Intellectual property law and the protection of traditional knowledge

February 18, 2006

Growing biopiracy concerns have fueled urgent calls for a new system of legal protection for traditional knowledge. Detractors of the current patent systems say that the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities does not readily fit into the existing rules of the industrialized world and that these rules basically promote the interests of the industrialized world. However, Charles McManis, J.D., IP and technology law expert and the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, argues that "at least in the short run, existing intellectual property regimes offer the most realistic avenue for securing effective legal protection for traditional knowledge holders."

McManis presented a paper on this topic during the "Ancient Wisdom/Contemporary Science: Traditional Knowledge in the 21st Century," panel held on Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement science, held Feb. 16-20 in St. Louis.

According to McManis, existing IP rules, the closely related law of unfair competition, and associated contractual mechanisms can provide far more comprehensive legal protection for the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples than is generally acknowledged.

"Minor modification of the patent application process could not only affirmatively protect the genetic resources of developing countries but also help prevent authentic instances of biopiracy," he says.

"Creating a completely new system is likely to be fraught with far more practical and theoretical difficulties than would be involved in modifying the current patent system to require disclosure of the origin of relevant genetic resources and evidence of prior informed consent of those providing such resources and/or any associated traditional knowledge as a condition for enforcing otherwise valid intellectual property rights."

Washington University in St. Louis

Related Indigenous Peoples Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Indigenous knowledge still undervalued - study
New research has found that Indigenous knowledge is regularly underutilised and misunderstood when making important environmental decisions.

Indigenous property rights protect the Amazon rainforest
One way to cut back on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest - and help in the global fight against climate change - is to grant more of Brazil's indigenous communities full property rights to tribal lands.

Amazonian Indigenous territories are crucial for conservation
A new study from the University of Helsinki shows that Indigenous territories represent around 45% of all the remaining wilderness areas in the Amazon, comprising an area of three times the surface of Germany.

Indigenous people vital for understanding environmental change
Grassroots knowledge from indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research.

Climate scientists increasingly ignore ecological role of indigenous peoples
In their zeal to promote the importance of climate change as an ecological driver, climate scientists increasingly are ignoring the profound role that indigenous peoples played in fire and vegetation dynamics, not only in the eastern United States but worldwide, according to a Penn State researcher.

Weaving Indigenous knowledge with scientific research: a balanced approach
Insights from bicultural research can enhance practical applications from a palaeotsunami database to land-use decisions, according to a new review in Earth Surface Dynamics

Indigenous protection
The global reach of COVID-19 is unquestionable. Every day, news reports highlight the disease's increasing toll on countries and major cities around the world.

Health impacts of pollution upon indigenous peoples
A new study from the University of Helsinki presents the current state of knowledge on the exposure and vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples to environmental pollution, reviewing the innumerable impacts that pollution poses on Indigenous communities from all over the world.

Commentary on an approach to Indigenous homelessness
Indigenous historian and York University professor Jesse Thistle and Dr.

Read More: Indigenous Peoples News and Indigenous Peoples Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to