Protection under the Designs Act 2003 is for the overall visual appearance of a product. This means that designers need an effectively completed design before they can make use of the design rights system. A recurring theme that emerged through IP Australia’s recent review of the design economy was that for many designers the linear design registration system is incompatible with the iterative nature of the design process, which involves research and development, testing and refining their design before it is ready for market. This incompatibility frequently creates difficulties for businesses seeking to develop a protection strategy, particularly in the timing of when to apply for design protection. Applying for protection early risks in going to market with a design that is either not optimised and/or has iterated and is out of step with what’s protected, whereas waiting to apply for protection risks disclosure and compromising any protection at all.
Furthermore, many designers find the cost of protection itself a barrier, especially when combined with the issue that what they’re protecting may not be the final product. Some level of cost-effective protection during the iteration process might enable designers to spend more time innovating, leading to better design in the marketplace.
Issue added February-2021