The Indian Patent Office, on the very first day of the year published a notice informing the public of coming into force of new Design Rules from 30th December, 2014. The new rules besides making changes in the official fee structure also introduce a new entity for calculation of applicable fee and a new form for claiming reduced fee for being a small entity.

Amendments in Design Rules:

The New Design Rules do not make any significant changes to the procedure and are limited to the changes in fee structure and certain administrative functions. The erstwhile Design Rules did not make a distinction between an individual, a small entity or a large entity and same official fee was applicable to each category of applicant. However, with the recent amendments, the applicant has to identify itself with any one of the three categories (Natural Person, Other than Natural Person-Small Entity and Other than Natural Person- others except small entity) and pay the applicable fee. In case the applicant belongs to a small entity, the application needs to be accompanied by a separate form to prove the status of the applicant as a small entity and eligibility to claim reduced fee.

The new rules have brought significant changes in respect of applicable fees. The revised fee structure introduces the increased fee for filing of design applications as well as for other proceedings under the Design Act. The changes in the fee are reflected in the accompanied Table 1. The rules further clarify that in case of joint applicants, fee applicable to highest category of applicant will be applicable and in case there is a change in the status of the applicant- difference in fee, in case applicable will need to be paid for further processing of the application.

Our Views: With Trademarks and Patents being at the forefront of IP Protection and enforcement, Design rights have largely been lagging (While more than 20000 Patent and more than 100, 000 Trademark applications were filed in India from January 2014- September 2014, the same period witnessed the filing of less than 5000 Design applications in India)1. It was expected that the office will soon start online filings and do away with the filings and prosecution of Design rights only through manual offline filings, however, same has not been introduced, Also, the office has to introduce an online search facility for identification of similar designs.

With increased revenue expected from enhanced fee and Governments allocation of funds for up gradation of IP offices across India, it is expected that the office will take steps to encourage filings of Design applications online and upgrade its search facilities to allow for the search of designs as well, which has already been rolled out in case of Trademarks and Patents.

Table 1: Official Fees for a Design Application in India (effective from January 1, 2015)

Click here to view table.