WIPR Influential Women in IP 2020
www.worldipreview.com Indigenous entrepreneurs
an IP webinar to share with the Native American artist
community who, she says, are hungry for information.
What most dismays Secord is the cost of protecting
IP and filing lawsuits. “Unless you can get pro bono
help, it’s going to be impossible for indigenous
communities to hire a lawyer,” she laments.
Forsgren concludes: “Laws and regulations need to
be in place where the IP for innovations and creations
of indigenous women is respected and valued.
Possibilities to protect their IP should be available
to indigenous women on all levels, local, national
While traditional knowledge doesn’t fit squarely
into the existing IP system, there’s a growing
awareness that this needs to change. In the
meantime, skills that have existed for centuries will
be passed on and their importance to the creators
will endure—as will the sad fact that indigenous
women have only the charity of lawyers and moral
fortitude of lawmakers to fall back on. l
women, can “feel that their culture is an asset, with a
great cultural as well as economic value”.
But cultural appropriation is rife, as the Native
American and Sámi communities have both
experienced to their cost.
“IP gives us the knowledge and tools to address
this and ensures we’re able to define what is ours and
what makes us unique,” says Secord. “But we have
to be invited as collaborators and not be invited as
There have been some positive instances of
collaboration, but they’ve usually stemmed from
earlier controversies. The Walt Disney Company
worked with the transnational Saami Council, and
Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden, and Finland
on “Frozen 2”, but only after it was contacted by the
indigenous community about “Frozen” and its use
of indigenous elements.
Emboldened by the WIPO programme, Secord is
planning to register her own logo and is developing
Above: Theresa Secord, a
member of the Penobscot
nation, a federally
recognised tribe in Maine,
US. Top: Secord's great
grandmother, in 1940.
Above left: Solveig Ballo, a
member of the SaÂmi people,
from a region that spans
northern Scandinavia and
Russia's Kola Peninsula.