What is a Registered Design?
Registered designs protect the physical appearance (features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation) of a design as applied to a product. In Australia, registered designs can have a duration of up to 10 years.
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. It must also be 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.
Even if a design meets the above requirements, some designs are still not registrable in Australia. These include designs for medals, layouts for integrated circuits, Australian currency and scandalous designs. A scandalous design is one which is shocking or offensive to the public or an individual's sense of propriety or morality.
Given that they 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 a prototype. However, a design application must be filed in Australia before there is any public disclosure, use or sale of products made according to the design.