What to do 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 must 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.

User 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, you need 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

Registering a design right means that for:

  • Patents: Patents and design rights can protect different features of the same product
  • You need to apply for a patent and design right at the same time to keep your product a secret
  • Once you've applied for a design right, it’s no longer a secret. This prevents you from getting a patent for that product later on
  • The same is true if you apply for a patent first and then a design right later
  • Trade marks: You may use a trade mark to protect the name of a product range and several 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.

Different types of IP rights

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.

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