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The Assignment of Copyright in the Aboriginal Flag

  • 7 Apr 2022
  • 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Online via Zoom (link provided upon registration)


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Please join us on 7 April 2022 at 6pm AEST for a discussion on the assignment of Copyright in the Aboriginal Flag presented by Colin Golvan QC and Chrystal Dare, chaired by Dr Warwick Rothnie, and hosted by AIPPI and IPSANZ.


The artist who created the Aboriginal flag, Harold Thomas, recently assigned his copyright in the flag to the Commonwealth. The assignment brought to an end the private ownership of copyright in one of Australia’s official national flags and widely adopted symbol of Aboriginal unity. In monetary terms, it was the single largest art transaction ever recorded in Australia, with a sum of $20.05m in total being paid for the assignment ($13.75m) and the buy-out of some contentious licences ($6.3m).  


Colin Golvan AM QC, together with Kate Hay, Chrystal Dare and a team at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, negotiated the assignment, on behalf of Harold Thomas, over a period of two years. Colin and Chrystal will be speaking on the history of the flag, including the authorship dispute decided in Thomas v Brown (1997) 37 IPR 207, and the recent complex assignment transaction, which is of national importance. 

About the Speakers

Colin Golvan AM QC is an IP barrister at the Victorian Bar. He has appeared in copyright, trade marks, designs and patent cases, as well as in competition and misleading conduct cases, in the Federal and High Court of Australia. In particular, Colin has acted in numerous copyright infringement cases for Aboriginal artists. He represented Harold Thomas in his authorship dispute in the 1990s and in the recent assignment of copyright in the Aboriginal flag to the Commonwealth.

Chrystal Dare, Special Counsel, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, is a copyright and brand specialist who practises extensively in the IP jurisdiction, both in contentious and non-contentious advisory matters.  Chrystal’s practice traverses technology, fashion and arts sectors (among others), and she contributes to the galleries sector including on the board of the peak body for art galleries in Victoria.

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