Make the world come alive through design

CIPAM team

Through the past couple of editions, we have familiarized ourselves with the dynamic, exciting and wondrous world of Intellectual Property (IP). Young innovators and creators in India are actively tinkering with the world around them and have been presenting disruptive ideas to the world on an almost daily basis. This has led to an increase in the relevance of IP education for students.

Teachers around the globe are now encouraging their students to protect what they create. We now know that technological inventions are protected under the IP right known as patents. For the protection of brands under which goods and services are provided, trademark registration is beneficial. And finally, when it comes to safeguarding our literary, artistic, musical and cinematographic expressions, a copyright registration can help us live worry free.

In this article, we are going to discuss one last major private IP right which can prove beneficial for students. This IP right is called Design. Every morning we kickstart our day with design – from the objects around us to the spaces we operate in, our eyes are met with thousands of new designs! Design is an up and coming area of business and a great demand exists for creative designers in the field of product design, textile design and industrial design amongst others.

What is a design?
A ‘design’ is a shape, pattern, arrangement of lines or colour combination that is applied to any article. The Intellectual Property Right of design is a protection given to eye-catching features that are not functional or useful. For example, a bottle having a unique shape with labels and embellishments can be registered as design. Did you know that unique patterns on textiles and clothes can also be protected under design?

Just as is the case for patents, trademarks and copyrights, design is also an exclusive right of the creator. This means without the permission of the design owner, nobody can reproduce or create copies of the protected design.

Introducing the subject to students
Distribute a plain sheet of paper and art supplies amongst the students. Ask the students to design their own version of any one of the above mentioned objects – a shoe, a chair, a pen or a rocket! Once the students complete their designs, invite a few of them to share and describe their design with the entire class. Applaud the students for their efforts and tell them that they have all produced ideas for products that can be registered as a design!

What can be protected under design?
Not every design can be registered. For a design to be registered in the country, we must take care of the following few points –

  • The design should be new or original, not previously published or used in any country.
  • Design means the shape or pattern applied to an article. Therefore, calendars, greeting cards, stamps and cartoons cannot be protected as designs.
  • The design should be applied or applicable to any article by an industrial process. And so, normally, designs of artistic nature like painting, sculptures, etc., which are not produced in bulk by an industrial process are not granted registration.
  • The features of the design in the finished article should appeal to and be judged only by a person’s eyes. A mere functional or mechanical feature cannot be registered as a design. For example, a key having its novelty only in its shape at the portion intended to open the lock cannot be registered as a design under the Design Act. It is both functional and mechanical.

Always remember, anything that can be registered as a trademark or copyright cannot be registered as a design.

Term and benefits of a design
We are familiar with the fact that IP Rights are granted for a particular term. A design is not registered forever. This exclusive IP right is given to the creators initially for 10 years. On completion of these 10 years, the registration can be extended for another 5 years. Thus, the total term of a design registration is maximum 15 years.

With a design registration, the IP owner can exclude others from making, using, reproducing and selling their design. If someone tries to steal your creation or copies it without your permission, the design registration gives you legal rights to take action against such an individual or organization. A registered design can only be used after getting a license from its owner for an agreed fee.

How to register a design?
To register a design, an application is to be made to the Controller for the registration of designs. Here is what students need to know about filing such an application –

  • All information on filing a design can be obtained on the website of the Design Office –
  • The application can be filed offline, at one of the four IP offices in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai or Kolkata. All these applications are forwarded to the Kolkata office for processing.
  • The application can also be filed online at the above mentioned website.
  • Every application for registration shall be filed in Form-1 along with the prescribed fee, stating the full name, address, nationality, name of the article, class number and address.
  • The application shall state the class in which the design is to be registered and the article or articles to which the design is to be applied.
  • The application needs to be submitted with a fee. Once the application is filed, it is examined by examiners in the Indian Design Office. After passing through the examination stage, a design is registered to the applicant!

Always remember – do not disclose your design to the public before getting it registered!

In recent years, the government has given thrust to design in higher education by establishing four new National Institutes of Designs. The NIDs are institutes of national importance which provide quality design education to budding designers of the nation and nurture them into competent professionals. Design is a field of endless possibilities and opportunities and is now seen as a tool for improving human lives.

Now that the students are familiar with all the four basic Intellectual Property Rights, towards the end of the conversation, the teacher can play the following game of Riddle me that with the student –

For more information and online resources to talk to students on the subject, teachers can visit the website

The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), is set up under the aegis of the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. CIPAM addresses the identified objectives of the National IPR Policy. If any school is interested in organizing an IPR awareness session for their students, they may write to

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