Last updated: 
22 December 2020

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.

Our Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan

IP Australia has developed an Indigenous Knowledge Work Plan 2020-21It 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.

Policy initiatives

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.

Please direct any consultation questions to IKProject@ipaustralia.gov.au. To receive updates on consultations, please sign up to our mailing list.

Publications

Further information about Indigenous Knowledge and IP Australia's work can be found in the following documents.

Acknowledgement

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.