22 May 2018: Seminar by Professor Natalie Stoianoff on the topic: « IP and the protection of Indigenous Knowledge: Building a Competent Authority »


In the framework of the CEIPI's Research seminars organized by Stéphanie Carre, Associate Professor at the CEIPI, we will have the pleasure to welcome on May 22nd at 5 pm, Professor Natalie Stoianoff for a seminar on " IP and the protection of Indigenous Knowledge: Building a Competent Authority". The seminar will take place at the 5 rue Schiller. With regards to the limited number of places, the interested person must send an email to Stéphanie Strasser (stephanie.strasser@ceipi.edu).

IP and the protection of Indigenous Knowledge: Building a Competent Authority: The need to protect Indigenous knowledge from misuse is recognised under several international instruments including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The World Intellectual Property Organisation has been labouring for nearly 18 years over how legal protection can be provided for the broader concept of traditional knowledge and culture. Meanwhile, there are two key international instruments that have influenced the adoption of national regimes for the protection of Indigenous or traditional knowledge. These are the Convention on Biological Diversity 1992 and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization 2010 (ABS). 

These instruments acknowledge:

  • the rights of Indigenous communities to their traditional knowledge;
  • that Indigenous  knowledge should only be accessed with the prior, informed consent of Indigenous  communities;
  • that any  access to Indigenous knowledge should be on mutually agreed terms; and
  • with the equitable sharing of benefits from use of Indigenous knowledge.

The Nagoya Protocol requires each member state to designate a Competent Authority (or Competent Authorities) and national focal point on access and benefit sharing in relation to genetic resources and Indigenous or traditional knowledge about those genetic resources. Australia has yet to ratify the Nagoya Protocol and has been slow to develop a national legal regime to protect the unique knowledge and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The Garuwanga Project seeks to address this gap by building on work done by the same research team in 2014 for the New South Wales government to create such a protection regime. This intervention tells the story of the Garuwanga Project and how it seeks to facilitate the evaluation of existing legal governance structures against the criteria of suitability of proposed structures to the domestic legal and regulatory context; expectations of the functions and powers of the Competent Authority; while ensuring a Competent Authority reflects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customary laws, and cultural protocols.

Short CV: Natalie Stoianoff is a Professor and Director of the Intellectual Property Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, since 2008. She is the Chair of the Indigenous Knowledge Forum Committee, Convenor of the China Law Research Group, member of the UTS Commercialisation Advisory Panel and previously Chair of the Faculty Research Network for Intellectual Property, Media and Communications for five years

Natalie’s interdisciplinary research is concerned with new technologies including the legal, ethical and commercial aspects of biotechnology with research interests ranging from the Patenting of Living Organisms, Software and Business Methods, Protecting Traditional/Indigenous Knowledge and Culture, Technology Transfer to Environmental Taxation.

As a joint recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant (2005-08), Natalie investigated Intellectual Property enforcement and awareness building in the People's Republic of China. She has had industry funding to investigate the Role of Patent Protection in Key Australian Industries and the Contribution to Economic Development (2010-12), and led an Indigenous Knowledge Forum project on Recognising and Protecting Indigenous Knowledge associated with Natural Resource Management (2013-14), funded by the Aboriginal Communities Fund of the North West Local land Services. The White Paper produced by that project led to the award of an ARC Linkage Grant (2016-19) for the project - Garuwanga: Forming a Competent Authority to Protect Indigenous Knowledge– which is exploring the governance framework for an access and benefit-sharing regime.

She is the author of numerous publications including: a co-author of the Federation Press publication, Intellectual Property Law: Text and Essential Cases, adopted by several Australian universities and now in its fifth edition; editor of and author in the multidisciplinary book, Accessing Biological Resources, Complying with the Convention on Biological Diversity, published in 2004 by Kluwer Law International Environmental Law & Policy Series;  and currently the managing editor of the newly formed Lexis Nexis series for the Indigenous Knowledge Forum.