Last updated: 
2 June 2021

Indigenous Knowledge Project –  Consultations

Our Indigenous Knowledge Consultations 2021 ran from 23 February to 31 May 2021. Join our mailing list to recieve an update when the consultation insights are published. 

Read our consultation paper or watch our webinar to find out more about the 4 topics we consulted on: 

  1. Establish an Indigenous Advisory Panel – provide a formal Indigenous voice to IP Australia.
  2. Enhance the process for trade marks and designs – support IK owners to benefit from, and consent to, the use of their IK.
  3. Declare the source of IK in new innovations – encourage transparency and recognition of IK owners
  4. Explore interest in authenticity labelling – promote Indigenous products.

Please direct any consultation questions to

About the Consultation topics:

Our four consultation topics explore different options drawn from the conversations and research we’ve done to better understand how we can support Indigenous Knowledge. 

  1. Establish an Indigenous Advisory panel – An Indigenous advisory panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could assist IP Australia with handling IK in the IP system. The Consultation paper sets out some of the issues involved. An executive summary of research by Terri Janke and Company also looks at options, based on existing international and domestic models.
  2. Enhance the process for trade marks and designs – We are exploring ways to enhance the trade marks and designs systems. We want to help make sure that people aren’t using IK in ways that could be inappropriate, unfair or offensive. Through our consultations, we explored how people using the IP system could show they have consent to use IK in a trade mark – or tell us if they are using knowledge which belongs to them.
  3. Declare the use of IK in new innovations – There is no requirement in the patent system for applicants to disclose if they have used genetic resources or IK. This can make it difficult for traditional custodians or owners of the IK to see if it is being used or commercialised by others. We are exploring new disclosure requirements for patents and plant breeder's rights. Our consultations asked what a disclosure requirement could achieve, and when it should apply.
  4. Explore interest in authenticity labelling – The way products or services are labelled helps consumers understand their options and make informed choices. We want to understand from Indigenous businesses what sort of labelling could support authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and crafts, as well as products in other sectors such as traditional or bush foods and medicines. Labelling could be one part of solving the issue of inauthentic products.

Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the Intellectual Property System Consultation (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. More information can be found in our consultation paper.

A summary of the feedback we received in this consultation was released in August 2019 in our Consultation Report.

This consultation process followed the publication in March 2018 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.

In November 2018, IP Australia held a series of roundtables across Australia as part of this consultation process. Participants were given the opportunity to discuss their views on the issues raised in the consultation paper, including:

  • the key issues associated with the protection and management of Indigenous Knowledge in Australia; and
  • the options that IP Australia has proposed to enhance the promotion and protection of Indigenous Knowledge in Australia.

Submissions for this consultation process closed on 1 February 2019.

We received the following non-confidential submissions to our 2018-19 consultations:

Finding the Way Consultation (2016)

In 2016 IP Australia did an initial consultation regarding Indigenous Knowledge. We sought views about Indigenous Knowledge and the intellectual property (IP) system. The responses to this consultation highlighted the need for further targeted consultation and policy development.

The closing date for submissions was 31 January 2016.

We received the following submissions to our 2016 consultations: