IP Australia graphic by Jackie Winter Group - James _ Hancock

Despite all atm, it’s still business as usual with our ongoing consultation to the IP Australia review of design systems!

IP Australia, the government body responsible for administrating patents, trademarks, and design registrations, began research into Australia’s design ecosystem in April 2019.

The 12-month research unpacked what drives design innovation and how design rights (registrations, patents, trade marks) benefit the Australian economy.

“IP Australia acknowledged that due to the inadequate and limited protection via design registrations, combined with the excessive cost of defending infringements, the furnishing sector has little faith in the current system”

The results from this research phase are available as four separate reports. Read each report here, and the 4-page summary report here.

IP Australia acknowledged that due to the inadequate and limited protection via design registrations, combined with the excessive cost of defending infringements, the furnishing sector has little faith in the current system. This is reflected in very low uptake of design registrations as a form of IP protection.


The initial scope of works sought to define the contribution of the design economy. read DEFINING DESIGN here.

This report was released in December 2019.

Read our earlier post on our consultation to the IP Australia Stakeholder forum in December here.

IP Australia Talking Design


During the next phase, IP Australia met with members of creative industries to identify how the design economy functioned. During this process, they acknowledged flaws in the current design registration system as one that doesn’t serve the current market. Put simply, it is too expensive, too complicated and the registration period isn’t long enough.

During this phase, the ADA coordinated two roundtables.

Stakeholders spanning distributors, designers, retailers, and manufacturers gave feedback to IP Australia. Separately, the research team met with individuals and businesses from our extended network.

“Despite our collective good efforts, it was extremely disappointing to see that only ten (10) representatives from the furniture sector had contributed to the second report”

Also in February, we hosted a roundtable with the Director-General of IP Australia and key ADA  stakeholders. Euroluce, CULT, Space Furniture, and SP01 spoke on behalf of the sector. We questioned why imports were not on the agenda, yet the replica industry had been invited to thinktanks and gave input to the review.

Read TALKING DESIGN, released February 2020

“The Authentic Design Alliance has achieved more in the last 6 months than it has in the decade since we founded the association.

It’s exciting to see the progress of the new team and we are committed to supporting their efforts” Richard Munao, CULT

The key to our February roundtable was the inclusion of imported products when valuing the design economy. We emphasised that the success of the imported authentic design sector enabled many brands including STYLECRAFT, SP01, CULT (Nau Design), and Living Edge to leverage into the local manufacturing.

IP Australia TALKING DESIGN - Who they spoke to


The third report set to establish the value of protecting Australian designs and the economic impact of protected designs related to the relationship with local manufacturing.

By this stage, the ADA tabled the negative impact of the replica industry impacted both imported and locally created furnishings. We’re yet to see any indicators that ‘replica’ retailers will be penalised for undercutting authentic design distributors, designers, and makers.

To date, there’s been no specific reference to the negative impact of ‘replica’ furnishings or mention of removing the word ‘replica’ from our sector.


Read the full economic research report – The Impact of Design Rights on Australian Firms


IP Australia VALUING DESIGNS Report (illustration James Hancock, The Jacky Winter Group)


The final report was released just prior to Melbourne Design Week. Unfortunately, the onset of COVID saw MDW cancelled shortly after launching so the intended IP Australia event was held virtually.

“Design-related industries contribute approximately AU$67.5 billion per annum to the Australian economy – or 3.5% of GDP.

Yet less than 0.5% of Australian businesses have held a design right (registration / trade mark / patent) in the last 16 years.”

Swinburne College was commissioned to undertake specific economic research – read PROTECTING DESIGNS here.


With the research phase complete we look to end the year with some good news. Currently, draft legislation is being finalised to be tabled in Parliament by the end of 2020.

Naturally with current disruptions to industry and government timing is impossible to predict. Despite our ‘new normal’ IP Australia advises we should see some ‘short term wins’ but the end of the year.


The new legislation includes the introduction of a ‘Grace Period‘ offering free and immediate protection for creators and commissioning brands for 12-months prior to design registration. This is in line with 100+ Australian trading partners, enabling ongoing product development from market feedback before embarking on the registration process.

Whilst the exact length of the grace period isn’t known, we’re fairly confident a minimum of 12 months will be introduced.

“The current draft legislation includes introduction of a ‘Grace Period‘ – a move that aligns Australia with more than 100 trading partners”


This is an exciting development!

Defining details or a particular part of a design like a table leg, drawer pull or the mesh around an outdoor sofa will be able to be protected separately from the entire product.

We expect this to enable creators and commissioning brands to further leverage their IP across future collections, and minimise the ability for copycats to cash in by knocking off design details.


The next phase of the IP Australia review focusses on solutions.

This process looks at medium to long-term changes to the system – potentially as radical as binning the existing system and starting again.

Please contact us if you have specific questions or are keen to contribute to future public consultation.



AUTHENTIC DESIGN ALLIANCE® Members directly enable our advocacy and education – please support our campaigns for Australian IP Reform for the design sector by joining the ADA®

Find out more HERE (desktop view) or HERE (device view)


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