Last updated: 
31 October 2019

We are seeking your views on policy issues that would implement accepted recommendations from the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property’s (ACIP) Review of the Designs System. IP Australia is also undertaking a more holistic review of the designs ecosystem, as part of the Designs Review Project.

ACIP’s 2015 Report outlined that the Designs Act 2003 currently provides limited flexibility, clarity and limited scope of protection for designs. This may be creating unnecessary barriers for designers when they are innovating and commercialising their designs.

IP Australia invites interested parties to provide feedback to the questions and proposed options aimed at addressing these issues. You can watch a quick video overview of the issues we are considering. IP Australia is seeking feedback on three key topics:

  1. Examining the scope of design protection
  2. Early flexibility for designers
  3. Simplifying and clarifying the designs system

1. Examining the scope of design protection

The topic covers

  • The protection of partial designs and considers whether IP protection for only part of a product should be allowed.
  • The protection of virtual, non-physical and active state designs and considers whether IP protection of new types of designs (including screen displays, screen icons and graphical user interfaces (GUIs)) should be allowed.
  • The approach taken in section 19 of the Designs Act, when assessing whether a design is distinctive enough when compared to another design.

Read more about the options

2. Early flexibility for designers

The topic covers

  • Introducing a safety net (grace period) to avoid public disclosures made by a designer from prejudicing a later filed application for design protection in Australia.
  • Allowing designers to delay publication of applications for design protection, so that their design can be kept secret for longer (for example, until it is ready to be launched in the market).
  • Removing the rarely used option for designers to only publish a design application (and not register it).

Read more about the options

3. Simplifying and clarifying the designs system

The topic covers

  • Several technical proposals seeking to simplify the designs system for users and clarify parts of the system that may be confusing, including possible changes to the terminology used in the Designs Act.

Read more about the options

How do I give feedback?

There are three ways of giving feedback before consultation closes on 20 December 2019:

Written Submissions

Online Survey

Speak to someone

Prefer to make a written submission to the questions and proposed options in any of the above papers?

You can email: (if you wish for your submission to remain confidential, please clearly indicate this in the submission).

For accessibility reasons, please submit your written submissions in Word, RTF, or PDF format.

Prefer to respond via the web directly?

You can complete our online survey, which will take approximately 10-15 minutes.

There is an open comment box at the end, for things not covered that you want to share

Prefer to speak to someone?

You can provide feedback or discuss the proposed reforms further by contacting:

Brett Massey Phone: +61 (02) 6285 0721


Guidelines to providing good evidence to support policymaking are available on our Policy register page and on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s website.

What happens next?

We will consider and review your submission and publish a final response soon after consultation closes.

If you prefer that your submission, or any part of your submission, is not published on our website, please let us know in writing at, clearly identifying the whole or particular parts of your submission you consider to be confidential.

You can subscribe to our What’s New mailing list to stay up to date as our work progresses.

More information

IP glossary

IP for designers

Designs initiatives

Providing input to the IP Australia policy register

WIPO guidelines to using evidence from research to support policymaking