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Publication of Design Before Application under the Indian Design Act


The Indian Design Act provides a robust legal framework for the protection of industrial designs in India. One important aspect to consider when seeking design registration is the publication of a design before filing an application. This article aims to shed light on the implications of design publication prior to application under the Indian Design Act and the considerations that applicants need to keep in mind.

Design Publication and its Impact:

The publication of a design refers to making the design available to the public through any means, such as display, exhibition, sale, or distribution. Once a design is published, it becomes accessible to others, potentially affecting its novelty and registrability. The Indian Design Act recognizes the significance of design publication and addresses it through the following provisions:

Novelty Requirement:

Under Section 4 of the Indian Design Act, novelty is a crucial prerequisite for design registration. A design will be considered novel if it has not been published in India or elsewhere before the priority date of the application. Thus, any publication of the design before filing the application may impact its novelty and potentially render it ineligible for protection.

Grace Period:

The Indian Design Act provides a grace period of 12 months from the date of first publication for filing a design application. This means that if a design has been published within 12 months prior to the application, the applicant can still seek protection for it. However, it is important to note that the grace period is only applicable in cases where the design was published inadvertently or due to circumstances beyond the control of the applicant.

Design Registration vs. Unregistered Design Rights:

If a design has been published before filing an application, it may lose its novelty and become part of the prior art. In such cases, even if design registration is not possible, the owner may still have certain rights under the concept of unregistered design. Unregistered design rights provide limited protection against direct copying of the design for a period of three years from the date of first publication.

International Considerations:

When seeking design protection internationally, it's important to note that different countries have different approaches to design publication and its impact on registration. Some jurisdictions provide a grace period, similar to India, while others may have stricter requirements. Therefore, if international protection is desired, it is advisable to consult with intellectual property experts and consider the potential implications of design publication in each target country.


Publication of a design before filing an application under the Indian Design Act can significantly impact its novelty and eligibility for protection. Design owners should exercise caution to avoid unintentional publications that may compromise their rights. It is advisable to file design applications promptly, utilize the grace period when applicable, and seek professional advice to navigate the complexities of design protection in both domestic and international contexts.