The Designs Act, 2000 (“the Act”), is a complete code in itself and protection under it is totally statutory in nature. It protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. Section 2(d) of the Act, defines a Design as:
“design” means only the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament or composition of lines or colours applied to any article whether in two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye; but does not include any mode or principle of construction or anything which is in substance a mere mechanical device, and does not include any trade mark as defined in clause (v) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 (43 of 1958) or property mark as defined in section 479 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any artistic work as defined in clause (c) of section 2 of the Copyright Act, 1957 (14 of 1957).
Copyrighting a design can connote a number of things in the fashion industry. A design could mean a specific color, sketches, design elements cut and pieced together, graphic designs on apparels, selected types of embroidery o the apparel or and design imprinted on the fabric. Although it is here that one should know how to segregate which fashion design can be protected under the ambit of Copyright and which cannot. For a matter of fact color, cannot have copyright the only way to regulate a specific unique color of a specific brand is through trademark.
The main reason to copyright a design is to put the design into a tangible form that illustrates the design elements you create. Although a design can be south for protection is only if the design is new and has never been disclosed in the world through any platform and the design should be easily distinguishable from the designs and combinations of designs that already exist as registered designs.
In India the law that govern designs are well established and structured because of the fact that the criteria of protecting them have been prescribed in line with international standards.
Even though the laws in India are well established, the designs are infrequently protected due to the reason that fashion industry changes faster than a rain check, trends keep changing and with these trends industries have to keep up with what the consumers want like the jewelry and shoes industry have been known for changing and setting trends rapidly.