Search for a design

Before you apply for design registration we suggest you search for earlier similar designs that have already been registered or used in Australia.

You can look for registered designs using our Australian design search system. You can also look for earlier similar designs published in documenta or on the internet. This will help you determine whether your proposed design is new and distinctive. This will help you to be sure that your design is distinctive. If you have publicly disclosed your design before applying for registration, you may have lost your ability to protect it as it will not have been new at the time of filing your application.

Australian design search

Australian design search includes up-to-date information on all applications and registrations from 1986 and all registrations captured from 1973 to 1985 that were still active in 1985. There is a guide to help you work out how to use the search.

You can also use this search tool to help you determine who owns a design if you want to:

  • obtain a licence to use that design
  • buy the design
  • loan money to the owner of a valuable design and then take a mortgage over it.

International designs databases

The two largest international designs databases are held by the European Patent Organisation and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has links to the sites of many international IP offices.

Has the design been mortgaged

All security interests such as mortgages over a design must be recorded by the secured party on the national Personal Property Securities Register. This register can be searched to find out whether there is a mortgage over a design. It is no longer a legal securities register.

All claimed security interests including mortgages are currently available through Australian design search.

Seeking a search professional

An important part of design searching is properly interpreting the often complex search results and using these databases effectively is a specialised skill that can sometimes be time consuming and costly.

If you feel you need assistance, professional searches, specific assistance and advice are available from intellectual property (IP) professionals and search firms.

More information

Last updated: 
2 March 2016