Closing the gap between copyright and designs: An age of enlightenment or state of confusion?

Eugenia Georgiades*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The arena of intellectual property encompasses streams that often interrelate and overlap in protecting different aspects of intellectual property. Australian commentators suggest that 'one of the most troublesome areas in the entire field of intellectual property has been the relationship between copyright protection for artistic works under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and protection for registered designs under the Designs Act 1906 (Cth).' [McKeough, J., Stewart, A., & Griffith, P. (2004). Intellectual property in Australia (3rd ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Butterworths.] [Ricketson, S., Richardson, M., & Davison, M. (2009). Intellectual property: Cases, materials and commentary (4th ed.). Chatswood, NSW: LexisNexis Butterworths.] This overlap has caused much confusion for both creators of artistic works and industrial designs, as there is an uncertainty of whether protection against infringement is afforded under the Copyright Act 1988 (Cth) or whether the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) will apply. In Australia, there is limited precedent that examines the crossover between copyright and designs. Essentially, the cases that have tested this issue remain unclear as to whether a design applied industrially will invoke copyright protection. The cases demonstrate that there is an inconsistency in this area despite the aims of the new provisions of the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) to close the loopholes between copyright and designs. This paper will discuss and evaluate the relationship between copyright protection for artistic works and protection for registered designs with respect to the Designs Act 2003 (Cth).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalInformation and Communications Technology Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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