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Our work impinges on copyright in a number of areas.  Most importantly, there are extremely complex overlap provisions between Design Registration and copyright in Australia. As a result great care should be taken, where design registration is required, not to 'Industrially Apply' copyright work before seeking our advice.
Artistic works enjoy copyright and include technical drawings and logos.
Literary works enjoy copyright and these include instruction manuals and software.

Protection under Circuit Layouts Act

The Circuit Layouts Act 1989 provides a copyright style of protection, similar to that provided by Chip Protection Legislation in the United States, for the designers and manufacturers of integrated circuits from countries which provide reciprocal rights to Australian designers. No registration is required to gain protection under the Circuit Layouts Act.
A circuit layout, as defined under the Act, is a plan comprising a two-dimensional representation, fixed in any material form, of the three-dimensional location of the active and passive elements and inter-connections making up an integrated circuit.

Term of Protection

Protection is afforded under the Circuit Layouts Act 1989 for a period of 10 years from the end of the year in which the layout was first made. However, if the layout has been commercially exploited within that first 10 year period then protection will further extend for a period of 10 years from the end of the year in which commercial exploitation of the layout first took place.


It is recommended that when a layout, a copy of the layout, an integrated circuit using the layout, or a package containing the integrated circuit is distributed by way of trade, a label be attached bearing a Statement to the effect that
  1. Eligible layout rights subsist in the layout;
  2. Specifying the country and year in which the layout was first commercially exploited; and
  3. Specifying the maker of the layout.
Such marking will be taken as prima facie evidence that any person dealing with the layout has been notified of the subsistence of Eligible Layout rights in the layout.

Innocent Commercial Exploitation

A person who commercially exploits, or authorises commercial exploitation of, an Eligible Layout in Australia, and who did not know, and could not have reasonably known, that Eligible Layout rights subsisted in the layout will not be held to infringe those rights.

Other Non-Infringing Activities

The following activities are not infringements of Eligible Layout rights.
  • Copying for private use
  • Copying for research or teaching purposes
  • Acts done by or with the authority of the Commonwealth for the defence or security of Australia
  • Copying or making use of the layout for the purpose of evaluating or analysing the layout (reverse engineering)