Innovation and Intellectual Property Management at the Australian Government Clothing Factory

Johanna M.S. van Mosseveld

The wearing of a uniform creates a social division within society: those that belong to the group identified by the uniform and those that don’t.  The wearing of a military uniform gives rise to additional sentiments, especially those of national pride.  It serves to distinguish the nation from others and must be protected from potential imitators.  In 1912 the Australian Government established the Australian Government Clothing Factory in South Melbourne to produce military uniforms.  In collaboration with the Defence Department the Factory became the driving force behind innovations, design specifications, approvals and design protection.  In times of high demand, scores of private clothing firms were contracted to deliver the required quantities of military garments.  They were subjected to detailed specifications describing the methods of manufacture.  Innovation introduced by the Clothing Factory had long lasting effects upon the Australian clothing sector and the development of some industries, in particular the cotton industry.  The manner in which these processes were managed is the subject of this paper.  Much of the material was the result of archival research and is used for the first time in an investigation of innovation and intellectual property management of the Australian military uniforms.