Australian Icons: Authenticity Marks and Identity Politics

Indigenous Law Journal, Vol. 3, pp. 139-179, Fall 2004

42 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2004

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)


This article evaluates the adoption and implementation of an Indigenous certification trademark system in Australia. Section II considers the use of copyright law, moral rights provisions and consumer protection laws to protect Indigenous cultural property in Australia. It suggests that there needs to be additional protection under trademark law - especially to deal with problems concerning communal ownership, material form and duration of protection. Section III evaluates the efficacy of the scheme for marks of authenticity established by the National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association in November 1999. It contends that there were practical problems with the implementation of the scheme and symbolic concerns about the definition of authenticity applied under the regime. Section IV engages in a comparative analysis of other jurisdictions - such as New Zealand, Canada and the United States. It demonstrates that an Indigenous certification mark can be successful, given sufficient support and assistance. The article concludes that there needs to be a sui generis system to protect traditional knowledge at an international level.

Keywords: Traditional knowledge, copyright law, moral rights, Trade Practices Act, trade mark law, authenticity label, Indigenous certification mark, authenticity mark, Indigenous intellectual property

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Australian Icons: Authenticity Marks and Identity Politics. Indigenous Law Journal, Vol. 3, pp. 139-179, Fall 2004, Available at SSRN:

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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