IPIC Committee Profile: Indigenous IP Committee
The relationship between intellectual property law and the protection of Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions is a complex subject that has been receiving increasing attention over the last few years. This is reflected in, for example, the Federal Government’s 2018 Intellectual Property Strategy which includes initiatives that reflect the needs and interests of Indigenous peoples. IPIC’s Indigenous IP Committee is playing a role in Canada to raise awareness of these challenging issues. We reached out to Paula Clancy, the Chair of the committee, to learn about the work of the committee.
IPIC: What is the committee’s mandate?
The committee seeks to educate IP professionals about Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions; to examine the gaps in the Western Intellectual Property system that may create access barriers for Indigenous artists, authors, businesses, and innovators; to educate Indigenous communities about IP and how IP can be used to protect artistic works, designs, brands, and innovations; and to bring awareness to IP owners about cultural misappropriation
IPIC: How has the pandemic affected the work and mission of the committee this year?
Fortunately, the committee has not been significantly impacted by the pandemic and they were able to successfully include a panel on Indigenous IP issues at the first ever IPIC Virtual Annual Conference. Moreover, they were also able to complete an infographic entitled "Indigenous Traditional Knowledge & Cultural Expression: How Do They Intersect with the Western Intellectual Property System" which is now available. Finally, they have made inroads in building bridges and connected with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
IPIC: What are some of the challenges facing Indigenous knowledge and IP in Canada?
This is still an area that needs to be examined and explored given that Indigenous concepts of community property, traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions do not necessarily fit squarely within Western IP regimes. The committee’s goal is to bring awareness to these issues and foster ongoing discussions.
IPIC: How does the committee’s work advance the mission and vision of IPIC?
One of IPIC’s key strategic goals is to encourage diversity and inclusion – the committee’s work helps to support this goal by bringing awareness to a traditionally marginalized community, and raising awareness of issues surrounding misappropriation of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
IPIC: Are there any upcoming webinars/talks related to Indigenous IP?
The committee is planning to present a webinar on the intersection between Indigenous IP and patents/genetic resources in 2021.
The Indigenous IP Committee’s members are:
- Paul Blizzard
- Stephanie Chong
- Paula Clancy
- Vincent de Grandpré
- Meika Ellis
- Kevin E. Holbeche
- Sheema Khan Ph.D.
- R. Scott MacKendrick
- Beatrice T. Ngatcha
- Marcel van der Sluis