Designs Act 2003

In Australia, the law regarding registered designs is prescribed by the Designs Act 2003.

The Designs Act 2003 provides a range of features and benefits that make it easy and simple to register and protect a design.

Summary of key features:

  • a streamlined registration process
  • enforcement and dispute resolution procedures
  • strict eligibility and infringement tests
  • clear definitions.

Strict eligibility and infringement tests

The Designs Act 2003 sets out a two-step threshold test for validity of designs. A design must be both 'new' and 'distinctive' to be registered.

This test provides that minor or insignificant changes to a design are irrelevant if the overall impression remains one of substantial or significant similarity. The focus is on the similarities between the two designs rather than the differences.

Clear and simple

This infringement test is designed to be clear and simple and for the design rights to be readily enforceable.

The infringement test is consistent with the definition of  a 'distinctive'. If another design is used that is substantially similar in overall impression to a registered design, that use will be an infringement.

Numbering multiple designs

The Designs Act 2003 allows multiple designs to be filed within a single application. This means numbers previously used in reference to a design application will now be used in reference to a design, and be termed 'design number'.

  • For a design application containing one design, the design number will be the reference
  • For design applications containing multiple designs, each design will be allocated a separate design number.


Last Updated: 23/11/2013

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