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Cancellation of Registered Design and Nature of prior publication

This article analyzes the legal implications of the appeal filed under Section 19(2) of the Designs Act, 2000, concerning the cancellation of a registered design for an air cooler. The appeal challenges the order of cancellation passed by the Deputy Controller of Patents and Designs, which was based on alleged prior publication of the design in China. The High Court's decision to set aside the cancellation order and remand the case for fresh adjudication underscores critical legal considerations regarding prior publication and the evidentiary standards required for design cancellation under Indian law.

The appellant, engaged in the business of designing, manufacturing, selling, and exporting industrial air coolers since 2009-2010, registered a design (No. 233559) for an air cooler on 23 December 2010. On 4 May 2021, the respondent sought the cancellation of this registered design under Section 19 of the Designs Act, 2000, claiming that the design had been previously published in China. The Deputy Controller of Patents and Designs, relying primarily on information from the China National Intellectual Property (CNIPA) website, cancelled the registration on 12 April 2023. However, the High Court subsequently set aside this order, questioning the validity of the evidence and the interpretation of what constitutes prior publication.

The High Court's examination revealed several critical flaws in the Deputy Controller's decision. It emphasized that prior publication must be established with clear, tangible evidence that someone skilled in the relevant field can understand and apply. The publication should involve a clear, tangible depiction of the design applied to the same article, either through physical samples or detailed photographs. The six-view images presented as evidence were unverified and lacked sufficient clarity and specificity to meet these standards. Consequently, the court found that the cancellation order was based on a preconceived notion of publication without adequately addressing the legal requirements or verifying the authenticity of the evidence.

Legal Implication:
This case highlights the stringent standards for proving prior publication under the Designs Act, 2000. The ruling underscores the necessity for concrete, verifiable evidence to demonstrate that a design has been published in a manner that is accessible and comprehensible to those skilled in the field. It clarifies that mere registration of a design in another jurisdiction, without clear and tangible proof of its publication in a manner that allows replication or visualization, does not suffice to establish prior publication. The decision reinforces the protection offered to registered designs in India, ensuring that cancellation requires robust and admissible evidence.

The High Court's rationale centered on the definition and evidentiary standards for prior publication. The court underscored that prior publication requires the design to be disclosed in a tangible form that clearly illustrates its application to the article in question. Unverified images from a foreign website do not meet the stringent requirements for prior publication.

Concluding Note:
The High Court's decision to set aside the cancellation of the appellant's design for an air cooler and remand the matter for fresh adjudication is a significant affirmation of the stringent standards required for proving prior publication under the Designs Act, 2000. This case serves as a crucial precedent, emphasizing the importance of verifiable and clear evidence in cancellation proceedings and reinforcing the legal protections afforded to registered designs in India.

Case Title: Paresh Ajitkumar Kapoor vs Controller Of Patents
Order Date: 24.05.2024
Case No. AID/5/2023
Neutral Citation:NA
Name of Court: Calcutta High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Ravi Krishan Kapur. H.J.

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are 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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