3.5 What is a registered design?
In IP terms, the design of a product comprises the novel and distinctive features of its shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation, which give a product a unique visual appearance. It does not include how a product works, its material composition or internal structure.
The owner of a registered design has exclusive rights to use, license or sell it.
Registration and certification
Some designs cannot be registered, e.g. medals, currency and scandalous designs. Artwork not applied to a product, and integrated circuits, are protected by copyright and circuit layouts respectively, described elsewhere in this training.
Registrations must be made separately in each desired jurisdiction. Laws and procedures vary significantly among jurisdictions. The registration process can be complex and costly. Certification is subject to examination. If the design is certified, legal rights are enforceable retrospectively to the application date (similar to a grant for a patent). Certified designs are searchable in public databases.
In Australia, registration lasts for five years and can be renewed once only for a further five years.
Unlike some other jurisdictions (e.g. UK), Australia does not have specific rights for unregistered designs, although limited rights may apply under Australian Consumer Law.