Indigenous Peoples and Intellectual Property

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

The intersection of the intellectual property (IP) system and the protection of Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions is receiving increasing attention within Indigenous communities in Canada, among government policy-makers and in international trade and policy fora. Indigenous peoples have a particular stake in this area as it relates to their broader interests in protecting their knowledge and culture and ensuring its appropriate use.

In spring 2018, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced the Intellectual Property Strategy as part of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan. Building on the Government of Canada's commitments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to recognize Indigenous rights, the Strategy includes initiatives aimed at making Canada's IP system more inclusive and reflective of the needs and interests of Indigenous peoples.

Educational and awareness resources

Introduction to IP Rights and Protection of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Expressions in Canada

The relationship between IP and the protection of Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions is complex and challenging. Learn more about their relationship in Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights and the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Expressions in Canada. This information is also available in Inuktitut PDF - 329 KBPlains Cree PDF - 370 KBOjibwe PDF- 332 KB, Michif PDF — 196 KB and Mi'kmaq PDF - 323 KB.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office training and awareness raising

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is developing targeted materials and programs in partnership with Indigenous organizations, business, academia and regional offices.

Data Collection on Indigenous IP awareness and use

IP protections, services and resources remain widely underutilized by Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs across Canada. Work to collect data on the awareness and use of IP protections, services and resources by Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs has started and results are expected to be published by winter 2020.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Experiences with Canada's Intellectual Property System

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Experiences with Canada's Intellectual Property System: Stonecircle Report Executive Summary provides a synthesis of the responses of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) respondents who participated in the qualitative research study regarding their knowledge of and experiences with Canada's IP system.

Funding and capacity building programs

Indigenous Intellectual Property Program

A newly created grant program supports Indigenous peoples' IP awareness and capacity building as well as participation in the development and implementation of law, policy and programs at both the domestic and international level relating to the relationship between IP and the protection of Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions. The program, launched by the Minister on April 26, 2019, included support for the WIPO Voluntary Fund and Canadian Indigenous organizations.

There are also a number of Government of Canada programs that support the preservation, protection, and development of Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions.

Domestic and international engagement

Workshops in Canada

WIPO Committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore

  • Canada participates in negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (WIPO IGC) to conclude one or more legal instrument(s) for the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources. The Canadian delegation organizes a meeting with accredited observers and Indigenous representative organizations prior to each WIPO IGC session.
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