A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which gives a product a unique appearance, and must be new and distinctive. Source.

Designed a great looking product? The shape of a water bottle, design of a T-shirt or look of an electrical gadget may all be registrable “designs” provided they are “new and distinctive” . Others may wish to copy the design and use it themselves; design registration is one way to try to stop use of the design without permission.

Design registration is a monopoly granted by the government IP Australia to the owner to, for example, use, offer for sale, import, or keep things made according to the design. A design registration owner may take action against others who use the same or a similar design, without authority. Permission may be granted in the form of selling rights or a license to use the design, usually for financial reward.

To register an Industrial Design there are three stages:

1. File Application
2. Registration
3. Examination

1. File Application

Design applications are filed in Australia at IP Australia, with representations of the design, details of the application, the applicant, designer and payment of official fees. A formality check will be made to ensure the basic requirements are met.

2. Registration

Provided all the formalities are dealt with the design application will proceed to registration. The registration will be published to allow an opportunity for third parties to oppose the registration.

3. Search & Examination

Unlike trade marks and complete patents, designs are not searched or examined until after registration and only if the owner wishes to enforce the design registration or at the request of third parties.  A design owner may request examination as a precaution but there is no obligation to do so. For this reason the design system is a relatively quick and cheap way to achieve protection for the look of an industrially  produced article.

Typically an industrial design is registered within 6 months of filing.
A registered industrial design remains on the register for 5 years from the filing date, renewable for a further single 5 year period, on payment of fees.

Registering an Australian design typically costs A$1000-A$1500 from filing through to registration, excluding the cost of preparing images of the design, and any examination.
Design searches may be conduct to see if a design is free to use or register. These searches may be just within Australia or in a selection of countries of interest. Other searches such as due diligence and number or owner searches are also available.
If a registered design is used without authority there may be infringement. The registered owner may take action to try to prevent the infringing activity and possibly obtain damages. If you are aware of infringement or would like to take action to avoid potential infringement contact us so that we may advise you.

The above information is intended as an introduction only and professional advice on your situation should be sought before taking any action.
If you would like a free initial discussion on possible design rights or other information on intellectual property rights please contact Tara Parish by e-mail or call +61 (0) 7 4772 5775.