Disclosure of source requirement for genetic resources and Traditional Knowledge in patent applications

At a glance

Policy ID: 103

Status: Policy development

Priority: High

Patents Plant breeders rights Indigenous knowledge

Issue summary

Innovations that are based on Traditional Knowledge, but which are subject to further research and development, may benefit from patent or Plant breeder's rights (PBR) protection as long as they are new and inventive or new and distinctive. There's no requirement in the patent or PBR system for applicants to disclose that they have used genetic resources or Traditional Knowledge in their inventions. Nor do patent or PBR applicants have to disclose how and where they have obtained these resources or knowledge. This can make it difficult for the traditional custodians of the resources or knowledge to benefit from, or prevent, its commercialisation by others.

Patents legislation could be amended to require that an application for a patent include clear disclosure of the source of genetic resource and Traditional Knowledge. Similar requirements could also be considered for PBR.


The Australian Government has announced the public release of IP Australia’s Consultation Report – the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the Intellectual Property System. This report summarises stakeholders’ feedback received in our consultation on Indigenous Knowledge issues. It follows the publication 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.

See also IDs 104 and 105

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