Last updated: 
21 July 2016

As a designer, you are in the business of creating intellectual property (IP). Your IP is a valuable business asset and knowing how to protect it can be central to your business success.

The design industry is broad and covers many categories.

You generate IP when you create something new or original and you can protect your ideas or designs by obtaining an IP right. Australia's IP laws provide a legal framework to protect your creative ideas and designs.

Legally enforceable IP rights encourage technological innovation and artistic expression for many industries including the design industry. IP protection is also one of the key building blocks of Australia's economy because it helps foster creativity and reward innovation.

Designers should be rewarded for their innovation and creativity. IP is a very valuable asset and an IP right allows you to protect your design from being copied or misused.

Not all designers know how to go about protecting their work. Depending on the type of IP you create, your design may be eligible for protection under designs and/or trade marks legislation. To be protected under the designs and trade mark legislation you need to apply for a right to be granted.

IP for fashion designers

As a fashion designer you may need one or more of the following forms of IP protection:

See an overview of these different types of rights.

We suggest you speak with an IP professional about identifying and protecting your IP, but the below table will help get you started and give you an idea.

What you have How you can protect it Length of protection
Sketches Copyright Your life + 70 years
Patterns Copyright Your life + 70 years
Prints Copyright Your life + 70 years
Photographs Copyright Your life + 70 years
Manufactured garments Design Up to 10 years
One-off handmade garments Copyright Your life + 70 years
Handmade jewellery Copyright Your life + 70 years
Your name / label Trade mark 10 years (can renew)
Logo Trade mark 10 years (can renew)
Slogan Trade mark 10 years (can renew)
Innovation Patent Up to 20 years