The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, has notified the Designs (Amendment) Rules, 2021 on January 25, 2021. The amended Rules introduce start-ups (both Indian and Foreign) as a new category of design applicant and brings them on equal footing with small entities and natural persons in terms of reduced fee benefits as compared to a large entity.
- Introduction of start-ups as a new category of design applicant. If it is an Indian entity, it must be recognised as a start-up by the DPIIT under the Start-up India initiative. If the applicant is a foreign entity, it must fulfil the criteria for turnover and period of incorporation or registration under the Start-up India Initiative and must submit a declaration to that effect.
- Introduction of electronic communication through registered mobile number and email address of the applicant or its authorized agent.
- Official fees are further reduced for small entities. With this, the official fees for start-ups, small entities and natural persons are now equivalent. In case of transfer of rights from a natural person and/or start-up and/or small entity to a large entity, any deficit fees would have to be paid.
- Introduction of the International Classification for Industrial Designs (Locarno Classification-WIPO). This is subject to fulfilment of requirements of a Design as defined under sections 2(a) and 2(d) of the Indian Design Act.
The amended Rules bring consistency in benefits extended in terms of reduced official fee to start-ups and small entities as those available to patent applicants in India under the Indian Patents Act, 1970. These amendments will surely encourage start-ups and small entities to seek design protection in India.