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Scope and Implications of class of Design Registration in Infringement Cases

This article delves into a recent legal case wherein the issue of the scope of design registration class was raised. The case involves the plaintiff, a manufacturer of crockery products, who sought to protect their registered designs, "DEVANAGIRI" and "BANARAS," against alleged infringement by the defendant, who manufactured cups. The central question before the court was whether the plaintiff's design registration for plates extended to cover the defendant's cups, as both products fell within the same class.

Design Registration and Scope:
Design registration is a legal mechanism that provides exclusive rights to the creator of a novel and original design. In India, the Designs Act, 2000 governs the registration and protection of designs. Section 2(d) of the Act defines "design" as features of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process.

The case under discussion revolved around the interpretation of Section 22(1)(a) of the Designs Act, which states that a registered design cannot be applied by any third person to any article in the class of designs for which registration is granted. This provision is essential in determining the extent of protection that a design registration offers.

Applicability of Section 22(1)(a):
In this case, the plaintiff registered two designs: "DEVANAGIRI" and "BANARAS," which were applied to the surface of plates. However, the defendant produced cups, not plates, and both products were classified under class 07-01. The critical question was whether the protection extended to the defendant's cups based on the same class classification.

The Court's Ruling:
The court's decision hinged on the interpretation of Section 22(1)(a) and the classification system under the Designs Act. The court noted that Class 07-01 covered both plates and cups, among other articles. The plaintiff's design registration explicitly related to plates, but since the defendant's product, cups, fell within the same class, the court found that the protection could extend to them. The defendant was temporarily restrained from using the "DEVANAGIRI" design on their cups until the matter was resolved. However the Defendant was granted time to file reply in so far as "BANARAS," was concern.

This case raises several important legal and practical implications:
Interpretation of Design Registration Class:
The case highlights the significance of the classification of designs under the Designs Act. While registration is specific to the design's application to a particular article, it can also encompass other articles within the same class, as seen in this case.

Protection Beyond the Registered Article:
Design registration not only protects the exact article to which the design is applied but also extends to other articles in the same class. This interpretation reinforces the comprehensive protection provided by design registration.

Importance of Clarity in Registration:
Designers and businesses must be meticulous in specifying the class and the article to which their design applies during the registration process to avoid ambiguity.

Exclusivity of Design Rights:
The ruling reaffirms the exclusive rights granted to design registrants and underscores the importance of vigilance in monitoring potential infringements within the same class.

The concluding Note:
The case discussed in this article serves as a notable example of the complexity of design registration and its implications for the protection of intellectual property rights. The court's interpretation of Section 22(1)(a) reinforces the principle that design protection extends not only to the registered article but also to any article within the same class.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Titled: Nishita Design And Anr Vs Clay Craft India Pvt.Ltd.
Date of Judgement/Order:13/10/2023
Case No. CS(COMM) 737/2023
Neutral Citation No: NA
Name of Hon'ble Court: High Court of Delhi
Name of Hon'ble Judge: C Hari Shankar, H.J.

Information and discussion contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for expert advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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