If you plan to do business in India, or if you are already trading here, it is essential to know how to manage and enforce your IP as private property rights.
British businesses looking for access to IP advice and support should contact our India attaché, based in the British High Commission in New Delhi.
The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) is the body responsible for granting all IP rights in India, except plant varieties.
The Indian trade mark system is similar to the UK’s. Trade marks protect symbols, colours or other devices used to identify a business’ products or services. A trade mark is valid for 10 years, then may be renewed indefinitely for further 10-year periods.
To protect a trade mark in India you can:
Apply yourself or through a representative (e.g. a trade mark attorney) directly to CGPDTM. For direct filings with CGPDTM, a local address is needed.
Make an international trade mark application and select India as a designated country. More information on making an international trade mark application can be found in the protecting your trade mark abroad page.
Good to know
India provides protection to unconventional trade marks such as colour, sound, shape and packaging.
Protection is also available for “well-known” marks.
Like in the UK, patents for inventions can be protected for up to 20 years in India. All patent rights in India are subject to the payment of annual renewal fees after they’ve been granted.
To protect your invention with a patent in India you can:
Apply yourself or through a representative (e.g. a patent attorney) directly to CGPDTM.
File an international patent application and select India as a designated country. This can reduce the cost and effort of applying for patents in multiple countries. More information on international patents can be found in the protecting your patents abroad page.
Good to know
India operates a ‘first to file’ principle. If two people apply for a patent on an identical invention, the first one to file the application will be awarded the patent.
India does operate a grace period where you can register a patent within 12 months of any public disclosure.
There are no restrictions regarding nationality or residency however, an address in India must be provided in your application.
You can file a patent yourself in India but it is recommended that you seek advice from an IP professional.
As in the UK, there is no provision for utility model patents in India.
In India, design protection initially lasts for 10 years and can be extended for another 5 years i.e. protection can last for a maximum of 15 years.
To protect the appearance, shape or configuration of your product, you can apply directly to CGPDTM.
Good to know
Protection is granted to visible features of a product which can be reproduced with an industrial process. This includes shapes, patterns, ornaments, composition of lines and colours, which can be 2D, 3D or a combination of both.
Some designs can be eligible for both copyright and design protection, e.g. sketches. However, a design which is already registered under Design Law, cannot also be protected under India’s Copyright Law. Also, if a design has not been registered even though it is clear it could be, copyright protection ceases to exist once it has been manufactured over 50 times by an industrial process.
India’s copyright framework provides all the basic protections required by international law. Some aspects, such as the term of protection, go beyond international law as set out in the Berne Convention and the WTO’s Trade related aspects of intellectual property agreement. Copyright owners do get automatic protection through Indian law.
Good to know
It is recommended that copyrighted work is filed (known as ‘copyright registration’) at the Copyright Office of India for a fee. Copyright registration is voluntary but helps to provide evidence of copyright ownership before a court or relevant enforcement authority.
Enforcing your rights
If your IP rights are infringed, there are 3 main options for enforcing them including civil litigation, criminal prosecution, and customs seizures.
Civil litigation can be used for patent, copyright, design and trade mark infringements, where the remedies can range from damages or account of profits, injunctions, and disposal of infringing goods. IP rights holders can initiate private criminal prosecutions for certain types of IP, which can result in imprisonment and/or fines.
If you suspect goods infringing your trade mark, designs, GIs or copyright are being imported into India, you can notify customs of suspected shipments. If clearance of infringing goods is suspended, you have 10 days to join the proceedings from the date of suspension. This can be extended by another 10 days in appropriate cases. You also have the option to record your IP rights with the customs authority through an online facility. Once your IP rights are recorded with the customs authority, they can keep track of any infringing/counterfeiting goods being imported in India and notify you and the importer.
The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) provides company specific market entry, research, and expansion consultancy services to UK companies entering and growing in the India market.
The British High Commission in India supports UK businesses in India.