Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property

Edited by Christophe Geiger

Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property is a comprehensive reference work on the intersection of human rights and intellectual property law. Resulting from a field-specific expertise of over 40 scholars and professionals of world renown, the book explores the practical and doctrinal implications of human rights on intellectual property law and jurisprudence. In particular, the chapters scrutinize issues related to interactions among and between norms of different legal families, the role of human rights in development of the balanced intellectual property legal framework, standing case-law of national and regional courts and intellectual property offices reconciling overlapping rights and obligations, and identify the practical significance of different human rights for the exercise of intellectual property rights.
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Chapter 33: Using intellectual property rules to support the self-determination goals of indigenous peoples

Susy Frankel


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. The above Article from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is a statement of self-determination goals. Article 3 of UNDRIP provides an overarching goal of self-determinationand Article 31 is a detailed branch of that goal. It arose because the protection of the knowledge assets of indigenous peoples receives thin, if any, legal recognition let alone effective protection, while the knowledge assets of industrialised economies are strongly protected through international intellectual property minimum standards of protection. UNDRIP is not a binding treaty. As its name indicates it is a declaration, however, it captures the heart of what might be called the international problem of the inadequate protection of traditional knowledge. The kind of aspirations that Article 31 of UNDRIP expresses are an attempt to address the imbalance between the protection of intellectual property such as patents, copyright and trademarks, and the lack of protection of traditional knowledge.

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