24.2. Assignments and other interests: Recording changes of ownership

Date Published

The Designs Office records changes of ownership of existing design rights on request (see s 114 and reg 9.03). This applies to both:

  • assignments of ownership
  • changes of ownership by devolution (i.e. will or court order).

The request to record a change of ownership must:

Request to amend the Register

Registration is not definitive proof of ownership of a design right: the Register can only record details provided in design applications. Therefore, it is up to design owners to:

  • apply for registration in the first place
  • notify us of a change of ownership
  • notify us if they believe that a registered design belongs to them rather than to the registered owner.

If the requester provides satisfactory evidence, we amend the Register to make them the registered owner.

After assignment

When there is a change of ownership of a design right, either the registered owner (the assignor) or the new owner (the assignee) may submit a request to amend the Register to reflect this change (see s 114(1)).

See Amendments for details of the correct process for this request.

Only a person – i.e. an actual person or an incorporated company – can be the registered owner of a design. Therefore, only a person can be assigned ownership of a design. See Is the applicant a ‘person’? for details.

Claiming to be the real owner

We can also amend the Register if we are satisfied that the wrong person is listed as the registered owner (see s 30). This can happen when someone proves that they were the real owner of the design at the time when it was registered.

If we decline a request like this, the person who claims to be the real owner can seek a court order to amend the Register (see 120).


Satisfactory evidence

A request to record a change of ownership must come with enough evidence to satisfy the Registrar that the assignment or devolution has happened.

The evidence must be in writing and must clearly relate to the particular design – usually by stating the application or registration number.

Satisfactory evidence of assignment is usually in the form of a letter of assignment or a written statement (deed) transferring the design right. There is no fixed wording for the letter or deed but it must:

  • state clearly that the assignor is transferring their right to the assignee
  • be signed by both the assignor and the assignee. Preferably both signatures are on the same document but we can accept 2 identical copies, one signed by the assignor and one by the assignee. The signature dates can be different but a large difference may raise the possibility that the person who signed earlier changed their mind before the second signature.

Other types of satisfactory evidence are:

  • a deed of sale
  • for receivership, a court order or a court registrar’s letter, plus supporting evidence of bankruptcy and liquidation
  • a court order providing authority for the transfer of ownership
  • for a will, an authenticated copy of the grant of probate or letters of administration.

If an assignment is part of a larger commercial agreement and the person requesting the change of ownership provides a copy of that agreement as proof, they can redact confidential financial data. However, they cannot redact any details relating to the assignment itself.

Copies of documents should come with a statement that they are copies of the original. Sometimes we ask for a certified copy or the original document instead. If the requester provides an original document, we copy it (adding a note that it is a copy) and return the original.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

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