New industrial designs legislation to be enacted

New industrial designs legislation to be enacted

On 16 February this year the Federal Government announced that significant changes are to be made to Australia’s industrial designs system essentially in line with the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its 1995 Report on Designs. (This Report is discussed in our October 1995 Newsletter.)

The major changes to be made include:

  • adopting a new test for registrability – to be registrable a design must be new and distinctive;
  • expanding the prior art base to include some foreign publications;
  • adopting a formal examination system to replace the current substantive examination system.;
  • introducing a new infringement test of substantially similar in overall impression; and
  • reducing the maximum term of design registration from 16 to 10 years.

As yet no decision has been made in relation to design protection for spare parts.

The new designs legislation is intended to come into effect by early 2001, but the Government has said it will release an exposure draft Bill for comment before introducing the legislation into Parliament.