CHOICE membership

Trademark Applications


There appears to be an assumption here that replacing the existing flag is acceptable to those it has come to represent? Despite a rather one eyed system of copyright which is held in the USA we still use Waltzing Matilda as appropriate.

Why should we change history?

Anyway I like the current flag as a symbol of all that has and has not changed for traditional Australian culture. The fact that the design is subject to a modern concept of property ownership appears contrary to it’s general use and want it represents?


Then simply can the Crown internationally copyright and/or trademark the Flag design, such as the ATSI flag has copyright by it’s designer. Intellectual property laws might cover this.


We already have copyright treaties with a large number of countries that ensure artist’s copyrights are respected overseas. Once again though it does rely on the artist pursuing copyright infringements


Fair point but that is within the scope of “start the process of replacing it with an acceptable (to the aboriginal people), unencumbered flag”. If that process has no outcome because nothing else is acceptable then so be it. The conversation should still be started.

Or play the long game and wait until the design falls out of copyright.

There is a certain irony there, but there’s nothing that we can do about that.


In the US our flag as are any flag of any nation are protected by their Laws and cannot be trademarked or copyrighted by others. Of course works that use some parts of our flag may be able to be used in designs but each use is tested against some fairly strict rules. I am guessing any nation would seek similar treatment and protection.


I am not always a fan of Katter’s politics or hard conservatism, but sometimes he raises his hand in interesting ways.


Katter proposes that the government buys the rights. This is potentially a reasonable solution if the owner cooperates, worth a try at least. If the owner isn’t cooperative what then?

The rest of the article goes on about changing the rules. The petition that kicked off this round doesn’t actually specify what change they want. The initiators are a for profit organisation who want special treatment because they are aboriginal. They say “We believe that this control of the market by a non-indigenous business has to stop.” How? Taking action on principle is one thing writing special rules for one vendor is another.

36,000 signatures is not a huge number. Where are the opinion pieces by aboriginal elders? What are the views of the country’s leaders of any colour? Silence. A few low to middle ranked articles in the press (that I read) and nothing more for the last few days. If there was any indication that many aboriginals and their leaders felt strongly about this I would be more comfortable with government action.


For 24 years it hasn’t been an issue, but only when a for profit business thinks it should be able to make unfettered profits from the use of another’s copyrighted material. Looking at use of the flag on the NAIDOC website, one can use the flag freely, providing one does not cross the line and use it commercially or for profit.

Even sporting codes who use the flag on their apparels were negotiating/have negotiated agreements for the use of the flag. It appears that the petitioner may not have tried hard enough for such agreement of thinks that unlike others, they could use the flag without such agreement.

It could be another 24 years before someone tries something similar. Should the taxpayer be responsible for allowing profit based business to profit freely at the taxpayer expense?

Personally, I would prefer the money which could otherwise be spent on potentially buying the copyright, used for indigenous health or housing. This would have far better return on investment for the taxpayer than buying the copyright.


Unless users are whipping out their sewing machines and making their own flags, every user of the flag is affected by the commercial use restrictions, in the sense that they are paying more for it than they need to if an unencumbered design were used. That also means that the taxpayer is paying more for it, while promoting the interests of the copyright owner, at no cost to the copyright owner.

I don’t want taxpayer money to be spent on buying the copyright (i.e. we are in effect in agreement).

I want those who really care about this to put up their own money (e.g. crowdfund) to buy the copyright, and then put the design in the public domain.

None of this discussion about buying the copyright makes sense unless and until the copyright owner gives any indication of whether he is willing to sell.

The motivation may well be suspect but that doesn’t avoid the underlying issue.

It’s rubbish anyway. The copyright owner is indigenous. Regardless, he is free to lease rights to a non-indigenous business or to an indigenous business (whatever exactly those things are). When I buy ‘stuff’, the ethnic background of the business owner is not a consideration.

Like a lot of these petitions. Hence why I don’t put my name to most of them. You don’t know what you are putting your name to.

I see a fair few of these (and other) petitions. 36,000 is not a bad number. It should be enough to kick off a discussion and see where it leads.


A majority of such transactions start by an unsolicited offer. “I’ll never sell” often kicks off a discussion revealing a real price (sometimes ridiculous) being floated followed by a negotiation.

Should the flag be an issue for government? The government has effectively made it a symbol of the aboriginal people with eyes shut or wide open, depending on one’s view. The aboriginal population are as much and more Australian than the rest of us. Governments fund (eg) sports stadiums, why not a flag for one of its constituencies?

There are a number of interesting issues including the copyright holder himself, the T&C of the copyright holders agreements and those of his licensees, and whether the copyright has been enforced in all cases where a breach has been suspected, which is a legal matter. Unusually messy as ‘national’ flags go, noting it is not a national flag although has a unique relevance as non-national flags go.


Ok, so where did it lead? Not very far. Since the initial few articles it has not had significant support. If it was an important issue just waiting to be heard you might expect significant support from aboriginal leaders.


It isn’t quite as easy as this. If it is assumed that the copyright owner agrees to sell/transfer the copyright to a public organisation for unfettered use, then compensation would need to be paid to the copyright holder and anyone who has a licence or agreement for its commercial use. The waters would be muddied as some businesses which may have commercial rights may claim that this agreement leads to the profitability of their business and the claims could be potentially very expensive.

