What can I do if a competitor has stolen the design to my website?
The Act of your competitor amounts to infringement of the design under Copyright Act and Design Act. The legal remedies available to you under the Acts are detailed herein.
Under the Copyright Act, three kinds of remedies are available against infringement.
Firstly, you have a civil remedy, under which you can file a suit for injunction and claim for damages or account of profit, delivery of infringing copy and damages for conversion.
Secondly, criminal remedy, under which your competitor shall be Imprisoned or imposed of fine or both and the Court may order for seizure of infringing copies.
Thirdly, administrative remedy, under which an application can be made to the Registrar of copyrights to ban the import of infringing copies into India when the infringement is by way of such importation and the delivery of the confiscated infringing copies to the you and seeking the delivery.
Please note that, the Jurisdiction of Courts for a suit or other civil proceedings relating to infringement of copyright shall be filed in the District Court or High Court within the jurisdiction where you reside or carry on business or where the cause of action arose irrespective of the place of residence or place of business of the competitor.
Similarly if your design is registered under the Designs Act, 2000, and your competitor uses the same design for a commercial purpose without a license obtained for such use, then such use amounts to infringement of design.
The remedy available under the Act is either to pay a sum not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees recoverable as a contract debt to you, or you may file a suit for the recovery of damages for any such act, and for an injunction against the repetition thereof, to pay such damages as may be awarded and to be restrained by injunction accordingly.
Thanks for the detailed response. I’ve been told that copyright registration is unnecessary, though.
Well, any original content has copyright immediately. So, you own the copyright to your website design the moment you create it. However, if a rival steals the design, you can’t take the matter to court unless you have registered the copyright.