Law, Knowledge, Culture

Law, Knowledge, Culture

The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property Law

Jane E. Anderson

This informative book investigates how indigenous and traditional knowledge has been produced and positioned within intellectual property law and the effects of this position in both national and international jurisdictions.

Chapter 8: Globalising Indigenous Rights in Intellectual Property

Jane E. Anderson

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


A summary of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its history of engagement with colonial/postcolonial relations establishes the initial discussion for this chapter. This is in order to contextualise the current politics involving the position of indigenous people and indigenous knowledge in international regimes of intellectual property. It will illustrate that the fluidity of issues within the international domain are related to both the decolonisation period following the Second World War and the increased globalisation of markets and trade that dominated the world economic stage for the last quarter of the twentieth century. As already stated in Part One, prior to the establishment of WIPO in 1967, there existed a series of international conventions that regulated intellectual property frameworks and shaped intellectual property norms.1 Theorists have highlighted how these conventions, in particular the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention on the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886), were established through political, social and cultural indices. For example, Saunders argues that the signing of the Berne Convention ‘was the outcome of unforeseeable interactions between a variety of geopolitical interests, legal traditions, cultural politics, commercial calculations, literary and artistic professional pressures and governmental concern with trade economics, foreign policy priorities and national cultural distinction’.2 Bently and Sherman take this argument as a point of departure in their analysis and conclude that, ‘Berne emerged out of a complex matrix of pre-existing international and colonial relations’.3 What is important in Bently and Sherman’s reading of...

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