Australian Designs reform: Comments sought on exposure draft of new Bill

Last year, IP Australia sought input on proposed changes to the Designs Act 2003. Following a consultation in late 2019, IP Australia have now released an exposure draft of a proposed Bill and supporting regulations for 2020 to:

  • introduce a 12 month grace period with prior use defence. Presently, there is no grace period in Australia for the designs system, unlike the patent system. The prior use defence is proposed to be limited to protect third parties who started preparations to make a design before someone else tried to register it
  • simplify the design registration process by removing the publication option, and making registration automatic six months after filing. Presently “registration” is a separate step, and
  • align with the other IP Rights by giving exclusive licensees legal standing to sue for infringement.

Interested parties have until 28 August 2020 to provide comment on the exposure draft. More detail may found here.

If you have any questions about the review of the designs system, please contact Mark Williams.


Mark’s academic background is in computer science and electrical engineering. He assists clients in obtaining and enforcing their intellectual property rights in the areas of software, electronics and engineering. Prior to joining Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick, Mark worked for a leading automotive manufacturer.