Home Articles What is ‘design registration’? It’s all about protecting your good looks.

What is ‘design registration’? It’s all about protecting your good looks.


It’s vital that you take care of your looks.

No, we are not talking about wearing the right sunscreen or drinking two litres of water a day (although that’s important too), we’re talking about the best way to protect the appearance of your new product.

Design registration refers to the overall visual appearance of a product, rather than the way it functions. Remember that when determining the appropriate type of protection for your product.

And remember: none of this information should be construed as legal advice. Always seek out a qualified professional in relation to your own circumstances.

How long will my looks last?

Design registration in Australia lasts for five years, with the option to renew for a further five years. Renewal isn’t automatic; it must be applied for.

The process for obtaining a registration includes fees. Make sure you’re aware of all costs involved before submitting your registration application, as it may prove commercially non-viable.

What do I choose?


Patents protect the functional aspects of a product as opposed to its appearance. If you wanted to protect both the appearance and function of a product, one option is to apply for a patent over the functional aspects and a design over the visual appearance of the product.


Trademarks are usually applied for to protect logos, brands and business names, although it’s possible to apply for a trademark over the shape of a product. A trademark attorney or designs attorney will be able to help you work out which option is the best for protecting your product.


Protects both two and three dimensional subject matter including those that may form the underlying basis of your product — for example sketches or drawings or a model prototype.

The area of law concerning the overlap of copyright and design protection is extremely complex and you should seek professional advice to determine whether to rely on copyright protection or seek design registration for your product.

What are you wearing?

Clothing shapes and styles are typically inadequately protected by copyright. In an industry that necessitates producing what is currently trendy – and consequently similar looking items — design registrations have come to the forefront as the most appropriate form of protection.

Devita Pathi is an intellectual property lawyer and trade mark attorney.  She has over 7 years experience in the legal profession. She is the author of numerous articles including an award winning article on copyright and design laws. Devita has a particular interest in assisting small and start-up businesses to identify, protect and commercialise their intellectual property.