IP Australia acknowledges the issues affecting protection and management of IK and its impact on First Nations people and recognises the rich contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures have made to Australia throughout 60,000 years of continuing lore and history as the nation’s first innovators. Following our 2019 consultations regarding the misuse and misappropriation of IK, we have worked together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on options to improve the current IP system. Our current consultations look to listen further to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander views and perspectives on the options proposed.

Have your say on the questions posed in the webinar and more in our IK Consultations 2021.

What you will learn in this webinar

As an Indigenous business owner, do you want to use Indigenous Knowledge (IK) to stand out in the market? Do you know how to protect your IK? Are you looking for commercial opportunities for yourself or your community based on your IK?

This short webinar on Intellectual property rights (IP) can help. Learn the basics about patents, plant breeder’s rights, trade marks and designs, so you can understand how the current IP system may apply to your business.

We also explore how the IP system could help protect IK in the future. This is part of IP Australia's public consultation on ways the IP system can better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to benefit from and protect their Indigenous Knowledge.

The hosts

Alicia Boardman is a Policy Officer working on the IK Project who specialises in trade marks examination and has a passion for helping business.

Sarah Paton is a Wiradjuri woman who specialises in the examination of trade marks and designs which contain Indigenous Knowledge.


  • How can I protect my IK with IP in my business?

IP rights don’t holistically protect IK, but they can help if you are looking to commercialise IK as a trade mark, design, patent or plant breeders right. It's important to understand what your commercial advantage is and consider which mechanisms can help you make the most of those assets. An IP professional can help you develop a strategy for your IP and IK and weigh up the costs and benefits.

  • Are there other ways I can protect my IK by keeping it secret? How can I do that?

A non-disclosure or confidentially agreement can be useful if you want to keep knowledge secret and there are certain people you need to share it with under specific circumstances. This means that the person who signs that agreement cannot legally share your knowledge based upon the agreed terms. Speaking to a lawyer is a good first step if you would like to think about this. Try our contract generator.

  • What about IK that belongs to my community?

If you would like to be proactive about protecting your community's IK, make sure your community has protocols, plans or processes in place if someone comes asking about your knowledge. An established process can help consider these requests and establish benefit sharing agreements before any knowledge is actually shared.

  • Are there business and legal services available that specialise in IK and IP?

You can seek help on filing IP from an IP Attorney. Some law firms in particular specialise in Indigenous Intellectual Property so ensure you do your research. Indigenous Business Australia offers a range of business support and webinars that could set you in the right direction. IP Australia also offers a free Upskill program which can help you understand the registered IP rights.

  • How can I work respectfully with Indigenous Knowledge as a non-Indigenous person?

Indigenous Knowledge is an important asset belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their communities and their organisations or businesses. If you are working with Indigenous Knowledge, consider how you should work in accordance with the expectations of the IK owners themselves. Treating it appropriately ensures you are being respectful and this can be part of building a brand that consumers view positively.

Some Indigenous Knowledge is regarded as secret and sacred and should not be used commercially at all. Some other knowledge could be used commercially, but consent from the Traditional Owners should be sought and protocols attaching to its use should be observed.

Protocols can also provide guidance on how to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to sharing Indigenous Knowledge. The CAEPR Report includes a list of some of the protocols and guides which have been published. This may be a useful starting point if you are looking to find an example relevant to your sector.

Please visit our Indigenous Knowledge webpage if you would like to know more.

Have a question to ask?

Please email your question to ikproject@ipaustralia.gov.au to get directly in touch with the IK project team.

Have a question to ask?

Before submitting a question we encourage you to:

  • Read through the Related Links above
  • Read the Frequently Asked Question above
  • If your question is specific to you or your business, please try our General Enquires phone number
  • Ask Alex, our virtual assistant

Please note: This form is for general questions relating to this webinar only. Please use our Contact Us form for other questions.

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