This Indigenous Business Month, learn more about the protection IP rights can offer your Indigenous business.
Can my Indigenous knowledge be protected with an IP right?
We define Indigenous knowledge as the traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Indigenous knowledge is a broad term that covers a range of knowledge held and continually developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
If you’re using Indigenous knowledge to create something new and unique, IP rights can legally protect aspects of the Indigenous knowledge and contribute to your product's value.
It’s important to note that there isn’t an IP right that holistically protects Indigenous knowledge. You can protect aspects of traditional knowledge and the traditional cultural expressions elements of your idea with the relevant type of IP.
If you want to protect:
- Logo or branding you’ve designed to use for your business — apply for a trade mark
- Invention — apply for a patent
- Visual appearance of your product — apply for a design right
- New variety of plant or tree that you’ve developed — apply for plant breeder’s rights
- Art, non-commercial designs, music, literature, or film — these are automatically protected by copyright in Australia and don’t require an application.
If you’re collaborating with others and working with someone else’s Indigenous knowledge, you may want to consider that they know about it. You should also consider observing all protocols or consent requirements about its use.
Yarnline is our free callback service which is dedicated to helping you understand how IP rights can protect your new ideas, including those based on Indigenous knowledge.
This resource provides Indigenous business owners with the opportunity to speak with IP Australia's specialist team members, who offer tailored guidance and information to address their specific needs.
Have a yarn with an IP specialist today by calling 1800 316 949 or submit your questions online.
Our Indigenous knowledge initiatives
Our website has more information on how the Australian Government is supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in protecting their Indigenous knowledge.
We’ve heard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s feedback about what can be improved in the IP system to help:
- Empower people to protect their Indigenous knowledge
- Educate businesses looking to work with Indigenous knowledge
- Promote the benefits of intellectual property protection, including for Indigenous knowledge.
To Gather, Together: we can all share in the celebration of Indigenous business success and strengthen our connections. ‘By gathering together, we challenge ourselves to broaden our minds, think anew, brainstorm solutions and act differently for better futures.’ (Watego, 2023).
To find out more and keep up to date with events in the month, visit the Indigenous Business Month website.