The attempt to trademark the phrase “Always Was, Always Will Be” has reportedly failed, however, it still remains an affront to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous-owned and run clothing company Clothing The Gaps recently issued an update on the case.

Christopher Michaelides, a New South Wales resident, filed the application to trademark the phrase on 26 January, 2021.

His choice of “Australia Day” to file the application has not gone unnoticed, with the application becoming widespread public knowledge in April last year.

Earlier this week, Clothing The Gaps issued a statement on the matter.

“We became aware – and outraged – of this application in April last year. Since then, we’ve had our trademark lawyers do further research into this and send us a breakdown of what this means.

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

“Certain Aboriginal phrases belong to our whole Community, not individuals. It’s particularly shameful when non-Indigenous people try to take ownership of our language, history and struggle,” they said.

The application highlighted the ongoing issue of cultural appropriation and the non- Indigenous use of Aboriginal community symbols and phrases for commercial ends.

In 2019, Clothing The Gaps was threatened with legal action of its use of the Aboriginal flag on apparel, after WAM Clothing had been granted exclusive rights to its use by the flag’s designer, Luritja man Harold Thomas.

The social enterprise then began the ‘Free the Flag’ campaign which gained further traction the following year when the AFL was unable to come to an agreement with the exclusive rights holder of the flag as part of its Indigenous round.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt told the National Indigenous Times in December that negotiations with Mr Thomas and the licensees of the flag are “continuing” and the Government was not considering compulsory acquisition of the rights to the flag.

By Giovanni Torre