What is IP?

The 4 main types of IP designers use most often are:

Patents

A patent protects new products, methods or processes.

Patent basics >

What is a patent? >

Design rights

A design right protects how a product looks.

Design basics >

What is a design? >

Trade marks

A trade mark protects brand names and logos.

Trade mark basics >

What is a trade mark? >

Copyright

Copyright protects the original expression of an idea put in material form.

Copyright basics >

Another available IP Right is:

PBR

Plant breeder’s rights protect new plant varieties

What is a PBR? > PBR basics >

Just like you protect your physical assets and property with locks and other security measures, you should take the protection of your creative output seriously. Visit our website to learn more about what types of IP will work best for you.

Top tips for designers

To help you get started, here are 10 tips for protecting your design.

It can be the difference between success and failure. Each type of IP has its own benefits, restrictions, timeframes and costs.
Generally, you cannot protect your 3 dimensional design with both copyright and a design right at the same time. Copyright protects your original sketches and artistic designs before your product is produced on a commercial scale. In most instances, you will lose copyright protection if you manufacture your design or register for a design right. If you plan on manufacturing and commercialising your design at any stage, you should consider applying for a design right before you shared it publicly.
Designers often create work for others, so it’s important to know who owns the IP. If you have been employed by someone to design a product, it is likely that the employer will own the IP. If you have been contracted to design a product, it is likely that you will own the IP. However, each contract is different and can specify otherwise. Special rules may apply for the IP created by university teachers or researchers. This should be outlined in the institution’s IP policy.
An example of this could be a first-to-market strategy. Being first to market may be worth more to you than spending time going through the IP application process. This is a decision to consider carefully, as once you decide on this option and take your design to market, you cannot gain design right or patent protection retrospectively.
It is important to ensure you are using the right IP to protect the right parts of your creations. While copyright protection is automatic, you will need to register other types of IP such as trade marks, design rights, patents and plant breeder’s rights.
Enforcement is up to you. We do not police design rights or launch legal proceedings on your behalf.
This is so others in the marketplace can be aware of what you are protecting. You should consider the implications of this for your design.
If you plan on marketing or manufacturing your product in another country, you should consider IP protection there.
Even posting a picture or video on social media before you apply could jeopardise your ability to claim these rights. If you plan on protecting your design with both and a patent and a design right, you will need to do this at the same time. This is because once you apply for one it will be published online and will no longer be a secret. If you need to talk to others about your design before you apply for protection, you can consider using a non-disclosure agreement to help keep it a secret.
For some designers turning an idea into a commercial reality can be uncertain and daunting. If you need legal, financial, or business advice there are IP professionals who can help you. If you need general information about registered IP visit ipaustralia.gov.au or give us a call on 1300 65 10 10 during business hours.

Top tips for designers

To help you get started, here are 10 tips for protecting your design.

It can be the difference between success and failure. Each type of IP has its own benefits, restrictions, timeframes and costs.
Designers often create work for others, so it’s important to know who owns the IP. If you have been employed by someone to design a product, it is likely that the employer will own the IP. If you have been contracted to design a product, it is likely that you will own the IP. However, each contract is different and can specify otherwise. Special rules may apply for the IP created by university teachers or researchers. This should be outlined in the institution’s IP policy.
It is important to ensure you are using the right IP to protect the right parts of your creations. While copyright protection is automatic, you will need to register other types of IP such as trade marks, design rights, patents and plant breeder’s rights.
This is so others in the marketplace can be aware of what you are protecting. You should consider the implications of this for your design.
Even posting a picture or video on social media before you apply could jeopardise your ability to claim these rights. If you plan on protecting your design with both and a patent and a design right, you will need to do this at the same time. This is because once you apply for one it will be published online and will no longer be a secret. If you need to talk to others about your design before you apply for protection, you can consider using a non-disclosure agreement to help keep it a secret.
Generally, you cannot protect your 3 dimensional design with both copyright and a design right at the same time. Copyright protects your original sketches and artistic designs before your product is produced on a commercial scale. In most instances, you will lose copyright protection if you manufacture your design or register for a design right. If you plan on manufacturing and commercialising your design at any stage, you should consider applying for a design right before you shared it publicly.
An example of this could be a first-to-market strategy. Being first to market may be worth more to you than spending time going through the IP application process. This is a decision to consider carefully, as once you decide on this option and take your design to market, you cannot gain design right or patent protection retrospectively.
Enforcement is up to you. We do not police design rights or launch legal proceedings on your behalf.
If you plan on marketing or manufacturing your product in another country, you should consider IP protection there.
For some designers turning an idea into a commercial reality can be uncertain and daunting. If you need legal, financial, or business advice there are IP professionals who can help you. If you need general information about registered IP visit ipaustralia.gov.au or give us a call on 1300 65 10 10 during business hours.

Videos

Case studies

We have a suite of case studies from a range of design-led businesses that share experiences and tips that they have learnt on their commercialisation journey.

What is IP?

Tutu By You was launched in 2020 by business partners and cousins, Steph Young and Emily Murray. They wanted to create a brand for kids, and something that would bring much joy and happiness to the world. IP was considered early in their business start-up. Hear about Tutu By You and their journey to commercialisation and IP protection.

Watch now >
Case studies for design intensive industries

Huskee uses coffee husks, a waste product in the coffee industry, to create a reusable coffee cup. The result is an aesthetically innovative coffee cup with unique thermal properties. Hear about Huskee and their journey to commercialisation and IP protection.

Watch now >
Gecko Traxx
VisionFlex
Alperstein
DesignByThem
Acustico
Wheelybug
Inventia

Animations

We have a series of animations created for designers to help make the process of choosing the right types of IP easier.

IP for designers

Designers create intellectual property every day. Watch this video to get some tips to ensure you are protecting your ideas from the start.

Watch now >
Main types of IP

There are 7 types of IP in Australia. This video will discuss the main types of IP and how they can be used to protect your innovation.

Watch now >
Design rights in an IP strategy
What a design right is and isn’t
What to consider before applying
2-step process of applying for a Design right
View all videos >