Design application process

IP Australia staff member walking along a corridor

The process for applying for registration or publication of your design involves a number of steps. You need to make sure you understand and complete each step so that your application can be processed quickly and easily.

You have six months from the priority date of the application in which to register or publish some or all of the designs in an application.

Before you apply for design registration we strongly recommend that you search for earlier similar designs that have already been registered or used in Australia. You should also look for earlier similar designs published in a document (magazine, catalogue, brochure etc.) or on the internet. This will help you to be sure that your design is distinctive. If you have publicly disclosed your design before applying for registration, you may have lost your ability to protect it as it will not have been new at the time of filing your application.

Who can apply (eligibility requirements)?

Any legal person can file a design application. The application must specify the person(s) entitled to be the owner(s) of the design registration.

The person(s) entitled to be the owner of the design can be:

  • the designer of the design (the person who conceived the design)
  • the employer of the author, if the author made the design in the course of their employment
  • the person who contracted the author to make the design
  • the person to whom the author has assigned the design in writing.

Where two or more people own interests in a design, they must apply jointly.

The owner may be an individual, a company, an association or a partnership.

If you are applying as a company, association or partnership, do not apply using a trading name.

Applying for a design 

Once you have confirmed that your design is new and distinctive, you need to apply for your design with us.

The design needs to be represented clearly through either a drawing or photograph. There are fees associated with filing a design application.

After you lodge your application

Shortly after you have lodged your application, we will check that your application has met minimum filing requirements and determine the fees that are payable if you did not pay fees at the time of applying. We will then send you a notice advising you of the design number(s) and the filing date of your application and the fees payable (if required).

You will also receive a copy of the information about your application. You should check this information is correct and inform us of any errors or discrepancies.

Formalities check

If you request registration, your design application will be subject to a formalities check to make sure the necessary information and representations are present. This process verifies that the application is in order for registration but does not check whether your design is new and distinctive (and therefore enforceable).

If the design application passes the formalities check, the design will be registered and advertised in the Australian Official Journal of Designs, and made available for searching in the Australian Designs Data Searching (ADDS) database.  This will occur within a matter of weeks.

However, the rights you obtain through registration may be tested during examination. Therefore, applications need to be carefully prepared, taking into account similar designs already in the market.

Request for registration

If you haven't requested registration when submitting the application, you must apply in writing to request registration or publication of your design within six months of the filing date of your application (or the filing date of an earlier application for the design in another country).

Your application will lapse if we haven't received a request to register or publish your design from you within this time limit. Keep a note of that date to safeguard your design.

Request for publication

An alternative to registration is publication. Publishing a design does not give you any rights in respect of the design but may be used for strategic purposes.
Publication can be considered as a defensive strategy in situations where you cannot register your design. For example, if you have already disclosed your design (e.g. exhibited, sold copies, posted your design on a website), you may not be able to protect it as it may not be considered to be new and distinctive.

Publication is used to prevent others from obtaining certification for the same design, as the design is no longer considered new.
If publication is requested, the application will be checked and the design will be published in the Australian Official Journal of Designs and on ADDS.

Excluded designs

If you are filing an application for a design that was excluded from a previous design application, you may be able to claim priority from the earlier application. If you wish to do so, you must indicate the design number that was given to that design in the previous application

You must request registration or publication for an excluded design at the time of application. Otherwise the application will immediately lapse.
An application for an excluded design must be made before any of the designs in the initial publication are registered or published.


Last Updated: 18/12/2015

Meet Michael
Masters in Chemistry

Patent Examiner since 2010
Learn more about working with us

Latest news

Stay up to date with the latest intellectual property news in Australia

Read more

Designs publications

We have a range of guides and booklets to help you apply for a design

Read more

Designs Case Studies

Includes a range of design case studies, including how to protect and enforce your design

Read more

Search designs

Learn how to search our designs online database

Read more


eServices is a secure, reliable and convenient way to access a range of IP Australia's transactions and services. With eServices, you can apply for an IP right or make a payment to renew your IP right.

Read more