Talking Indigenous Knowledge with FICPI Australia

Learn what we've heard from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about what's needed in intellectual property (IP) law, and what we're doing about it.

On 28 July 2023, our Director General, Michael Schwager, spoke at the Australian Association of the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys’ (FICPI) annual conference. Michael shared what we've heard from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about what's needed in this area of law, and what we're doing about it.

Download the Director General's presentation for insight.

IP Australia FICPI presentation


IP Australia continues to focus on initiatives that reflect our commitment to ensuring the IP system is well-suited to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ systems for managing their knowledge, culture, and land.   

Our Indigenous Knowledge (IK) work aims to shape policy and practice that strengthens the protection of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP), supports access to the current IP system, and creates economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

What is Indigenous Knowledge?

IP Australia uses the term ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ or ‘IK’ to cover a range of knowledge held and continually developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It includes Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE), Traditional Knowledge (TK) and knowledge relating to Genetic Resources (GR).

Learn more about IK  Watch our video series

Here's an update on some of our IK initiatives. 

Delivering our Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan 

The delivery of our IK Work Plan 2022-2023 is well underway. The plan includes six streams of work: 

  • 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. 

In delivering the plan, we're taking steps to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander views remain central.  

Engaging on Stand-Alone Legislation 

A key deliverable in our IK work plan, we're pleased to support the release of the final report of the scoping study on stand-alone legislation for IK in July 2023. 

The study was overseen by the cross-department Indigenous Knowledge Working Group and explored potential elements of stand-alone legislation that would support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to protect and commercialise their IK.  

The Australian Government has committed to introduce stand-alone legislation to protect First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions in the National Cultural Policy - Revive. The scoping study presents possible options but doesn't reflect any final decisions about stand-alone legislation. 

Deeper engagement, collaboration and genuine partnerships between First Nations people and Government are needed to develop how new legislation should work. We'll share more information about the next steps for this work as it becomes available. 

Engaging with Indigenous Emerging Leaders   

As part of our engagement with Indigenous business and citizens, we participate in the Jawun program and were invited by Jawun to present to 26 Indigenous Emerging Leaders who were visiting Canberra. 

On 21 June 2023, our Director General, Michael Schwager, spoke to the group about IP and IK. Many in the group had a deep understanding of the intersection of IP and IK, which made for rich discussion. 

It was a privilege to meet and engage with the group, who came from communities from across Australia. We'll continue to seek out genuine, respectful, and authentic engagement to inform our IK initiatives. 

Providing our free Yarnline callback service  

Our free Yarnline callback service is dedicated to helping people better understand IK and how the existing IP rights system can help protect it. If you have questions about IK, you can book an in-depth conversation with one of our specialist team members. 

Further information 

Interested to learn more about IK or our IK initiatives?

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