Legislation explained

In Australia, the law regarding registered designs is prescribed by the Designs Act 2003 (the Act).

The Act provides a range of features and benefits that aim to make it easy and simple to register and protect a design. The Act:

  • allows for a streamlined registration process
  • makes enforcement and dispute resolution procedures easier
  • has strict eligibility and infringement tests
  • contains clear definitions.

The Act sets out a two-step threshold test for the eligibility of a design. A design must be both 'new' and 'distinctive' to be registered.

New - meaning it must not be identical to any design previously disclosed anywhere in the world. This includes anything published anywhere in the world or publicly used in Australia.

Distinctive - meaning it must not be substantially similar in overall impression to any design previously disclosed anywhere in the world. This includes anything published anywhere in the world or publicly used in Australia

Under this test, changes to a design do not matter if the two designs still look similar. The focus is on the similarities between the two designs rather than the differences.

The Act also allows multiple designs to be filed with a single application. This means that:

  • for a design application containing one design, the design number will be the reference
  • for design applications containing multiple designs, each design will be allocated a separate design number.

More information

Last updated: 
2 March 2016