Protect the appearance of your product

What is a registered design?

A registered design (or design registration) provides a legally enforceable right to prevent others from using, selling, importing or producing a product that is the same or substantially similar in appearance to your product. 

A registered design provides protection for the overall appearance of the product, which may include the shape, configuration, pattern and/or ornamentation of the product. The product can be anything that is manufactured or hand made, such as furniture, fashion items (e.g., bags, dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, swimwear, etc.), bottles, appliances, vehicles, or component parts.

In Australia, registered designs provide protection for up to 10 years.

In other jurisdictions, such as the USA, registered designs are referred to as “design patents”.


What are the requirements for a valid design registration?

To qualify for a valid design registration, the design must be new and distinctive when compared to existing designs – that is, it must not be identical or substantially similar in overall impression to an existing design. Existing designs include designs publicly disclosed anywhere in the world and designs publicly used in Australia.

Further Information

Obtaining design protection in Australia and overseas

Registration of a design

To start the design registration process, a design application is filed. The design application will establish a ‘priority date’ for your design, which is the date used for assessing the newness or distinctiveness of your design.

Shortly after filing, the design application will undergo a ‘formalities check’ to ensure that all filing requirements and documents are in order. The design application will then be ‘registered’.

*Please note: a design application does not undergo any substantive examination prior to registration.

Pursuing design protection overseas

Within 6 months of filing the Australian design application, you must decide on whether to pursue design protection overseas. A separate design application will need to be filed in each overseas country or region of interest. Each overseas design application will then typically be examined according to the design laws and regulations of the particular Designs Office in each country or region.

Australian design application process

After filing a design application in Australia, the application will proceed directly through to registration following successful completion of a formalities check. From our experience, if there are no formality issues, the application will proceed to registration within 1-3 months of the filing date.

Whilst there is no substantive examination prior to registration, substantive examination can be optionally requested at any time during the term of the design registration. It is important to note that an Australian design registration cannot be enforced unless and until it has been certified following successful substantive examination.

If substantive examination is requested, it will typically be 3-4 months before the design registration is certified or a first examination report issues. In the latter instance, the deadline for certification will be 6 months from the date of the first examination report.

The maximum term of an Australian design registration is 10 years from the filing date with a single 5th year renewal fee being payable.

The flow chart below outlines the stages in the design application process in Australia.


Australian design filing requirements

The Convention deadline is 6 months from the earliest claimed priority date.

The following documents and particulars are required:

  • Full name and address of the applicant(s);
  • Full name of the designer(s);
  • Representations of the entire product;
  • Product name; and
  • If claiming Convention priority, details of the priority application.

Please note:

  • A Power of Attorney is not required.
  • A certified copy of the priority application will not be required for filing.

If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact us.