Imagine, you have launched a business for manufacturing soap and perfume making. You have crafted soaps in unique shapes and sizes then the usual ones sold in the market.  Initially it was a great hit due to its unique shape and size. But later you started to notice that your competitors are also selling similar products with the same designs that are sold in amazon, flipkart and other online platforms and the potential customers were diverted to the competitor’s business. This could happen to your business if you fail to register the designs of your product.  

This is the most common mistake committed not only by start-ups but companies of all sizes. They tend to publish or sell their products with such unique designs but pays little attention to protect their proprietary rights under design registration. It is so important for every entrepreneur to understand that once your design is published or disclosed on any public domain platform, you will immediately lose the right to registration. This article will give us a clear picture of the importance of design protection for companies.

Why is design registration necessary?

We have listed out a few reasons why industrial designs registration is necessary for Companies:

Industrial design is a mechanism wherein the design is applied to products produced through various bulk production processes. 

Benefits of design registration:

  • A good and novel design makes any product or ornament attractive and appealing to the eyes, thereby improvising its commercial value and enhancing the marketability of the product.
  • Design protection authorizes the author to the right to sue the infringer (person or entity) involved in imitation of the design of the creator. This implies that the registered design of the product is genuine and novel and is exclusive to the owner.
  • Design registration protects the visual traits of products/packaging. Copyrights on these definitely provide sufficient coverage. However, validity may be questioned later. In such cases, design registration is the perfect substitute for proof of the existence of certain rights.  
  • Addition to the designs adds individual character to the design.
     

What do companies do with the designs?

  • There is an abundance of similar products in the market, and the only point of difference between the brand of a particular good is the uniqueness and novelty in their design.
     
  •  A company or business providing creative and innovative product design implies that it listens to, takes into consideration, and responds to the needs and desires of consumers.
     
  • Industrial Designing helps fulfill the needs of society to have more trendy and fashionable goods. For example, the traditional cloth bag has now been substituted with the latest designer bags.
     
  • In the era of Customization, products to appeal to specific market segments are a must. Keeping the main function the same, improvising the demand increases the sales of the product.
     
  • Creative designs are often also combined with distinctive trademarks to enhance the distinctiveness of a company’s brand(s).

Where do they go wrong?

If you wish to protect your industrial design, keeping the design confidential is absolutely crucial. The most important requirement for design protection in India is that the design must be “new or novel.” If you showcase your design to others for their opinion or viewpoint, it is always advisable to have confidentiality clauses in written agreements, clarifying that the design is confidential and signed by the receiving party before any disclosure.

A design that has already been disclosed to the public by, for example, advertising it in your company’s catalog or brochure may no longer be considered “new or unique or novel”. It more or less becomes a part of the public domain and, once done that way, cannot be protected after six months of such exhibition or unless the priority of an earlier application can be claimed.

The following are the identified reasons how and where companies goes wrong!!

  1. Showcasing to investors for Funding
  2. Publishing on YouTube for better marketing
  3. Posting it on social media to increase business reach 
  4. Selling without protecting
  5. Disclosing before launching without any NDA Agreement

Therefore, it is always advisable to protect the design and then put it out on the market. The chronology has to be followed; otherwise, the design though novel or unique, will lack protection by law, and in case of any infringement, imitations, or copying, you might not be able to protect your work. In the worst-case scenario, the one to who you may disclose the design may apply it before you, and you might not be able to bring any claims or actions against that person.

Going by the saying- prevention better than cure and Better to do it now than regret later- Protect the design and then Publish it.