Designs initiatives

We're continuously looking for ways to improve your experience with the Australian design right system. Here’s what we’ve done so far and what we’re doing next.

As part of our commitment to providing Australians with a world class design rights system, we're progressing a program of reforms to ensure the Australian design rights system is fit for purpose and supports the Australian economy now and in the future.

What we've done

We listened. We learned. We improved the system. Here's how.

Review of Australia's design economy 

We've completed a year of research and consultation exploring Australia’s design economy.

The research has given us a clearer picture of:

  • what drives design innovation
  • the role that design protection, including design rights, plays within the broader design ecosystem. 

Why we started

We had evidence that:

  • we needed to build on research from previous reviews we'd conducted in the design system
  • our design ecosystem wasn't performing as well as in other countries
  • the design community wanted us to reform the system.

We decided to find out how we could:

  • better understand the needs of the design community
  • encourage innovation
  • find opportunities to grow the design economy.

Who we spoke to

We reached out to people from design-related professions and industries around Australia. This included building new relationships with areas of the design, business and academic communities who previously had limited or no involvement with us.

What we did

From 2019 to 2021 we carried out different types of research and consultation.


We interviewed over 80 people from design-related professions and industries.


We ran two surveys with Australian designers and inventors to understand:

  • their methods and motives for protecting designs
  • experiences of design copying
  • which barriers stopped effective intellectual property (IP) enforcement.


We held a series of events which included discussions and presentations of findings.

Design Canberra Festival (November 2019)

Our presentation at the Object Subject: 2019 National Design Writing Conference highlighted what we'd learned from interviews with people in design and design-related businesses.

Designs Forum (December 2019)

The forum included a cross section of stakeholders from law, design and industry. They addressed and provided some solutions to the challenges facing our design system.

IPTA web conference (May 2020)

We presented 'The design challenge: Future proofing Australia’s design economy' session at the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia's (IPTA) annual conference.

Roundtables (August 2020)

We held discussions with key stakeholders from the design and legal communities to share key findings from our research and outline next steps for reform.

IPRIA webinar (November 2020)

We partnered with the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia to present a webinar on 'Accessing design protection: the future of the registered design right in Australia'.

Melbourne Design Week 2020 – Visualising Australia’s Design Economy

We launched a series of reports summarising our year of exploratory research.

You can watch our related presentation Visualising Australia’s Design Economy.

Melbourne Design Week 2021

We held virtual events during Melbourne Design Week 2021 in partnership with the Design Institute of Australia and the Australian Fashion Council.

Topics included:

  • redesigning Designs: The future of design protection in Australia

  • the future of iterative registered design protection

  • uncovering IP: An overview of IP for design intensive industries.

These events covered different aspects of the program of reforms including:

  • reflecting on the research

  • sharing completed short term initiatives

  • involving the community in the longer term initiatives.

What we've learnt

The research clarified what drives design innovation and the role design rights play in the broader design ecosystem.

Our research uncovered insights that will help us improve Australia's design rights ecosystem.

Designs reform project outcomes

This is a high level summary of the key findings from the research and consultations and introduces the next steps for reform.

The research findings are summarised in four reports.

1. Defining design

Sets out the research context by defining design and its contribution to the Australian economy.

2. Talking design

Insights and experiences from interviews with members of the design ecosystem.

3. Valuing designs

An economic economic assessment of whether Australia’s design rights system has provided incentives for Australian businesses to invest in design.

4. Protecting designs

Results from surveying Australian designers and inventors about their methods and motives for protecting designs and experiences with design copying.

Redesigning Designs: The Future of Design Protection in Australia

This article appeared in the Journal of The Intellectual Property Society of Australia and New Zealand in September 2020.

The article outlines:

  • the drivers behind the research
  • key findings
  • next steps.

An easier application process

We've improved our systems to make applying for your IP protection easier.

Log in to online services

A better search tool

We've made it easier for you to find designs using product names, owners or numbers on the Australian Design Search.

Australian Design Search

Provided better information

We want to help designers understand how IP can assist them in their business and design journey. To make it easier for you, we've:

  • refreshed our internal examination manual and website content. 
  • created new case studies on design-led business across Australia, that share their experiences along their commercialisation journey. 
  • collaborated with peak industry bodies, tertiary institutions, and design businesses to create useful educational resources.

View our case studies

Changes to design legislation

On 10 September 2021, the Designs Amendment (Advisory Council on Intellectual Property Response) Act 2021 made changes to the designs system, including:

  • introducing a 12-month grace period for filing design applications 
  • simplifying the designs system
  • giving designers more flexibility.

The changes protect designers who publish their designs before filing for protection, whether accidentally or because they weren't aware they needed to file for protection first. 

What we're doing next

There's more to be done. Here's what we're working on next.

A more modern and accessible Australian design rights system

We're now looking at a second phase of reforms. These explore how the design rights system could accommodate non-physical or virtual products and select parts of products, and also provide flexibility for designers in protecting their designs as they evolve.

Between 13 June and 13 August 2023, we conducted public consultation on the second phase of reforms. 

Enhancing Australian Design Protection

Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about our designs initiatives, get in touch with us at

To keep up-to-date with what we're doing, or to make a submission, check out our policy register.

View the policy register