Last updated: 
5 December 2019

The registered designs system in Australia protects the overall visual appearance of a physical product to support commercialisation and innovation.

Building on recent reviews of the registered designs system in Australia, IP Australia has begun a more holistic review of the design ecosystem. We want to better understand what drives design innovation and what changes may be needed to realise greater benefits to the Australian economy.

The project so far

Designs Forum

On 2 December 2019, IP Australia hosted a Designs Forum in collaboration with the University of Sydney.  

The full day Forum created an open, engaging and creative discussion that explored beyond the usual bounds of debate. Attendees were invited from an intersection of law, design and industry who represented of a broad range of views and backgrounds.

The aim of the Forum was to generate solutions to a challenge facing the Australian design system today. The outcomes will feed into the designs review project that will directly influence designs reform being considered by the Australian Government.

Qualitative research

As part of our exploratory research, we held over 80 interviews around Australia with people from design-related professions and industries.

Our recently released report, ‘Talking design: views from Australia’s visual design ecosystem’ will take you through what we’ve heard happens as a design goes through the ecosystem – from someone’s motivation to design something new, their interactions with the design rights system and getting their design to market, through to potentially experiencing and trying to combat copying.

Read the 'Talking design: views from Australia's visual design ecosystem' report.

We invite your feedback, comments and reactions to this report. We are especially interested to hear whether views expressed by those we interviewed reflect, or don’t reflect, your experiences.

You can provide feedback by emailing

The role of research in this review

In April 2019 we initiated a 12-month phase of qualitative, desktop and quantitative empirical research.

Through this research, we want to:

  • Better understand the design ecosystem from users’ perspectives and identify areas for improvement.
  • Investigate areas for improvement and model the impacts.

Our qualitative research has included discussions with people from a broad range of professions and industries across the design ecosystem in Australia. The purpose of this research is to:

  • learn about the varied experiences that people face in the design process,
  • understand what motivates businesses to invest in design, and
  • identify the variety of roles people play in the design process and the barriers and challenges they face.

The desktop and quantitative empirical research will look at:

  • The economic impact of the design rights system,
  • The effects of policy variations in designs in other countries and over time,
  • How deep-set trajectories of change (e.g. in the economic and technological environment) are reshaping design innovation, and challenging current intellectual property systems.

Findings from the research phase will be shared with the public and used to facilitate discussions with interested stakeholders in order to test our findings and inform pathways to further Australian design innovation and commercialisation.

Other design initiatives being undertaken by IP Australia

In addition to the review, IP Australia is also undertaking several other design initiatives including:

  • Progressing accepted recommendations from the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property’s Review of the Australian Designs system, as endorsed by the Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s intellectual property arrangements. IP Australia has released papers for public consultation in 2019.
  • Better supporting users of the Design Register. In July 2019 we launched Australian Design Search (ADS) to improve the design search experience and move to a more modern technological platform. This will make it easier for the public to see if there are any Australian designs of interest to them.

Interested in contributing to the Designs Review Project?

For more information about the review or how you can get involved, please contact the project team: