How Indigenous Knowledge is protected
To better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we're looking at how Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is protected to identify what's working and what can be improved.
Why we started
As part of our IK work, we've consulted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and heard:
- that our IP system has gaps when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' expectations about how IK should be used
- about the importance of consultation and consent when IK is being used.
With this in mind, we're looking at changes and how to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to:
- empower people to protect their IK
- educate businesses looking to work with IK
- promote the benefits of IK protection.
What we've done so far
We've commissioned research and run consultations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from a range of sectors and backgrounds. We invited them to share their views on our IP system and IK and we're exploring what changes could be made.
We sought feedback from Indigenous people to share stories and insights on future directions about IK and IP.
In 2018, we ran a consultation and asked for people's views to help us:
- understand how IK is protected, used and managed
- identify policy options relating to IK that we could progress.
You can review the written submissions on the consultation hub page.
Following the outcomes of our consultations in 2018, we developed the proposals which had support and sought further views on how we could move to implement them.
We created a series of webinars to educate people about IK, how it can help their business, and how to protect it. These webinars contain information about IP rights, as well as insights into how businesses can protect and profit from protecting their IP.
Throughout the project we've released reports based on the outcomes of consultations and interviews, as well as commissioned reports about IK and IP issues.
What we've learnt so far
We need to look at potential changes in the IP system that give effect to four key themes when it comes to IK:
- Control — First Nations people want to be able to control who uses IK and how it's used.
- Protection — First Nations people are seeking measures that can be used to stop unauthorised use of IK and impose sanctions against misappropriation.
- Recognition — First Nations people want to be recognised as the owners of their IK.
- Respect — First Nations people want their ownership of IK and the cultural protocols associated with it to be respected.
We're continuing to develop our IP system to help support the cultural integrity and economic potential of IK knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There's more work to do, but we've made a start.
We've developed our IK Work Plan 2022-23 which sets out the next steps for our work on IK.
We're taking steps to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives remain central to the activities in this work plan.
Our IK plan outlines six streams of work which include:
- an Indigenous Knowledge Panel at IP Australia
- proposals for system enhancements for trade marks and designs
- proposals for disclosure of source for patents and plant breeder's rights
- guidance for customers about IK and IP and seeking consent
- supporting access to the IP system for IK custodians
- scoping study into stand-alone legislation for IK.
Ensuring that we continue to consult and have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' perspectives at the centre of our IK work is important to us. If you'd like to help shape a better IP system for IK, we welcome your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. Keep an eye out for upcoming consultations to have your say.