Australian designs, Victorian designs, British designs, American designs

Australian registered designs

 Australian design registration became a Commonwealth responsibility on 1st July 1907, and was based on the 'Designs Act 1906' (Commonwealth), and the subsequent 'Designs Act 2003' (Commonwealth). Prior to this, design registration was the responsibility of each of the States.

Under the 1906 act, the maximum term of protection was 16 years, but under the 2003 act, the maximum term is 10 years.

From 1907 to 31st March 1982, designs were registered under a system of 14 Classes, (see below)

From 1st April 1982, the Locarno International Classification for Industrial Designs, with 32 Classes, was adopted in Australia, (see below)

From 1st January 1907 to 31st March 1982, design application numbers, and design registration numbers (for accepted designs) were the same. From 1st April 1982, accepted designs were issued with a separate registration number.

The State Library does not hold designs registered after 2002.  The latest edition of the Locarno Classification can be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization website. 

Online Australian Designs Search Database

If the design you require dates from 1973 onwards, you can search the Australian Designs Search  database. If  it is an earlier design and  you do not know the design number or  the class number,  see the Australian design indexes page on this guide. 

Australian Designs Search database

Available on the  IP Australia' website. The  Australian Designs Search database includes all applications and registrations from 1986 onwards and all registrations from 1973 to 1985 that were still active in 1985. if a design dating from 1973 to 1985 was not active in 1985, it is not included on the database, so consult the print indexes on this guide and request the design from the paper collection.  

Use the  'Quick Search' option  to search by product name, owner or design number..You may need to search using varied  product names  to find the product you want. Example: flag.  You can also search by image.

'Advanced Search' gives you more search options, including design number, date and classification code. There is a link to the Designs Classification Codes.

        Example:  Class 16-01 is made up of:

         Class 16              Photographic, cameras cinematographic  and optical apparatus.

         Sub-class  -01     photographic cameras and film cameras. 

Requesting Australian registered designs

The State Library of Victoria holds a print collection of  Australian design registrations  for the years  1907 to 2002.  They are listed on the library catalogue under the titles given below. 

For the years 1907 to 1982, they are listed on the library catalogue under the title Additional representation of design to accompany application for registration.  During 1982 and up to 2002,  the title changed to Australian registered design. The State Library does not hold designs registered after 2002.  

The  collection is arranged in class number and design number order, in broad date ranges. To order specific designs, it is essential to include the class number and the design number. .The year is not essential. Staff will order these from the offsite store for you, either at the information desk or phone 8664 7002.

To order a design from our collection:

From the catalogue record, staff will select the catalogue entry with the design class you require. A drop-down list gives the range of design numbers within that class. Staff will select the appropriate  design number range and order the item for you.  If there is no drop-down list, staff will  type in the design number and class required and request the item from our offsite store.

Designs registered from 2003 onwards

Online copies of designs. Australian designs  from 1986 onwards  are searchable  on the IP Australia  ADDS (Australian Designs Database) 

It  also includes all  registrations from 1973 to 1985 that were still active in 1985.

Other locations of Australian designs: the National Archives of Australia (NAA)

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) in Canberra holds copies of Australian design applications, together with registers and indexes, as noted in the Series listed below. You can request copies of designs from the National Archives of Australia, If you know the relevant NAA series number,  quote this in your request.

Contact details are on the National Archives of Australia website. 

NAA Series A1337 -

Applications for Registration of a Design (1907+) Item records include the following information: Name of applicant; subject details (eg bedsteads); Class number; date of application; application number (control symbol field in NAA record); NAA Series number.

NAA Series A13166 -

Registers of designs (1907+) This series contains certificates of registration of a design. "Certificates were issued after applications had passed a formalities check. A copy of a representation of a design is attached to each certificate. Formats of representations include photographs, diagrams, or fabric samples". (Sourced from NAA) Item records include the design number ranges within each volume, by years.

