A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 9: Indigenous cultural expression and registered designs
Industrial design is an important and commercially valuable aspect of a product. It is a vital part of what makes a product appealing to a consumer and increases its marketability. The use of Indigenous designs appeals to a market, and thus has a commercial value. The challenge of the law is to ensure that where Indigenous cultural expressions are incorporated into a product this only occurs with prior informed consent, and that all who have contributed to the commercial value have the opportunity to share in it. This chapter looks at how the registered design system may play a role in meeting that challenge. It examines the interface between design protection and Indigenous designs. Some suggestions for improvement will be made which will have the effect of making protection of designs more accessible and building in some safeguards to minimise the exploitation of traditional cultural expression. Most Indigenous designs will come within the concept of traditional cultural expression. Traditional cultural expression is defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization to include music, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, architectural forms, handicrafts and narratives. The notion of design has a variety of meanings.
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