Also, not everyone has a price. There are many people (a small percentage of the population) which don’t have a price which they are willing to sell property. This could be due to a range of different reasons including emotional/sentimental /religious attachment. This is why all levels of government have compulsory acquisition powers which allows it to still acquire property, when a settlement price or a reasonable price can’t be reached. In working in an organisation which had such powers, a physiologists once explained why some won’t sell and I recall the example of how much would you sell one’s sight (eyes) for. The discussion amongst a group ended up that no-one was willing to sell their sight as even if one did sell for say $1B, one would not enjoy the rewards associated with the proceeds of the sale. While this was not directly about owned property like copyright (and more about live’s enjoyment), it explained the behaviour of why some chose not to sell property at any price.

While running a crowd funded scheme to raise the money may seem admirable, it is unlikely to provide a resolution and may be seen as forcing the hand of the copyrighter…strengthening the copyrighter’s resolve.

It is also appears that it is the copyright owner that wishes to strongly protect his interests…

In 2010 Thomas was involved in a dispute with Google over its intended use of a 12-year-old Australian girl’s artwork incorporating the Australian Aboriginal Flag into its logo. Thomas refused to allow Google to use the image featuring the flag after negotiations over compensation failed, resulting in a modified design in which the flag was not used. Thomas claimed that Google had opened negotiations with a request for free use of the flag and, while he allowed free use to non-commercial operations that gave health, educational, legal and other assistance to Aboriginal people, he charged a fee to commercial operations. He described Google’s subsequent offer as a “pittance”.

Thomas has since given exclusive commercial rights to three companies, "one to reproduce flags, and the others to reproduce the image on objects and clothing.(

The media recently has attacked the licencee of the copyright, blaming the licencee for being zealous in relation to protection of copyright rights. I appears from information available publicly that it in fact could be the copyright holder who has the very strong conviction.

Also, maybe the copyright holder uses any funds raised to improve the living standards/lifestyle enjoyment of the rest of his people. This may or may not be the case would could also affect any decision to acquire.

As there has not been any issue for 24 years and may never be an issue in the future if organisations and individuals abide by the copyright requirements, then they may not be any problem in the future. In some respects, it is a storm in a tea cup created by someone who wants a bit of the profit pie.

The indigenous community may have issue with this as this may allow non-indigenous to also use the flag freely. This may be known and unintended consequences of free use of the flag by all.

With the currently arrangements, there appears to be some control over who has the right for its use.

This is a very good point and wonder why this has not occurred. Maybe the elders are happy with the existing (past 24 year) arrangements can can see no reason to change.

Why elders aren’t adverse to the existing arrangements I don’t know but it could be because their activities and the use of the flag would possible fall into the category of a non-commercial operation…allow their free use of the flag.


I wonder if Harold Thomas and the Indigenous Elders are aware of the conduct of Ben Wooster’s failed company, Birubi Arts Pty Ltd, in regarding to selling fake Indigenous art which was actually made overseas and falsely sold as genuine.

I would have expected that they would prefer to deal with Spark Health, an Indigenous business providing Indigenous healthcare supported by selling genuine Indigenous art through their Clothing The Gap business.

I have not yet seen the decision of the Federal Court in regard to the fine which was due to handed down to Birubi Arts Pty Ltd last Friday, but it will probably be irrelevant as the company is in liquidation and the director has moved on to WAM Clothing.

Interesting, as stated in an SBS News article dated 12.06.2019 which was reproduced from Koori News on 05.06.201, Ben Wooster had already set up Gifts Mate Pty Ltd and a Google search for Birubi Arts Pty Ltd leads to which has a link to “Birubi Arts Pty Ltd.

Clicking on the link leads to so it appears to be business as usual despite the liquidation.

I’m disgusted.


Good point. I meant this discussion. I’m not planning on making an unsolicited offer. Are you? :slight_smile:

The government has made it so by proclaiming it an official flag.

For the change that I would like to see (avoid this stuff-up in the future) it would require parliament to be in session. I think parliament is not in session, so I wouldn’t expect it to have led to anything as yet even in the most optimistic scenario.

Good point. I realised that. I assumed on no evidence that no copyright owner would be silly enough to sign contracts with no ‘out’ clause e.g. contract has a duration of some number of years after which the copyright owner could exit the contract without penalty.

Yes, it could emerge that the copyright owner is resolutely opposed to sale under any terms, in which case the flag is hopelessly encumbered. You don’t know until you ask.

True but all commercial entities are subject to the ACL and could not use the flag to misrepresent or mislead. In addition the provisions that currently protect the Australian flag could (and should) be extended to protect all official flags.


An article regarding the wonderful, altruistic folks at JUUL applying for more than a dozen trademarks in Australia whilst stating that their mission is to improve the lives of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers.

And another article regarding a teenager who had a hole blasted out of his jaw when an e-cigarette exploded and another person who was killed by one.

With friends like JUUL, who needs enemies?



Maybe they missed three words…

‘improve their proffits through the lives of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers’


Is this about disputed or misuse of trade marks and the process behind trademarks?

The application by JUUL for trademarks is related to vaping and big tobacco? A warning of a renewed push by the industry.

Amazing, that E-cigs can be turned into mini explosive devices, if unintentionally, by accident? :thinking:


The US DoD is aware! Apparently the remote firing command facility still has some bugs.


I believe you have nailed it.


Sticking to the topic :slight_smile:

Among the pieces of intellectual property the $50 billion company is looking to secure are its logo, its distinctive hexagon-shaped pods and the verb “juuling”.

Doesn’t seem too controversial (as long as the hexagon IP is limited to vaping paraphernalia). I don’t think “juuling” will catch on though as vaping is already an accepted word and “juuling” doesn’t seem as if it offers anything better.

Last week it applied to trademark the phrase “make the switch” – its international campaign slogan and pitch to smokers around the globe.

That seems more controversial. Surely some other company has already used that? A specific example doesn’t come to mind though.