Table of Contents

Indigenous Intellectual Property

Indigenous Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Matthew Rimmer

This Handbook considers the international struggle to provide for proper and just protection of Indigenous intellectual property. Leading scholars consider legal and policy controversies over Indigenous knowledge in the fields of international law, copyright law, trademark law, patent law, trade secrets law, and cultural heritage. This collection examines national developments in Indigenous intellectual property from around the world. As well as examining the historical origins of conflicts over Indigenous knowledge, the volume examines new challenges to Indigenous intellectual property from emerging developments in information technology, biotechnology, and climate change.

Introduction: mapping Indigenous intellectual property

Matthew Rimmer

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, human rights, intellectual property law


The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 provides a broad, holistic definition of Indigenous intellectual property. The preamble took the view that ‘respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment’. Article 31 (1) provides a broad recognition of Indigenous intellectual property: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. Article 31 (2) stipulates: ‘In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.’