Who owns culture and knowledge? You can count on us getting the wrong answer

March 23, 2012

Will Maori pay royalties to the Italians for a cup of this?

If it weren’t for the Treaty of Waitangi, knowledge would be knowledge. Full stop.

But nah. We have knowledge. And we have Maori knowledge.

A burgeoning bit of the Treaty industry relates to efforts to protect this Maori knowledge and ensure that if anyone makes a buck from it, then Maori should be first to cash in.

Long ago we set up a Māori Trade Marks Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the Commissioner of Trade Marks under the Trade Marks Act 2002.

The function of the Advisory Committee under section 178 of the Act is to advise the Commissioner whether the proposed use or registration of a trade mark that is, or appears to be, derivative of a Māori sign, including text and imagery, is, or is likely to be, offensive to Māori.

It keeps a few officials in work, obviously.

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