• Protestors cheer during a rally protesting against the forced closure of Aboriginal Communities in Melbourne on 1 May 2015. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Source: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Clothing the Gaps say it’s unlikely the application will be accepted, but it doesn’t make it okay.
Nadine Silva

12 Jan 2022 - 3:30 PM  UPDATED 12 Jan 2022 - 3:31 PM

First Nations fashion label Clothing the Gaps have raised the alarm on a non-Indigenous man who is attempting to trademark the phrase ‘Always Was Always Will Be’.

If successful, Christopher Michaelides would have the exclusive rights to sell clothes and merchandise with the slogan that dates back to the Aboriginal land rights movement in far-western New South Wales in the 1970s.

“Certain Aboriginal phrases belong to our whole Community, not individuals,” Clothing The Gaps posted on Instagram.

“It’s particularly shameful when non-Indigenous people try to take ownership of our language, history and struggle.”

The phrase is known to come from a conversation between the late Barkandji man Uncle William Bates and his father.

It’s now a renowned rallying cry at Aboriginal civil rights protests around the country.

On 26 January 2021, Mr Michaelides applied to trademark the phrase with IP Australia, the government agency that administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs and plant breeder's rights.

“We became aware and outraged of this application in April last year,” Clothing the Gaps said.

“Since then we’ve had our trademark lawyers do further research into this and send us a breakdown of what this means.

“It’s unlikely this trademark application will be accepted, however, this does not make it okay.”

IP Australia is due to decide on Mr Michaelides’ application by 12 July.

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