Last updated: 
10 September 2021

We have completed a year of research and consultation exploring Australia’s design economy. Australian designers contribute more than $67 billion to the economy each year, making up 3.5% of GDP on average, with a strong presence in manufacturing and global value chains.

We now have a significant body of evidence to inform potential changes to, and surrounding, the design rights system, and better understand potential impacts on the economy.

We are now progressing policy, legislation and other reforms to deliver a more fit-for-purpose design right to support this innovative ecosystem.

This page summarises key activities that have come out of the review.

Future policy and legislative exploration

Out of our review and previous policy consultations, some questions around the accessibility of the registered design rights system remain open.

Throughout the review, many in the design community expressed that the linear registration process is not compatible with how they design, which involves rounds of iteration over time. We are exploring ways to refine the process to better support designers who work this way and increase confidence in how designs are protected throughout their lifecycle.

We are also continuing to explore whether and how the design rights system could accommodate non-physical or “virtual” products and parts of products, and how best to address issues with the two-step process for securing design right protection, including confusion and uncertainty about its terminology and the process itself.

Changes to Designs Legislation

On 10 September 2021, the Designs Amendment (Advisory Council on Intellectual Property Response) Act 2021 made changes to the designs system, including:

  • introducing a 12-month grace period for the filing of design applications 
  • making improvements to clarify and simplify the designs system
  • providing more flexibility for designers.

These changes protect designers who publish their design before filing for protection, either accidentally or because they did not know that they needed to file for protection first. 

Education and awareness activities

Research confirmed that many in the design ecosystem have no or very limited knowledge of design rights, their purpose, or how to make use of them as part of a broader strategy.

We have been working with peak industry bodies, tertiary institutions and design businesses to create a suite of educational resources. These resources are designed to help individuals and businesses understand how IP can assist them on their business/design journey.

New online application service for designs

Research confirmed that many customers, even those with lots of experience, have found the process of registering design rights difficult and time-consuming.

We are improving the experience for our customers applying for a design right on our new online services platform. These improvements are being delivered as part of the upgrade of our online services platform. We are replacing our existing platform with a more modern, efficient digital experience.

You can use the feedback tool within the platform to help us further optimise the application experience.