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History of ACIPA

The Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA) was established in 2000 with the generous support of the Grains Research Development Corporation. Since then, ACIPA has partnered with and been funded by a wide range of bodies including the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Horticulture Australia Limited, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, the Queensland State Government, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth Department of Environment, the Plant Breeder's Rights Office within IP Australia, the Australian Research Council, the Christensen Fund, and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

ACIPA members Brad Sherman, Leanne Wiseman, Jay Sanderson and Carol Ballard at CGIAR’s ClipNet IP Managers’ meeting held in Hyderabad, India from 17-19 July 2012
ACIPA members Brad Sherman, Leanne Wiseman, Jay Sanderson and Carol Ballard at CGIAR's ClipNet IP Managers' meeting held in Hyderabad, India from 17-19 July 2012

Since its establishment in 2000, ACIPA has been actively involved in a wide range of research, training and policy work relating to intellectual property in agriculture. ACIPA members have a long history of innovative, independent and critical research on intellectual property in agriculture. While the initial focus of the Centre was the Australian grains industry, our research, training activities and policy work quickly spread to other areas of agriculture. Over the past decade, ACIPA has worked closely with a range of stakeholder groups including farmers and growers, researchers, breeders, research scientists, Indigenous communities and policy makers to build awareness and understanding about intellectual property.

While ACIPA initially focused on intellectual property developments in Australia, our focus widened to include research, training and policy work outside of Australia. This includes work with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community on intellectual property in the Pacific, research in the Solomon Islands on patent protection for natural substances and Indigenous knowledge, and capacity building within Pacific Countries on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

In addition to our research and capacity building in relation to intellectual property and agriculture, ACIPA researchers have also continuously undertaken research in other areas of intellectual property from a range of perspectives (historical, theoretical and empirical). ACIPA has also had a longstanding interest and commitment to improve Indigenous intellectual property. This has led to research on a range of topics including trade marks and labels of authenticity, copyright protection for artistic and cultural works through to research on biodiscovery, bioprospecting and traditional knowledge. ACIPA has also hosted a range of national and international conferences, and run a successful intellectual property seminar series in Brisbane and Canberra. ACIPA researchers have also been actively involved in a range of policy reviews and reforms.

Gram Parsons - The Patron Saint of ACIPA
Gram Parsons - The Patron Saint of ACIPA

In 2009, ACIPA expanded its research activities to examine intellectual property and agriculture in developing countries. This has subsequently been supported by grants from the Australian Research Council and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research on capacity building in developing countries on intellectual property and agriculture. This research has already generated a number of important publications and a successful international conference on 'Law and the Future of Food' (held in Canberra in March 2012). As part of the shift in focus towards intellectual property and agriculture in developing countries, ACIPA has forged strong links with CGIAR (formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). This linkage provides ACIPA with a unique opportunity to explore the role that intellectual property plays in food security, which is a major focus of our current research. In 2013, as part of its move to Griffith University's Southbank campus, ACIPA re-launched its IP Seminar Series and re-established its annual intellectual property conference.