Empowering Indigenous Communities with Intellectual Property

Published: June 1, 2020

INTA led a webinar in April providing information about the need to educate and empower indigenous communities on the strategic use of intellectual property. 

The program entitled “Empowering Indigenous Communities to Make Strategic Use of Intellectual Property” was held on April 6. 

Speakers in the webinar included Justice Janet Fuhrer, judge, Federal Court of Canada, as moderator; Wend Wendland, director, Traditional Knowledge Division, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); Lynell Tuffery Huria, chair, INTA Indigenous Rights Committee, partner at AJ Park in New Zealand; and Robert A. MacDonald, partner at Gowling WLG in Canada.

The speakers presented their experiences in working with indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to the protection of their traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). 

Mr. Wendland described how WIPO is helping educate indigenous communities on the benefits of the intellectual property (IP) system, assisting those communities to utilize these tools as “shields” and “swords” to TCEs and prevent misappropriation of TCEs. 

Ms. Huria explored some of the developments in New Zealand and Australia for dealing with IP and the rights of indigenous peoples and their traditional cultural expressions. In New Zealand, the Trade Marks Act 2002 established the MÄ