Last weekend, the Aboriginal Flag was absent from the AFL’s Indigenous Round for the first time in fourteen years.
The Indigenous Round highlighted that the Australian Aboriginal Flag is still marred in copyright and licensing controversies.
While many Aboriginal persons, Aboriginal-owned businesses, organisations acknowledging and supporting Aboriginal culture and history, as well as many members of the Australian community have expressed their anger over the copyright of the Aboriginal Flag since mid-2019, the Flag’s glaring absence from AFL’s Indigenous Round created yet another uproar.
Although the Aboriginal Flag is an official flag of Australia under the Flags Act 1953 (Cth), it is also uniquely a privately-owned and copyrightable work under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).
Non-Indigenous clothing company, WAM Clothing, entered into an exclusive licence agreement with the Flag’s creator, Harold Thomas.
Last year, WAM Clothing issued “cease and desist” notices to the AFL and NRL, as well as Aboriginal-owned businesses like our client Clothing The Gap.
This has been followed by a legal challenge to Clothing The Gap’s right to sell a range of products celebrating the Flag through its fashion label, with 100% of profits from every purchase at Clothing The Gap adding years to Aboriginal people’s lives through funding independent and self-determining health and education programs delivered by Wellah and enables our team to continue to educate, advocate, celebrate and motivate people for social change.
Clothing The Gap started the #PrideNotProfit Petition calling for action to allow the Flag to be used by First Nations people, as originally intended. Having achieved its initial 50,000 signature target, they are now aiming for 150,000 signatures!
This is an issue close to FAL Lawyers’ heart. We have been working alongside Clothing The Gap, providing Intellectual Property and Trade Mark advice and assistance throughout the campaign.
Please show your support for Indigenous Australian people’s right to use and celebrate their Flag by signing and sharing #PrideNotProfit Petition.