Individual design applicants

Although  most of  the designs held in the collections of the National Archives of Australia have not been individually indexed or digitised, some of the records do have individual records.

Go to RecordSearch on the National Archives website to find NameSearch. You can search NameSearch  by family name, using the surname of the designer. Select the category Copyright, patents, trademarks, which gives you a date range option.

Not all design applicants may be found this way, but it is worth  searching. You can  then order a copy of the design, if it has not already been digitised.


Microfiche collection of designs held at MF495.

If you are searching for an Australian design registered after 1906, it is recommended that you first  use the print and online resources and indexes listed in this guide.  The microfiche  collection of Australian registered designs  at call number MF495 was provided  to the State Library of Victoria  by the Patent, Trade Marks and Designs Offices (Canberra). It  consists of microfilmed copies of  nineteenth century  colonial and  twentieth century Australian designs registered  up to 30th September 1998. These designs are organised under the Locarno Classification system, which commenced in 1982. 

If you are looking for a Victorian design registered in the nineteenth or twentieth century before 1906, first check  the  Locarno classification index on this guide, as the pre-Locarno designs have been allocated Locarno class numbers. (This does not apply to the designs in print format. Their original class numbers remain).

The microfiche collection is organised by Locarno class and sub-class numbers across all the years in each sequence described below.  Note that the print  indexes listed on this guide give the class number and not the sub-class number.

The microfiche  are held in drawers in two major date  sequences,  Here are the sequences:

 Australia Registered designs 1906 to 6 March 1984.

Despite the 1906 date given in the title, these designs include nineteenth century Victorian design registrations from the 1860s to the early twentieth century up to 1906, when the Australian Designs Act became law.  Other states (or colonies as they were before Federation) are included. The microfiche collection is  arranged  in drawers  by Locarno class number  and sub-class, not by year.

When you view the microfiche records, you will see that they are organised  by class number followed by design  number order (it's not necessary to know the sub-class number) and cover a range of different years.

 Australian Registered Designs Updates 7 March 1984 to 30 September 1995 and 1 October 1995 to 30 September 1998.

The designs in this sequence were registered between the dates given.  Organised  in drawers by Locarno class and sub-class number.

Within the fiche collection, the designs are organised by class number and design number.

You can  complete the  Ask a librarian  online form to request the class number and preferably the sub-class number  and  the year you require.  You can also make this request at an information desk.  You cannot request the microfiche with your Library barcode number: a librarian can do this with a staff login. 

Requesting a design from the MF495 collection

The MF495  catalogue record shows two major sequences:

Class 01-01 to 99.00  Covers 1906 to 6 March 1984.

Updates (for years)  7.3.84 to 30.9.95 and 1.10.95 to 30.9.98 .  Staff will select the appropriate sequence and type in the class numbers you require, and sub-class if you have this information.

These microfiche will be delivered to the Heritage Collections Reading Room, to be consulted there. 

Alternatively, if you know the class number and the subject of the Victorian or state design, it may be possible for a librarian to search the microfiche, if it is not possible to find the design in other sources. Complete the Ask a librarian form in this case.

Designs and copyright

Designs that are 2-dimensional (2D) also have copyright protection under Australian copyright legislation. Examples of 2D designs are patterns or images applied to the surface of articles, such as T-shirts.

Copyright protection for 2D designs is afforded under the 'Copyright Act 1968' (Cth) and the 'Designs (Consequential Amendments) Act 2003' (Cth).

Registering in other countries

IP Australia provides advice on registering Australian designs in other countries, either as a new application in each country (National Application) or as a new application in each country within six months of an Australian application (Convention Application).

Design for lawn mower

Lawn mower design. Class 1 metal. 

Australian design number 21467

Application date: 17 Dec. 1943

Applicant: George Watts, Newcastle, NSW.


Design for metal floor tiles

Design for metal floor tiles by William Stubbs, Elwood, Victoria.

Class 1, metal. Australian design number: 21510.

Date of application: 2 March 1944.