Last updated: 
12 December 2019

IP Australia is looking at ways the IP system can better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to protect and benefit from their Indigenous Knowledge.

If you’re interested in Indigenous Knowledge, subscribe and stay up to date as our work progresses.

Work Plan 2020-21

IP Australia has developed a work plan to progress the protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the IP system, comprising of initiatives which received support from stakeholders.

IP Australia will develop communication materials to increase awareness and understanding about the use and misappropriation of Indigenous Knowledge. This is in addition to a review of Nanga Mai Arung / Dream Shield, our IP guide for Indigenous businesses.

Potential changes to how IP Australia examines IP applications that involve Indigenous Knowledge will be the subject of further consultation during 2020. These proposals are open on our policy register for feedback: 

We are making inroads on the work plan with the recent release of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research’s economic analysis on the ‘Methods for Estimating the Market Value of Indigenous Knowledge' .

We will continue engaging and consulting with stakeholders and other parts of government during 2020 to progress work on the protection of Indigenous Knowledge.

Please direct any questions concerning this consultation to consultation@ipaustralia.gov.au

Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan

Consultation Report 

Following the conclusion of the Indigenous Knowledge Consultations on 1 February 2019, IP Australia undertook further work based on stakeholder responses. Our consultation report, Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the Intellectual Property System provides a summary record of the feedback we received through our roundtables, written submissions, and the online survey.

Stakeholders provided valuable information, insights and experience to IP Australia through the consultation process. When looking at all the feedback, the following high-level themes emerged:

  • Control – Indigenous people want to be able to control who uses Indigenous Knowledge and how it is used.
  • Protection – Indigenous people are seeking measures that can prevent unauthorised use of their knowledge and impose sanctions against misappropriation.
  • Recognition – Indigenous people want to be recognised as the owners of their Indigenous knowledge.
  • Respect – Indigenous people want their ownership of Indigenous knowledge and the cultural protocols associated with it to be respected.

The Consultation Report includes more information on these themes, as well as summaries of the stakeholder responses to each of the 12 proposals we included in our consultation paper.

IP Australia will develop communications material to increase awareness and understanding about the use and misappropriation of Indigenous Knowledge. This is in addition to a review of Nanga Mai Arung / Dream Shield, our IP guide for Indigenous businesses.

IP Australia is developing a work plan to progress other proposals based on stakeholder views. We will continue engaging and consulting with stakeholders and other parts of government to progress work on this issue.

Please direct any questions concerning this consultation to consultation@ipaustralia.gov.au.

What is Indigenous Knowledge?

We've used 'Indigenous Knowledge' to mean traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples, which includes stories, dance, languages, symbols, crafts, cosmology, medicinal and environmental knowledge.

Here are some examples of Indigenous Knowledge and the IP system:

About the consultations

From September 2018 to 1 February 2019 IP Australia sought comments from stakeholders with an interest in how Indigenous Knowledge is protected, used and managed. Our aim is to identify policy options that relate to the IP responsibilities of IP Australia and help to promote the cultural integrity and economic potential of Indigenous Knowledge. More information can be found in our consultation paper.

This consultation process follows the publication in March 2018 of Indigenous Knowledge: Issues for protection and management, a paper produced by the Indigenous owned legal firm Terri Janke and Company for IP Australia and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

IP Australia begin this process with the Finding the Way consultations in 2016 which indicated a need for targeted consultation and policy development.

Methods for Estimating the Market Value of Indigenous Knowledge

IP Australia commissioned the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the ANU to produce a report that identifies approaches to measuring the economic value of indigenous Knowledge in an Australian context. The report is an independent exploration of the literature and evidence base around approaches to market valuation of aspects of Indigenous Knowledge.

Roundtables

In November 2018, IP Australia held a series of roundtables across Australia as part of this consultation process. Participants were given the opportunity to discuss their views on the issues raised in the consultation paper, including:

  • the key issues associated with the protection and management of Indigenous Knowledge in Australia; and
  • the options that IP Australia has proposed to enhance the promotion and protection of Indigenous Knowledge in Australia.

Submissions for this consultation process closed on 1 February 2019.

Thank you to all who have provided submissions, attended our roundtables and completed our online survey.

    Submissions received

    We received the following non-confidential submissions: