Dr Irina Santiago-Brown, co-owner and chief winemaker of Inkwell Wines in McLaren Vale, is suing the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) for copyright infringement.
She released a statement today saying she has filed suit in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia against the AWRI and AGW for allegedly plagiarising her published research in their Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) system.
WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine is seeking comment from the AWRI and AGW.
The suit alleges infringement of copyright and breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, among other things, and seeks damages and court costs for the harm incurred.
The statement says, “The research in question is Dr Santiago-Brown’s published PhD research from 2011 to 2014 including the Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) system she developed for the McLaren Vale wine region as part of her PhD research.
“Dr Santiago-Brown received the world’s first PhD granted on Sustainability in Viticulture from the University of Adelaide in 2014.
“Her research and PhD were underwritten by scholarships and funding from the University of Adelaide and Wine Australia (then the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation or GWRDC).”
Dr Santiago-Brown says, “This is a regrettable step that I am forced to take in order to protect my professional reputation and my rights to my copyrighted work.
“The AWRI failed to acknowledge my research that they used when they released their SWA system in 2019.”
She alleges the AWRI has continued to refuse to recognise her contributions appropriately since she raised her concerns in writing with its managing director, Dr Mark Krstic, and its board in 2020.
“Additionally, the AWRI has copyrighted portions of my original research creating an absurd situation potentially requiring me to seek their approval to use my own work in order to not be sued by them for using it,” Dr Santiago-Brown says.
“That I should have to go to such lengths and expense to sue a body I pay levies and taxes to support, is particularly galling.
“It is like they are trying to erase me from the Australian wine industry and academic community.”