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 34: Human rights perspective on protection of traditional knowledge and intellectual property: A view from island states in the Pacific

Sue Farran


There is pressure from the developed world and indeed from within the under-developed/developing world to put in place intellectual property (IP) regimes which are primarily driven or informed by commercial imperatives and which in turn are predominantly based on Anglo-American or Western-centric models of IP rights, economic values and social organisation. These regimes however, do little to accommodate indigenous approaches to traditional knowledge (TK), forms of cultural expression or what might in Western language be referred to as ‘IP’, despite the fact that there are frameworks of rights which suggest that these forms of property are deserving of respect and protection. In this context, although there are no agreed or fixed definitions of TK, this is understood as: the totality of all knowledge and practices, whether explicit or implicit, used in the management of socio-economic and ecological facets of life. This knowledge is established on past experiences and observation. It is usually a collective property of a society. Many members of the particular society contribute to it over time […] it is modified and enlarged as it is used […] [it] is transmitted from generation to generation. In the Pacific, as elsewhere, this TK pervades many aspects of daily life, from food preparation and cultivation to house building and the carving of canoes, from using the medicinal properties of plants to designing and weaving mats and beyond.

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