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Recent Changes to the Designs Act 2003

What is the Designs Act 2003?

The Designs Act 2003 (‘the Act’) is a piece of Commonwealth legislation that guides designers in registering and protecting their registered designs. For example, the Act covers aspects such as:

  • The rights of a registered owner of a registered design, including the right to sell a product related to the design
  • Ownership of registered designs
  • What constitutes a design that can be registered
  • Making applications for registration, including amendment or withdrawal of an application
  • Infringement of registered designs

However, this is not an exhaustive list, and a copy of the Act can be accessed here. The Act offers protection for the visual appearance of a product only, with a design being defined as, “the overall appearance of the product resulting from one or more visual features of the product”.

Recent changes to the Designs Act 2003

The Designs Act 2003 was recently amended, with changes in force on 10 March 2022. Some key changes that were made to the Act include:

  • The introduction of a grace period
  • A simplified process for registering your design
  • Updated formal requirements

It is important to note that these changes only affect design applications made on or after 10 March 2022.

The introduction of a grace period

The Amending Act to the Designs Act (the Designs Amendment (Advisory Council on Intellectual Property Response) Act 2021 (Cth)) introduced a 12-month grace period, increasing your access to protection. This grace period protects you if you, or someone authorised by you, has published your design before applying for protection. Where this is the case, you have 12 months after publicising your design to register to have your intellectual property protected. For example, if you have published your design on social media without being aware that you needed to register your design to be protected, you can still apply for protection within 12 months of that publication.

Simplified registration process

The design registration process was also streamlined in these amendments, increasing your access to protection. Applications filed after 10 March 2022 will now automatically proceed to a formalities check 6 months after the priority date of the application. Requests can also be made to register your design earlier than the 6 month date. Before these changes, designers first had to make a request for registration.

Updated formal requirements

Formal requirements include the rules that are associated with the design registration process, including the information that must be included in an application. These requirements have been streamlined within the recent amendments. The Registrar of Designs now has the power to specify these formal requirements by written determination. This means that it will be easier to update future formal requirements, which is necessary to keep up with constantly evolving technology.

These are not the only amendments that were made. More information is available on the IP Australia website which can be accessed here.

How do these changes benefit you?

Put simply, these changes make obtaining protection for your designs more accessible than ever before. For more information about why protecting your intellectual property is so important, you can read our blog post about intellectual property.

While the registration process has been designed to be simpler for designers Australia-wide, legal advice and guidance through the process is still important to ensure your designs are protected by the law. At Hazan Hollander, we keep up to date with legislative changes so that we can provide the best and most up to date advice to our clients. If you would like to get in touch, you can call us in Melbourne on (03) 8538 1676, in Sydney on (02) 9233 4266, or submit an online enquiry below:

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