year term, design patent protection can be renewed for an additional five years by paying a specific renewal fee. Design patents cannot be renewed after the expiry of a fifteen-year term of protection. 

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