Registering a Design with IP Australia can be a complicated process to navigate. But with the right information, LegalVision may be able to help. Registered designs protect value in the overall appearance of a product. A ‘design’ essentially means the particular shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation that gives the product a unique appearance. The maximum term of a registered design is 10 years, with a renewal fee payable on the 5th year from filing.

Throughout the process of registering a design, you will need to ask yourself a series of questions to determine whether the design is eligible for registration. There are essentially two stages: the formalities check and the examination.

Formalities Check

Your application must undergo a formalities check to ensure that it is suitable for registration. In relation to formalities, the application form (available here) must identify the product(s) in relation to which the design is to be registered. The date you file your application becomes the priority date. Accordingly, you will have 6 months to register or publish your design from the priority date.

However, it must be noted that there are circumstances when the design application must be rejected. The Registrar must refuse to register certain designs, including designs for integrated circuit layouts, certain Olympic insignia and any other design proscribed by regulation.

If the Registrar is satisfied that the necessary formalities are met, and that your application is not prohibited due to the above reasons, the design(s) will proceed to registration. Registration essentially means that your design will be advertised and registered in the Australian Official Journal of Designs, and can be searched in the Australian Designs Data Searching (ADDS) database. This process usually takes a few weeks.


Any person may request an examination after your design has been registered. The Registrar may also undergo an examination based on its own initiative where it must determine whether there is a ground for revocation, including whether the design is a registrable design.

Is Your Design Registrable?

There are a number of criteria that needs to be satisfied for your design to be registrable. They essentially fall into two categories: those going to the definition of design and those going to newness and distinctiveness. Each category will be detailed in turn.

Is It A Design?

A design is defined as “the overall appearance of the product resulting from one or more of the visual features of the product”. At this stage, you should be asking yourself: What is a product and what is a visual feature? A product is something that is handmade or manufactured. In other words, it excludes naturally occurring substances. A visual feature is the shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation of a product. Therefore, the ‘feel’ of the product is not considered a visual feature. Simply put, if it relates to both a product and visual feature as defined above, it is a design.

Is It New?

Next, you need to consider whether your product is new and distinctive. Your design will be consider ‘new’ if it is not similar to another design from the prior art base. Prior art base is any design that has already been registered or publicly used in Australia or anywhere else. It is strongly recommended that you seek legal advise as to determining whether your design is ‘new’ as this process requires high technical skill and experience.

Is It Distinctive?

Distinctiveness means that your design is not similar in the overall impression of a person who is familiar with the product to which the design relates, to any design that has already been registered or used publicly. For example, if you were looking to register a design for chocolate that has used similar features to that of the purple Cadbury packaging, it cannot be so similar that a consumer would mistakenly think that your product was Cadbury.


If your design satisfies all the categories above, your product will most likely be eligible for registration and protected under Intellectual Property Law. When dealing with registering a design, it is best to seek legal advice from a specialist IP lawyer. This will ensure your product is properly protected by design law, giving you legitimate legal standing if infringements do occur.

If you would like to discuss your situation with one of our specialist IP lawyers, please complete the form or give us a call. We will then assess your needs free of charge and provide a fixed-fee quote if relevant.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Lachlan McKnight
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy