What to consider before applying for a design right

To give yourself the best chance at securing a design right, consider the following.

1. Make sure it's the right IP for your needs

A design right only protects designs that have a physical form, can be manufactured or handmade, and produced on a commercial scale.

If you want to protect:

 Understand the different types of IP

2. Keep your design a secret 

To have the best chance of protecting your design, you should keep it a secret until you've applied. Even posting a picture on social media can make it difficult for you to claim a design right and enforce it.

If you need to talk to others about your idea, get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to make sure they won't disclose it to others.

Use our NDA contract generator

What if my design has already been shared?

If you've accidently shared your design or didn't realise you needed to keep it secret, you may still be able to file protection under a grace period. 

How the grace period works

3. Search for similar designs

Before applying, it's a good idea to search for existing designs that may be similar to yours.

We recommend searching for similar designs on:

  • The internet, including social media
  • Dedicated intellectual property (IP) search databases in Australia and overseas.

As part of the certification process, we'll also perform extensive searches. If we find your design or a design too similar to yours, we'll let you know in writing.

How to search for existing designs

4. Know how a design right can impact other IP rights

 Here's how registering a design right can impact other IP rights.

A design right may affect your ability to enforce copyright.

Patents and design rights can protect different features of the same product. For example, how a product works may be related to the way it looks. In this case, you may need to file your patent and design at the same time. This will avoid public disclosures that may impact the protection or enforcement of either the patent or the design.

Trade marks
You may use a trade mark to protect the name of a product range, and design rights to protect the visual appearance of each product.

The overlap between design rights and other IP can be complex. If you're concerned about this, we recommend consulting an IP professional experienced in designs.

Get professional assistance

5. Decide how many designs you want to protect

If you have more than one design that you want to protect, it's common to file separate applications for each design. However, it's also possible to apply for more than one design in a single application.

You can only apply for more than one design in a single application if each product can be categorised in the same Locarno class.

If there's more than one design in your application, you'll need to pay for each design included.