Dream Shield: Communicating IP to indigenous business

Author:Patricia Kelly
Position:Director General, IP Australia
Dream Shield:
to indigenous business
By Patricia Kelly,
Director Gene ral, IP Austral ia
Creating intellectual prope rty (IP) from traditional know ledge involves a number of
complex legal and cultu ral issues. To show how effective management of IP can help
protect the brands, designs and inve ntions of the businesses run by Abor iginal and
Torres Strait Islander people, IP Australia has developed a suite of culturally-relevant
materials known as Nanga Ma i Arung, which roughly translates to “Dream Shi eld”.
Chosen with the help of Alla n Madden, elder of the Gadical People, Dream Shield is
a metaphor for the way in which IP righ ts can act as a shield.
Indigenous Australian s operate in many elds that generate valuabl e IP, from con-
ventional elds such as construction, retail, tourism, graphic design and professional
services to cultura l businesses like eco-tourism, bush foods and cre ative arts. Dream
Shield seeks to encourage i ndigenous entrepreneurs to con sider what makes their
business special, and to make informed decisions about protecting it.
In 2009, IP Australia establish ed an Indigenous Exper t Panel to improve understanding
of how indigenous busines s owners viewed a nd understood the IP system.
We learnt that while existing IP mes sages are generally applicable to the indige nous
business communit y, we could do more to adapt them to this aud ience. Census data
tells us there are between 3,300 a nd 6,000 indigenous busines ses across Australia
with a large proportion of th em located in remote regions.
IP Australia began worki ng with an indigenous design company to create a serie s of
video materials on patents, tradema rks, designs and aspects of traditional kn owledge.
Alison Page, a well-known indige nous spokesperson and des igner, narrated each
case study and becam e the public face of Dream Shield, ena bling us to reach out
and engage with our target a udience.
Understanding how to use the IP system c an help indigenous busine sses protect
unique features of their work an d gain a commercial advantage. IP exists in m ost
indigenous businesses, particularly those operating in creative industries. For many,
it might be their brand, or per haps a unique way of producing something, or a n
innovative jewelry design.
Photo: © IP Australia
“Dream Shie ld has been a reward ing initiat ive
allowi ng us to partner w ith indigenous
communitie s and communicat e the value of
IP to their bus inesses,” expla ins Patricia Kel ly,
Director Gene ral of IP Austra lia (above).

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