Legislative uncertainty about the requirements of a common design

At a glance

Policy ID: 92

Status: Consultation

Priority: Low

Design rights

Issue summary

The concept of a common design is difficult to understand, interpret, and consistently apply due to the vague wording in s 22 (1) ss (b) of the Designs Act. This section identifies that a single design application may be made in respect of one design that is a common design, in relation to more than one product. However, the exact meaning of ‘more than one product’ (including how different the products need to be) is uncertain.


  • Identified for action 8 August 2019
  • Reviewed February 2021
  • 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 includes consideration of partial designs — the protection of only part of a product made in one piece. 

As part of that proposal, we're consulting on whether common designs should be discontinued, due to the problems identified in this issue, and a lack of need for them if partial designs are available. 

Find out more about the consultation and have your say at consultation.ipaustralia.gov.au.

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