Registered Design Rights

The idea of a registered design is to protect designs which have an industrial or commercial use. Copyright legislation covers designs that are artistic works

  • paintings
  • one-off photographs
  • sculptures

are not eligible for design registration. Design registration only protects the appearance of an article not how it works. A design is the overall appearance of a good. Its visual features external and internal. A design must be “new” and “distinctive” and not already in the public domain.

Any protection sought for how an

  • article
  • item or
  • manufacturing process works

requires a Patent.

Design Registration refers to

  • shape
  • configuration
  • pattern or
  • ornamentation

that is judged by the eye of a finished article or product design. Registration protects the visual appearance of manufactured goods intended for commercial production. A rigid design gives you a legally enforceable right to use your products. It allows you to gain a marketing edge. It also prevents others from using the design without your agreement.

An interesting point of registered designs is that it is easy to circumvent. For instance, we had a case, where a client made fairy dresses – frilly frocks, wings and halos. She was manufacturing and selling them in a market. A competitor challenged her. The competitor said she had registered designs over the dresses. We trolled the internet and found that the concept of a fairy dress went back to the mid 18 hundreds. The similar designs in the mid-1800s were the same type of designs that used these days. We were able to establish that there was no valid registration of the competitors’ design. The competitor was not able to rely upon her design registration. She could not prevent our client from competing against her.

The Registered Designs Act

The Registered Designs Act of 2003 covers registered designs. The act is Commonwealth legislation. The act deals with registering the

  • three dimensional or
  • two dimensional

appearance of a commercial product, not an artistic work. Registration is essential for there to be protection.

Transfer of original design occurs through contract. Again, licensing is, of course available.

It is also possible, in certain circumstances to, register designs with IP Australia.

Duration of Protection

Registration protects your design for five years from the application filing date. There is an option to renew for a further five years on the payment of the renewal fee.