Policy ID: 
Issue summary: 

In its 2015 'Review of the Designs System' in Australia, the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) recommended (Recommendation 12) the introduction of a grace period of six months before the filing date, together with a prior user defence. The government accepted the recommendation in May 2016, noting the length of the grace period and requirement for an applicant to declare any disclosures at the time of filing will be determined at a later stage following further stakeholder consultation and development of international norms.

Currently under section 15 of the Designs Act 2003 a design is registrable if it is new and distinctive when compared to the prior art base for the design as it existed before the priority date of the design. The prior art base for a design consists of designs publicly used in Australia and designs published in a document within or outside Australia.

As a result, if a person, through ignorance or inadvertence, publishes their design before seeking legal protection, the design will not be able to be validly registered because the publishing becomes part of the prior use base. This limits the ability of the designer to test the commercial worth of a design for a limited time prior to submitting an application (for example, showing prototypes at trade shows).


Policy development 04-Sept-2017

Consultation 31-Oct-2019 to 20-Dec-2019

Policy development 20-Dec-2019 to 12-May-2020

Legislative drafting 12-May-2020 to 23-Jul-2020

Consultation 23-Jul-2020 to 28-Aug-2020


We are currently consulting on an exposure draft of the Designs Amendment (Advisory Council on Intellectual Property Response) Bill 2020 and the Designs Amendment (Advisory Council on Intellectual Property Response) Regulations 2020 along with the accompanying draft Explanatory Memorandum and draft Explanatory Statement. 
Consultation closes on 28 August 2020.

We conducted a public consultation from 31 October to 20 December 2019 on policy issues being considered for inclusion in a Designs Bill in 2020. 
IP Australia has published the submissions received during consultation along with our response to those submissions.
This issue (with modifications to allow for a 12 month grace period) will be included in a Designs Bill in 2020, subject to government priorities. Our reasoning and further details can be found in our response to the consultation.

IP Australia is investigating further reform measures resulting from exploratory research into the design economy (see Design Reform Project).

IP Australia has previously received a submission on this issue to the Policy Register. The submission and IP Australia’s response are published on the Policy Register submissions page.