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The Federal Court of Australia recently examined what constitutes “enough of a design” to infringe the intellectual property rights of the owner of a registered design.
Hunter Pacific International Pty Ltd -v- Martec Pty Ltd  FCA 796
Hunter Pacific International Pty Ltd (“Hunter Pacific”) had a design for a ‘razor’ for a ceiling fan hub which they had registered with IP Australia. Martec Pty Ltd (“Martec”) marketed a ‘Martec Razor’ which it imported and sold for use in ceiling fan hubs.
In Hunter Pacific International Pty Ltd -v- Martec Pty Ltd  FCA 796, Hunter Pacific commenced proceedings against Martec in the Federal Court of Australia. Hunter Pacific alleged that Martec’s ‘razor’ design infringed their registered design as it incorporated design elements that were ‘substantially similar in overall impression’ to Hunter Pacific’s registered design for the purposes of section 19 of the Designs Act 2003 (Cth).
Consideration was given by the Federal Court to any similarities or differences which may have been present in the ‘razors’. The Court held that the Martec ‘razor’ was substantially similar in overall impression to Hunter Pacific’s registered design, and noted that the differences between the ‘razors’ did not displace an ‘significant and eye-catching similarities’. As a result of the Court’s decision, Hunter Pacific were entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief.
This case shows how important it is to carefully review of your design, and the designs of others operating in the market before you begin manufacturing a new design. It is also important to be aware that making minor changes to an existing registered design will not allow you to escape liability for infringing upon this design. If you have created a design with a unique appearance, you may wish to protect your intellectual property rights in this design by making an application to IP Australia.