Call for ‘heart tick’ style mark to boost Indigenous business

Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses alike could benefit under a proposal for a “heart tick” style mark that verifies the authenticity of Indigenous art works and cultural references.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses alike could benefit under a proposal for a “heart tick” style mark that verifies the authenticity of Indigenous art works and cultural references.

The idea is a small part of a bigger vision for reform of intellectual property rules as they apply to Indigenous works and ideas proposed by lawyer Terri Janke in a speech to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra on Friday.

Janke proposes that a “national indigenous cultural authority” should be established to manage and safeguard the intellectual property of Indigenous people in their ideas, practices and art.

The body would work in a similar way to the Australian Performing Rights Association, which works as a kind of collective IP clearing house on behalf of musicians.

Firms seeking to use Indigenous ideas or motifs would be able to negotiate use through the body. Once a deal is reached, the business would be able to display some form of recognisable mark that would verify the authenticity and legitimacy of the use.

Janke says the availability of such a mark or label would benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses alike.

“It would protect Indigenous arts and culture but, on the other side, would give value to retailers, manufacturers and consumers by making a really clear distinction between the bogus and those making value,” she says.

Janke also argues an organisation should be established to help Indigenous businesses get better access to corporate supply chains. A similar body, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, has been operating in the US for 35 years and helped more than 15,000 minority owned firms win work worth hundreds of billions.

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