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What do you need to know about protecting your design?

A registered design is essential for protecting a product you want to sell.

Say you've come up with a great new product idea, and you want to make sure that it's adequately protected. You do some quick research on Australian intellectual property law and see that copyright looks like a fairly straightforward process. You're all set, right?

Not exactly. To make sure that the appearance of your product is protected, you need to apply for a registered design, not a copyright. Let's take a look at the differences between the two, and how you can protect your design in Australia.

Copyright or design right?

Though copyright and design rights may sound similar, there are several important distinctions that you must be aware of. Generally speaking, copyright protects artistic works – the physical manifestation of creative ideas. Fortunately, copyright protection is free and doesn't require any registration or applications.

A registered design is the way to protect your products if you want to sell them.

A registered design, on the other hand, protects the appearance of a product. Unlike copyright, it is not automatically granted, nor is it free. There is also a significant difference in the amount of time that each type of intellectual property protection lasts – while copyright can last for up to 70 years after the creator's death, a registered design is only covered for up to 10 years after the protection was granted – and it must be renewed for that coverage to continue.

A registered design may seem like more hassle than copyright, but it is a worthwhile form of protection – especially if you're looking to sell a product. Copyright does not extend to commercialised goods, so design protection is the best way to prevent imitators from capitalising on your hard work.

Enforcing your design rights

Unfortunately, any inventor must be prepared to deal with an instance of IP infringement. Since the stakes are generally higher when it comes to commercial goods and registered designs, it is important to be sufficiently informed when protecting your rights. As such, seeking professional advice may be an ideal strategy.

This can be particularly beneficial, as the burden of proof is on the owner of a registered design holder when it comes to legal action. If you believe someone has infringed on your design, you must prove a number of facts, including:

  • You own the design rights, and they are still in effect.
  • The defendant copied all or a significant portion of your design.
  • The copied design was done without your approval or a licence.

For more information about IP services in Sydney and advice about protecting your design, contact Alder IP today.