Designs relate to the visual features of products. Visual features include shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation applied to the surface, but not the feel of a product.
To be validly registered in Australia a design must be new and distinctive.
Generally a design is not new and distinctive if it has been publicly used in Australia or published in a document anywhere in the world.
For designs first published or used on or after 10 September 2021 there is a "grace period" that can be used to exclude any disclosure of the applicant's design before the priority date. The grace period is 12 months ending at the end of the day before the priority date of the relevant application. Note this period counts back from the priority date, not forward from the first disclosure.
For designs first published or used before 10 September 2021 there is no "grace period" in respect of designs in Australia that can be used to exclude any disclosure by the applicant's design before the priority date.
In some circumstances a design is still considered to be new and distinctive even if disclosed as above, but only if there has been no or extremely limited commercial use of the design.