Indigenous SMEs and Intellectual Property

For all companies small, medium or large, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to intellectual property (IP). SMEs run by Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) can, however, face additional challenges and concerns as they begin to navigate the IP system. While seemingly daunting at first glance, here are some of the key approaches taken by IPLCs to protect their tradition-based innovations and creations.

8 ways for indigenous SMEs to take advantage of IP

1. Protect your contemporary traditional cultural expressions with copyright

2. Use industrial design rights to protect the way your products look and feel

3. Register distinctive Indigenous words, names and symbols as trademarks

4. Distinguish your goods/services with certification/collective marks

5. Link your goods and services to a place with a geographical indication

6. Protect your innovations based on traditional knowledge

7. Keep your traditional knowledge confidential with trade secrets

8. Use unfair competition laws as a defense mechanism