Frequently Asked Questions

Registered Designs

What is a registered design?

Registered designs protect the physical appearance (features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation) of a product.  

What is the term of a registered design?

In Australia, registered designs have a duration of up to 10 years.

What is the difference between a registered design and a patent?

Registered designs generally offer narrower protection than patents because they are limited to the physical appearance of the product. However, not all patents offer broad protection either, as the scope of protection available under the patent system is entirely dependent on how innovative (different) the invention is, relative to what has come before. Registered designs tend to be less expensive than patents but they have a shorter duration. Certain inventions, such as processes, cannot be effectively protected by a registered design.

Is it possible to have a patent and a registered design covering a single product?

Yes. Provided the product meets the relevant requirements, it can be covered by both forms of protection. Despite the costs, there are often substantial advantages to this strategy.

What are the requirements for a registered design in Australia?

To qualify for registration a design must be:

  • New insofar as it must not be identical to any design previously disclosed anywhere in the world, nor any design previously used in Australia; and
  • Distinctive insofar as it must not be substantially similar in overall impression to any design previously published anywhere in the world, nor any design previously used in Australia.

At what stage of my product development should I file an application for a registered design?

You need to file your application before there has been any public disclosure or commercialisation (such as sale) of products bearing the design. However, given that registered designs often confer a relatively narrow scope of protection, it is preferable to seek design protection for the market-ready version of a product rather than an early prototype.

Should I carry out a search for similar designs before I file an application for registration?

Whilst there is no requirement to undertake searches prior to filing an application to register a design it is best practice to do so as it provides the earliest indication of registrability and can also identify potential freedom to operate issues. Thus, unless special circumstances apply, we always recommend undertaking searches before filing an application.

How do I perform a design search?

O’Sullivans can brief a specialist search company to carry out a search on your behalf, or we can conduct a search for you. However, you should always undertake your own searches first. There are a number of free online resources for design searching. Below are links to some of the more user-friendly design databases you can use to search for products similar to yours:




You should also undertake your own desktop research in relation to your product to locate competing offerings.

How much does it cost to register a design in Australia?

Typically the cost for O’Sullivans to prepare and file an application to register a design in Australia is about $1250-$1750 (ex GST).  This includes our service charges and the costs for preparing the formal drawings.

How do I protect my design overseas?

Overseas design rights can be obtained by filing directly into a country of interest. Given that an Australian design is published as part of the application and registration process, it is generally necessary to file overseas applications for registered designs within 6 months of the filing date of the Australian application. Overseas design applications filed within this 6 month period can be effectively backdated to the Australian filing date.