1.4. Design rights: How designs are protected in Australia

Date Published

Australia has a 2-step process for the protection of designs:

  1. Registration
  2. Certification.


When an application for registration passes a formalities assessment it will be registered. The formalities assessment involves checking the application detail supplied.

At the registration stage, IP Australia has not done a search to compare the design against other designs and has not made a determination as to whether the design is new and distinctive.

The initial period of registration lasts for 5 years. This can be renewed for another 5 years. If the design is not renewed, or after the second 5 year period, the design right ceases and passes into the public domain.


Certification is an optional process. It is usually the owner of the design who applies for certification but the applicant can be a third party. The Registrar can also instigate an examination or a court can require the Registrar to conduct an examination – both are very rare events.

To be certified, a design must be examined by IP Australia to determine whether:

Certification gives the owner the ability to enforce their design in infringement proceedings. This means that the owner of the certified design has the right to take action to stop other people using their design or a design that is substantially similar in overall impression (s 71).

The owner or a third party can request examination of a design at any time; however, we cannot examine a design until it has been registered.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


For applications filed prior to 10 March 2022, publication is an alternative option to registration. It simply means that the design will be published in the Australian Official Journal of Designs (and also on the Australian Design Search database).

Once a design has been published it cannot be certified.

The owner has no enforceable rights over the design. However, once a design has been published it is no longer considered new or distinctive. That means no-one else can get certification for the same or a substantially similar design. For that reason, publication is mainly used for strategic commercial purposes.​​​​​​​

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

Automatic registration updates.