Chapter 4
(11) Registration AU
(21) Appln/Design
(22) Lodged:
(51) Classification:
(54) Article/Product Name:
Product Packaging Design

IP Report 2018


A design right protects the overall appearance of a product and registration allows the holder to exclude others from commercially using the design in Australia for up to 10 years. The protection covers the shape, configuration or pattern that gives a product its unique visual appearance but excludes the feel of the product, what it's made from or how it works.

Only designs that are found to be both new and distinctive are protected in Australia. Examples of Australian registered designs include the Sand Wedge beach chair, Speedo's Fastskin swimsuit, and the shape of the Holden Monaro.

Design right applications: In 2017, IP Australia received 7708 applications for registered designs (Figure 11). This is the highest number of applications on record and a seven per cent increase in filings relative to the 2016 level, well above the five year average growth rate of over three per cent.

As in previous years, non-residents dominate the filings of design applications, comprising 63 per cent of total applications in 2017. This is the highest proportion of non-resident applications over the last 10 years, during which it has ranged from 50 to 62 per cent of total applications. In addition, SMEs and individuals account for about 90 per cent of resident applications.1

Figure 11: Design right applications by domicile, 2008-17

  • Dark green bar Resident
  • Light green bar Non-resident

Worldwide, there was a 10 per cent increase in applications for industrial designs from 2015 to 2016, according to the latest data from WIPO.2 Globally, design applications have been trending upwards over the last 10 years, with an average annual growth rate of eight per cent.

By comparison, Australian filings for industrial designs in overseas jurisdictions have averaged a modest one per cent annual growth over the last decade. Following a three year falling streak, Australian-origin design applications abroad reverted upwards in 2016 to 1321, showing a six per cent increase from the 2015 level.3

Applicant origin: In 2017, both resident and non-resident applications for design rights increased by about four and nine per cent respectively. The increase in resident applications reversed a two per cent decline in 2016. The US remains the largest source of non-resident applications, accounting for 44 per cent of non-resident applications and 27 per cent of all applications.

The UK, Japan, Germany and China together accounted for 17 per cent of all applications, with six per cent originating from the UK, four per cent each from Japan and Germany, and three per cent from China.

In 2017, the most popular Locarno classes4 for design right applications in Australia were: Recording, communication or information retrieval equipment (class 14), comprising around nine per cent of total applications; Packages and containers for the transport or handling of goods (class 9), over eight per cent; and Means of transport or hoisting (class 12), also about eight per cent.

Enforceable design rights: A design right is only enforceable if, after registration, the design is examined and certified by IP Australia. The owner of a certified design has exclusive rights to use, license and commercialise the design for up to 10 years. Applicants do not usually opt for voluntary examination of design rights. They often rely on the shielding effect of a registration until there is a need to enforce their right. In Australia, there has been a significantly lower number of design rights certifications than registrations. In 2017, IP Australia registered 7337 applications and certified 1288 designs, increasing by 10 per cent and 32 per cent respectively from 2016 (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Design right registrations and certifications, 2008-17

  • Dark green bar Registrations
  • Light green bar Certifications

End notes

  1. IP Australia (2017), Australian Intellectual Property Report 2017, Canberra, p. 15.
  2. WIPO IP Statistics Data Center (December 2017 update); Industrial design; Indicator: "Indicator: 1 - Total design applications (direct and via the Hague system)", Report type: "Total count by filing office"; Select office: "World";, 24 January 2018.
  3. WIPO IP Statistics Data Center (December 2017 update); Industrial design; Indicator: "Indicator: 1 - Total design applications (direct and via the Hague system)", Report type: "Count by filing office and applicant's origin"; Select office: "Add all"; Select origin: "Australia";, 24 January 2018.
  4. The Locarno Classification allocates industrial designs according to a list that currently contains 32 classes and 219 subclasses.

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