The 1988 Copyright Act substantially altered how engineering products are protected by copyright and/or design right.

Not only does copyright protect original literature, art and music from copyists, it also protects engineering drawings. This protection extends to products made to the drawings, provided the drawings were made prior to 1st August 1989.

Under the 1956 Copyright Act, the Courts have decided that engineering drawings are within the protection provided by the Act despite their lack of artistic quality in the aesthetic sense. The Act also provided that a two-dimensional drawing can be infringed by its reproduction in three dimensions. Thus, a product copied from another, itself made to an engineering drawing, can be an infringement of the copyright in the drawing.

This protection under the 1956 Copyright Act was entirely automatic and required no registration. For products designed prior to 1st August 1989, the 1988 Act continues the 1956 Act law until 1st August 1999.