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IP Australia launches new image searchable design database

IP Australia has launched the ‘Australian Design Search’ – a first-of-its-kind tool allowing registered design products to be searched by image.

IP Australia launches new image searchable design database

Designs are an important part of the Australian economy, contributing over $40 billion per annum. Understanding the value that design brings, IP Australia has announced a new tool. Called Australian Design Search, the new tool is purportedly one of the first of its kind in the world and allows users to search for protected designs by image. With a simple and easy to use interface, users can navigate and search through a database of protected designs using numbers, keywords and images. 

“The new single search bar will help IP attorneys, designers and small to medium businesses search for Australian designs much more effectively and efficiently,” says Michael Schwager, IP Australia’s Director General on the purpose and potential for the new tool.

“IP Australia is focused on using and delivering world-leading technology to help all Australians view and if they choose, apply for intellectual property protection. This builds on Australian Trade Mark Search, which we launched in 2017,” says Schwager. Australian Design Search and Australian Trade Mark Search are both part of a program to modernise and transform IP service delivery for the benefit of staff and customers.

The database houses registered designs that protect the appearance of a product, including its shape, pattern or packaging. Utilising machine learning technology, IP Australia reports that this platform will help searchers find and interact with designs currently filed in Australia, which up until now only allowed for keywords or codes. 

IP Australia anticipates this tool will help Australians better understand designs, and lead to better quality design applications that are more likely to succeed.

For furniture and lighting designers, there are some things to note. “Design registration protects designs that have an industrial or commercial use. A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation, which give a product its unique appearance.

“There are instances where copyright overlaps with design. In a nut-shell, if you are designing a functional product, like a cup, chair or handbag, your copyright protection ceases when the product is commercialised or you make multiple copies. From this point, if you have not applied for a registered design, you are unfortunately open to copycats and any opportunity to take legal action will be limited,” says IP Australia.

Explore the Australian Design Search tool here.

What are your thoughts? We would love your input and opinion on whether this new database will aid in protecting or helping designers in Australia? Email editorialteam@indesign.com.au.

Editors note – an earlier version of this article referenced design copyright, which comes under different parameters than registered designs, this article was updated accordingly.

Want more insights into where intellectual property is at in Australia? Read more here.

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