Improving IP protections for Australian designers

In March 2022, several improvements to the design system will come into effect. Most significantly, a 12-month grace period has been introduced to ensure designers can register their designs after inadvertently disclosing them.
The release the 10th Australian Intellectual Property Report presents a rich account of the latest IP trends in Australia.

Intellectual Property (IP) rights facilitate creativity, innovation and the diffusion of ideas. They enable progress in science and technology, and support commercialisation. IP data provides an important lens across the state of the economy and how it is changing.
Published annually, the IP Report discusses the latest statistics on the use of registered IP rights in Australia and what that means in Australia’s global economic context.
The 2022 report is available online or as a downloadable PDF HERE.

Most relevant to the Furnishing Industry are the changes to Design laws. Design rights protect the visual features of a product, which give it a unique appearance, such as its shape, pattern, configuration or ornamentation. When design concepts are made public, they may be easily copied by imitators, in which case the original producers may not financially benefit from their work as much as they could otherwise. The owner of a certified design has exclusive rights to use, license and/or commercialise the design for up to 10 years. For designs to be eligible for protection, they must be new and distinctive – that is, they must be dissimilar in overall impression to designs that constitute prior art. In many other jurisdictions, such as the United States, Japan and Europe, provides 12-month grace periods, so the change will make it easier to coordinate IP protection across jurisdictions. The changes also streamline and improve the designs registration system and give more flexibility to designers in how they protect their products.

Design applications, registrations and certifications

Design applications in Australia grew 13% in 2021, the steepest year-on-year growth observed over the past decade, reaching a record 8,110 applications. The strong growth reversed a downward trend, applications having fallen 5% in 2019 and a further 4% in 2020 Read More HERE.

The 2021 growth can entirely be attributed to an increase in applications by non-residents. Non-resident applications grew 21% in 2021 (from 4,568 in 2020 to 5,516), while applications by Australian residents were stable, declining by less than 1% (from 2,604 to 2,595). Non-residents account for 68% of total applications, a proportion that has increased 9 percentage points since 2012.

IP Australia is exploring a program of further reforms to ensure the Australian design rights system is fit for purpose and supports the Australian economy now and in the future. We are considering how the design rights system could accommodate non-physical or ‘virtual’ products and parts of products, and how to give more flexibility to designers to adapt their protection as their products change during development.

In addition, in principle agreement has been reached between Australia and the UK on a free trade agreement (FTA). Australia has agreed to make all reasonable efforts to join the Hague Agreement on Industrial Designs as part of that agreement. Accession to the Hague Agreement will provide new benefits for Australian designers by allowing them to protect their original creations overseas more easily and extending the term of protection available for designs in Australia from 10 to 15 years. The agreement allows time to consider legislative and system changes after entry into force of the FTA.

The ongoing reforms build on a 12-month review that involved extensive research into Australia’s design economy, the drivers of design innovation and the role of design rights. 

For I.P Advice contact AFA Partners Perry Advisory HERE

 Courtesy I.P Australia