Allow partial product registration for designs

At a glance

Policy ID: 42

Status: Consultation

Priority: High

Design rights ACIP

Issue summary

In its 2015 Review of the Designs System in Australia, the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property recommended (Recommendation 13(b)) that IP Australia consider whether allowing partial product registrations would enhance harmonisation of application requirements. The Government noted the recommendation in May 2016 and committed IP Australia to carry out further consultation.

Currently, registered designs in Australia generally relate to the visual appearance of a whole product. It's possible that allowing partial product protection in Australia would bring the formal requirements of Australian design applications into better alignment with key trading partners, such as the EU, UK and US where such protection is available. It's also possible that allowing partial product protection would facilitate reliance on Australian design applications to provide a priority date under the Paris Convention in other Paris Convention countries.


  • Policy development 4 September 2017
  • Consultation 31 October 2019 to 20 December 2019
  • Policy development 20 December 2019
  • On hold 12 May 2020
  • Status reviewed August 2020
  • Consultation 13 June 2023


IP Australia is consulting on proposed changes to Australia’s designs system for a more modern and accessible design rights system that drives innovation and delivers greater benefits to the Australian economy. 

The consultation covers three topics:  

  • Virtual designs — the protection of virtual, non-physical and active-state state designs (including screen displays, screen icons and graphical user interfaces [GUIs]) 
  • Partial designs — the protection of only part of a product made in one piece
  • Incremental designs — the protection of designs as they move through incremental improvements as the design process progresses. 

Find out more about the consultation and have your say at 

IP Australia previously consulted on this issue from 31 October to 20 December 2019.

Following our consultation, this issue wasn't progressed. However, through our Designs Reform Project we've identified further evidence to support reform on this issue.

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