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New law passed to give Australian designers greater legal protection

The recently passed amendment to the Designs Act creates positive changes for designers seeking to register and protect their designs.

by The AFC

8 September 2021

“We are incredibly pleased that these new laws which provide greater protections for Australian designers are coming into effect. While there is more we can do, it is a big step forward towards aligning designers’ rights with many of their foreign counterparts.” - Justin Cudmore, Marque Lawyers

On August 30 2021, a bill amending the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) was passed by Parliament which includes the implementation of positive changes for designers seeking to register and protect their designs. This is a momentous day for the Australian Fashion and Textiles Industry who previously had little to no protection from unauthorised copying of their creations.

In conjunction with AFC Partner Marque Lawyers, the AFC have been lobbying for greater legal protections for Australian designers for several years, involving significant consultation with IP Australia and gaining input from many of our members. We welcome these changes, and will continue our work on these issues.

The most significant change brought by the passed bill is the introduction of a 12-month grace period from the date of disclosure of a design within which designers can file an application to register and protect their design. Currently, designers must file an application before any disclosure of their design, meaning that something as simple as a social media post by designers who aren’t aware of this requirement lose any legal protection for the design.

Now, a designer who unintentionally publishes a design on social media can still seek protection for it within 12 months. You can file for protection during the grace period if the original disclosure of the design was by:

- The designer or designers;

- The owner of the design where this is someone other than the designer (e.g. an employer, or a successor in title);

- A party authorised by the designer or design owner - for example, a marketing company releases a publication authorised by the owner; or

- A party who obtained the design from the designer or design owner without their permission - for example if the design is stolen.

Copyright generally does not exist in a garment once it has been produced commercially.

For the full breakdown of the Designs Amendment Bill, click here

Protection under the Designs Act is creatively and commercially important for Australian designers. From emerging to established, having these rules and regulations in place allows designers to create within a safe environment and prevent unauthorised copying of their designs.

If you have any questions about the Designs Amendment Bill, please contact us or reach out to our trusted AFC partner Marque Lawyers at

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