Industrial Designs

Industrial Designs Law in Australia is a small but increasingly relevant area of law covering the protection of visual aspects of a product.

Unlike Patent Law, which predominantly protects innovations of a functional form, designs law protects the overall appearance of a product, particularly visual features.

If you design goods to me manufactured industrially, speak to an IP Specialist at Clarifis IP today to ensure your designs are protected.

Why should I register a design? Aren’t products protected by Patent or Copyright Law?

Despite misconceptions, Copyright Law only protects industrial design rights holder from copyright infringement in a limited fashion. For a product, which is not applied industrially (ie. less than 50 articles) copyright protection may subsist in the design to the extent that the design is an artistic work. Nonetheless, Designs Law grants a monopoly over the use of the design in Australia and superior protection against infringement.

Patent Law on the other hand addresses innovations in relation to functions. This may well be applicable to the product which you have designed or developed however in some cases, several different aspects of Intellectual Property Protection need to be considered.

How is a design registered in Australia?

Under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) a person (including a company) may make an application to register a design. There are two steps in the registration process:

  1. Registration-Only: Provides inclusion on the ‘prior art base’ of your new design.
  2. Certification: An examination is undertaken by the register to certify that the design meets the requirement for registration and accordingly, infringement actions may be undertaken by the registrant or in some cases, licensee.



What is the prior art base?

The prior art base in relation to designs, similarly to patents, is a database of industrial designs which have been registered or certified. The significance of the prior art base is that any future designs must be considered new or distinctive when compared to existing designs on the prior art base.



What requirements must I meet to register my design?

In order to register your design, you must have developed a design which is new and distinctive when compared with the prior art base.


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