WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
This is one of a series of Booklets dealing with intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions/folklore
Disclaimer: The information contained in this booklet is not meant as a substitute for professional legal advice. Its main purpose is limited to providing basic information. Certain images used in this booklet have been obtained from commercially available databases to which WIPO subscribes. Credit for the Cover photos : 1: Ana Carvalho (also p.3); 2: FAO/19469/G. Bizzarri; 4: FAO/14904/G.d. Onofrio
Traditional Knowledge Traditional Knowledge: Key to a Diverse and Sustainable Future Indigenous and local communities justly cherish traditional knowledge (TK) as a part of their very cultural identities. Maintaining the distinct knowledge systems that give rise to TK can be vital for their future well-being and sustainable development and for their intellectual and cultural vitality. For many communities, TK forms part of an holistic world-view, and is inseparable from their very ways of life and their cultural values, spiritual beliefs and customary legal systems. This means that it is vital to sustain not merely the knowledge but the social and physical environment of which it forms an integral part. TK also has a strong practical component, since it is often developed in part as an intellectual response to the necessities of life: this means that it can be of direct and indirect benefit to society more broadly. There are many examples of important technologies being derived directly from TK. But when others seek to benefit from TK, especially for industrial or commercial advantage, this can lead to concerns that the knowledge has been misappropriated and that the role and contribution of TK holders has not been recognized and
Traditional Knowledge: Key to a Diverse and Sustainable Future A Brief Overview Key Concepts Definitions and use of terms What are the challenges confronting TK holders? What kind of legal protection for TK Forms of protection Positive Protection − Recognition of IP Rights in TK Use of existing intellectual property laws Adaptations of existing IP through sui generis measures Use of sui generis exclusive rights Other legal concepts for the protection of TK Defensive Protection − Safeguarding against Illegitimate IP Rights over TK Amendment of existing WIPO administered patent systems Practical capacity-building tools Conclusion
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respected. One of the challenges posed by the modern age is to find ways of strengthening and nurturing the roots of TK, even in times of social dislocation and change, so that the fruits of TK can be enjoyed by future generations, and so that traditional communities can continue to
A Brief Overview A Brief Overview
This kind of challenge arises in a host of immediate, practical ways. Some examples:
thrive and develop in ways consistent with their own values and interests. At the same time, TK holders stress that their TK should not be used by others inappropriately, without their consent and arrangements for fair sharing of the benefits; more generally, it leads to calls for greater respect and recognition for the values, contributions and concerns of TK holders.
a recent agreement would give traditional healers in Samoa a share of the benefits from a new AIDS drug drawing on their knowledge of the mamala tree; the Kani tribe of South India is to share in the benefits from a new sports drug that is based on their knowledge of the medicinal plant arogyapaacha; representatives of TK holders have opposed patents drawing on their TK (e.g. concerning the use of extracts from the neem tree, and the use of turmeric as a wound-healing agent); traditional ecological knowledge held by Aboriginal communities in...
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