Seeking harmony in the discordant world of designs

IP Australia is seeking input on proposed changes to the Designs Act 2003 with interested parties having until 20 December 2019 to provide submissions.

The potential changes include:

  • Protection of partial designs and whether IP protection for only part of a product should be allowed.
  • Allowing for the protection of virtual, non-physical and active state designs and whether IP protection for new types of designs (including screen displays, screen icons and graphical user interfaces (GUIs)) should be allowable.  More information as to the current state of play regarding GUI’s may be found here.
  • A review of the approach taken when assessing whether a design is distinctive enough when compared to an earlier design.
  • Introduction of a grace period to avoid public disclosures made by a designer from prejudicing a later filed application for design protection in Australia.  Presently, there is NO grace period in Australia for the designs system (unlike the patent system).
  • Allowing designers to delay publication of applications for design protection, so that their design can be kept secret for longer (for example, until it is ready to be launched in the market).

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.