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Santiago-Brown Sues Australian Wine Research Institute and Australian Grape and Wine for Copyright Infringement, Releases Statement



Dr. Irina Santiago-Brown of Tatachilla, South Australia announced today that she has filed suit in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, against the Australian Wine Industry Research Institute Limited (AWRI) and Australian Grape and Wine Incorporated (AGW – the Australian national wine Industry trade body) for plagiarizing her published research in their Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) system for the Australian wine industry.


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 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 said today that “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. They have continued to refuse to recognize my contributions appropriately since I raised my concerns in writing with their Managing Director, Dr. Mark Krstic, and their 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. 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.”


Dr. Santiago-Brown came to Australia from Brazil in 2009 as a self-financed, mature student to study viticulture. Her Master’s thesis attracted the interest of the University for her to undertake a PhD on a University Scholarship. Her PhD research then attracted funding by the GWRDC. The SAW system she developed was released to great fanfare in 2014 and her PHD received a Dean’s Commendation for excellence.


Dr. Santiago-Brown is now co-owner, Chief Winemaker and Head of Viticulture for Inkwell Wines in McLaren Vale, South Australia.


Media Contact:
Dudley Brown – or (61) 04 3005 0115