In Australia, although both are examples of intellectual property, a patent is distinct from a design. A patent provides protection for the function of an idea, whereas a registered design is protection for the appearance of an idea.

Patent - Design

Patent —Design: Do I need a patent or registered design?

Without intellectual property protection, such as a patent or a registered design, a new invention is just an abstract concept with subjective value. A patent or a registered design provides a legal framework over which to assert control over your idea and prevents competitors from imitating your idea and unfairly profiting from it. Applications are filed with the patent office of the country in which protection is sought, the Australian patent office being IP Australia.

It should be noted that a patent is a much broader form of protection.

Patent — Design: What is a patent?

Patent - Design

A patent protects the way an invention functions. A granted patent provides you with a twenty year monopoly on your invention. In Australia, the basic requirements are that the idea be new, inventive and useful. Inclusive of this, are devices, substances, methods and processes as, generally, patentable subject matter. Conversely, artistic creations, mathematical models, plans or other purely mental or artistic processes are not patentable.

Patent —Design: What is a registered design?

A registered design protects the appearance of a product if the appearance is unique. Third parties can thus be prevented from copying the appearance of the product protected by the registered design. Such aspects of the appearance may include the shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation which result in a distinctive design. However, the function of the product is not protected. Two elements are relevant to registering a design:

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  1. not be correct;
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  3. be outdated.

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