6.2. Representations: General requirements

Date Published

Representations must:

  • clearly show the visual features
  • show the design as applied to the relevant product
  • in at least one view it should show the product fully assembled and unexploded.
  • show an accurate and complete picture of the design of the product. This includes clearly showing the visual features of the design.

Representations can be drawings, tracings, specimens, photographs or digital images. Typically, we receive photographs, line drawings or computer-aided design (CAD) drawings.

An application can include any number of representations. However, the set of representations must provide enough visual information to fully display the design. Where a product comprises of multiple elements, the representations need to include a view where these elements are physically connected or joined. 

If a statement of newness and distinctiveness (SoND) refers to a particular part of a design, at least one of the representations should display that part of the design

At least one of the views in the representations should display the product fully assembled in an unexploded form, without extraneous matter. 

Standard of accuracy and completeness

Representations must give an accurate and complete picture of the design of a product. However, they are not the design itself. The visual features of a design may be less (or more) obvious in the representations than in the actual product. As long as the drawing/photo clearly shows the visual features of the design – no matter how obvious they are compared with the real-life product – it is an acceptable representation.


All the representations for an application should be in the same format – i.e. all photographs, all line drawings or all CAD. Combining line drawings with other filing formats such as photographs or CAD as part of a single design filing almost always shows inconsistency in representations.

Where there is inconsistency, we will issue a formalities notice. 

Stylistic elements

There are no mandatory rules for using (or interpreting) stylistic elements in the representations – e.g. different drawing techniques. However, there is a strong presumption that when elements are represented in a different manner, it is for a purpose.

A common drafting style is to show some features in solid lines and others in broken (dashed or dotted) lines. Broken lines are frequently used to indicate things such as:

  • generic features of the product (not the key visual features that are the focus of the new and distinctive design). Features required for the product to be the product
  • hidden elements
  • features that establish an environmental context
  • features outside the scope of the design (such as the store dummy in Review 2 v Redberry Enterprises).  

In all instances, the examiner needs to interpret the representations in the context of the design as a whole, and make this assessment in the context of the standard of the familiar person / informed user.

  • Always assume that a different drafting style has been included to make a point
  • If in doubt, use the other parts of the application (e.g. product name or statement of newness and distinctiveness) to help you understand what the difference means.



The representations must be on different pages from any other documents in the application and must meet the following requirements for page layout.


No overlap

If there is more than one representation on a single page, the images cannot overlap.


​​​​​​​Product name: Lamp


Not acceptable because one representation obscures part of the other.


Acceptable because both representations are fully visible.

One design per page for multiple products or a common design

If the application is for multiple products or a common design, the representations of each product must be on a separate page and clearly labelled. There cannot be more than one design per page. The exception being for applications filed on or after 10 March 2022, where a common design is applied for, and a single representation is used to show the identical design applied to more than one product.

​​​​​​​Example (Design 202014214)

Product name: Car; Toy car


This example above shows two designs on a single page and is not acceptable for applications filed because it shows two different products (more than one product) with a common design on the same page. The labelling (identifying the product name for each representation) is also very difficult to see. Each product must be on a separate page and include clear labelling.


Unclear representations

Sometimes it is difficult to be sure from the representations exactly what the design is – either what the product is (e.g. because it is very complex) or what the visual features of the design are (because of unclear drafting). The use of line drawings must consist of clear and well-defined linework.

At the formalities stage

We can refuse to register a design on the basis that the representations are not substantially compliant with schedule 2 for applications made before 10 March 2022; or do not substantially comply with the Designs Formal Requirements Instrument for applications made on or after 10 March 2022. We can also refuse to register on the basis that they are unclear. Lack of clarity can suggest that there are further designs that should be separately applied for.

At the formalities stage we should therefore ensure that representations are clear before registering and that they match the number of designs that have been applied and paid for.

At examination

The examiner needs to interpret the representations as best they can. If the representations are open to be construed in a way that is consistent with relevant prior art, an objection should be raised. The examiner can:

  • interpret the design broadly
  • develop a search strategy based on that broad scope (whilst focusing on finding citations in the most efficient and effective way)
  • make a file note about how they have interpreted the design
  • if the examination results in an adverse report, indicate how they have interpreted the design. This will be part of the reasoning as to why they have raised a ground for revocation.


Criteria for acceptability

We need to consider the following points when determining whether the representations are acceptable. For details on each point, see the linked page.

  • Product: the representations must show the whole of the product named in the application.
  • Consistency: they must be consistent with each other and with the rest of the application.
  • Text: only essential text is acceptable.
  • Common designs: for a common design they must show
    • each product
    • sufficient commonality of the visual features to be regarded as the same design.
  • Format: they must meet specific standards for drawings, photographs and specimens or 3D models.
  • Different views: as long as at least one representation clearly shows the whole design, the set of representations can include partial views such as close-ups.
  • Environmental and References views: the application can include this type of view showing the design in context.

Views of parts mentioned in a statement of newness and distinctiveness

Where a design has a statement of newness and distinctiveness, those parts of the design should appear in at least one of the representations. Note that any amendments to the representations in response to this issue must comply with s 28 of the Act. 

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

Minor correction.

Formal Requirements Instrument changes