The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has released a Draft Manual of Design Practice and Procedure, for those design prosecutors among you. The Draft Manual can be downloaded and read here. The Manual promises much, including e-filing of design applications, open access to design file wrappers, and a 3-month turnaround time from filing to registration starting April 2011.
The IPO notification requests interested persons to send comments and suggestions on the Draft to email@example.com latest by 10 March 2011.
(Speaking of Manuals, I think it's time Prashant Reddy wrote one on the Artful RTI, and how to get the government to reveal its best-kept secrets! in re his recent series of posts on the IPRS, PPL, and other things... !,, which I would urge you to read for sheer fun, if nothing else.)
(Image from here, in tribute to my worst-kept secret: an obsession for crime fiction, the classic variety.)
The Draft Manual's agenda is well-stated, and highlights an interesting statistical factoid -- that 9 out of 10 applications are objected to only for reasons of not meeting formal filing procedure. It appears that very few applications are objected to on substantive grounds (e.g., novelty, or originality). The Draft Manual seeks to bring applicants, agents and examiners up to speed with filing procedure, and thereby expects to register a properly filed Design Application within a period of three months from the date of filing, starting April 2011.
E-filing and e-access to Design status
I have not had a chance as yet to read the entire Draft Manual, but the Preface to the Manual written by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, P H Kurian, promises a great deal.
In particular, we are informed that the Designs Wing of the IPO -- which is presently housed in Kolkata, West Bengal -- is being completely automated, and the entire process will be made fully e-enabled shortly. As a result, not only will the public be able to access the status of an application online, but it will also open up access to the Register of Designs (which is at present only available by way of physical inspection).
While applicants are already able to file for patents and trademarks electronically, designs are still physically filed at the various IPOs. There is expected to be some respite here, with the Draft Manual mysteriously indicating that "E-filing facility for filing of Design Applications and all the subsequent documents will be made available shortly".
Annexure of relevant cases
The Annexure to the Draft Manual also contains a table of relevant cases, including both Indian and foreign decisions, organised according to the various points of law/procedure they discuss.
I personally would have preferred relevant judgements to accompany the text where a particular section or clause is discussed, but this appears to be a preferred format of the IPO, since it seems to follow a format similar to that in the Draft Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure. (A revised Draft of that long-pending Manual was made available in November 2010, and can be downloaded and read here).
The Designs page of the IPO can be accessed here, where interested observers will also find a General Information Booklet for Registration of Design; and Ten Steps to Design Applications. The documents that the IPO believes readers to be interested in are amusing, for a lot of them appear to overlap in content - such as these two above, added to which is now a third (the Draft Manual). Hopefully, all of this will also get sorted out soon.