The Australian Designs Act 2003 provides a broad definition of the types of products for which design registration is available. Nevertheless, one area of uncertainty has been whether electronic display screen images are suitable subject matter for design registration and certification. Because of this uncertainty, there are numerous registrations on the Australian designs register for electronic screen displays, none of which have (up until recently), undergone substantive examination.
In April 2013, without much fanfare, Australian design registration 345903, entitled “DISPLAY SCREEN FOR AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE” and in the name of APPLE INC., was substantively examined and proceeded to certification.
You may recognise this display as the interface to Apple’s Garageband software program. This design was the first electronic display screen examined and certified by IP Australia. This means that Apple can take enforcement action against alleged infringers of the design. The certification of this design indicates a shift in policy by IP Australia, although we have yet to be formally advised of such a policy shift.
Certification of Australian design registration 345903 appears to have been the catalyst for a raft of new design applications for electronic screen display (by the likes of Samsung, Motorola and Microsoft).
Apple Inc have also filed a number of more recent applications for various icons and displays associated with the iPhone and iPad products. For example, this design registration is for the pattern and ornamentation of their iOS7 Control Center.
While it is now possible to obtain a design registration and certification for a display screens in Australia the validity and enforceability of such a design registration is yet to be tested by the Courts.