IP Australia is looking at ways the IP system can better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to benefit from and protect their Indigenous Knowledge (IK).
Our IK project includes a work plan, publications, research and consultations on a number of initiatives supporting the protection of IK in the intellectual property system. To receive updates about the project join our mailing list.
IP Australia has developed an Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan 2020-21. It outlines a range of potential initiatives to support protection of IK in the IP system. The initiatives received support from stakeholders during our 2018-19 consultations.
IP Australia will develop new communication materials to increase awareness and understanding about the use and misappropriation of IK.
We also have a short series of Insights, which share key findings about Indigenous Knowledge from Estimating the Market Value of Indigenous Knowledge This is a report we commissioned from the Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic and Policy Research to better understand the economic value of IK.
Our Indigenous Knowledge policy work was initiated following our 2018-19 consultations. Details, including submissions, can be found on the Consultation page.
We are preparing to consult further on 3 initiatives relating to potential changes to how IP Australia examines IP applications that involve Indigenous Knowledge.
Options for IP Australia’s Indigenous Advisory Panel
An executive summary of research by Terri Janke and Company considers what the functions of an Indigenous Advisory Panel could be, based on existing international and domestic models. The panel’s role would assist with the protection and adequate handling of IK by the Australian IP system. IP Australia will use this research to inform consultations on a Panel, in the meantime this proposal is open on our policy register for feedback.
Measures to prevent registration of trade marks and designs using Indigenous Knowledge without consent or if offensive to Indigenous people
We are exploring measures to prevent registration of trade marks and designs using IK that do not have appropriate consent, or may be considered culturally offensive to Indigenous people. Recently published research from Terri Janke and Company provides insights into how existing consent processes could be used in relation to trade mark applications. This research will help inform our policy development. This proposal is currently open on our policy register for feedback.
Disclosure of source requirement for genetic resources and Traditional Knowledge in patent applications
There is no requirement in the patent system for applicants to disclose the use/source of genetic resources or IK. This can make it difficult for the traditional custodians/owners of the IK to benefit from, or prevent, its commercialisation by others. We are exploring new requirements for disclosure for patents and Plant Breeder's Rights. This proposal is currently open on our policy register for feedback.
Further information about Indigenous Knowledge and IP Australia's work can be found in the following documents.
- Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan 2020-21 – IP Australia's Work Plan outlines the work we will be doing in relation to a range of IK initiatives in 2020 and 2021.
- An executive summary of Options for IP Australia’s Indigenous Advisory Panel and Indigenous Protocols and Processes of Consent relevant to Trade Marks - two research papers produced for IP Australia by Terri Janke and Company to inform our policy development on potential changes to the way we administer the trade mark system.
- Estimating the Market Value of Indigenous Knowledge – IP Australia commissioned the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the Australian National University 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. Some key findings from this report are summarised in shorter form in our Insights series:
- Consultation Report 2018-19 – 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 online survey.
- Consultation Paper 2018-19 – 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 was 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.
- Indigenous Knowledge: Issues for Protection and Management – An independent Discussion Paper by Terri Janke and Company. This paper explores the relationship between tradition-based knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and issues of IP, cultural heritage and economic empowerment.
- Nanga Mai Arung/Dream Shield – IP Australia's 2014 guide to IP rights for Indigenous businesses. This publication is currently under review and will be redeveloped.
IP Australia acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which our agency is located and where we conduct our business. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. IP Australia acknowledges Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas and their rich contribution to society.