In its 2015 'Review of the Designs System' in Australia, the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) recommended that the treatment of virtual or non-physical designs be reconsidered, for example by allowing consideration of the product in which the virtual or non-physical design is applied to in its active state, not just its resting state, when considering validity. The government noted the recommendation in May 2016, and committed IP Australia to carry out further consultation.
Non-physical or virtual designs are designs that impact the appearance of products but which are implemented via software on screens, such as designs relating to screen displays, graphical user interfaces and screen icons. There are a large number of registered designs that relate to graphical user interfaces and other non-physical designs, although very few of these registrations are certified. As a result the status of protection of non-physical or virtual designs in Australia is uncertain.
Policy development 04-Sept-2017
Consultation 31-Oct-2019 to 20-Dec-2019
Policy development 20-Dec-2019
On hold 12-May-2020
IP Australia conducted a public consultation from 31 October to 20 December 2019 on policy issues being considered for inclusion in a Designs Bill in 2020. Consultation is now closed.
This issue will not be progressed at this stage. Further details can be found in our response to the consultation.
IP Australia is also undertaking a more holistic review of the designs ecosystem, as part of the Designs Review Project.