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Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources, Customary Law and Intellectual Property

A Global Primer

Paul Kuruk

The book examines the national, regional and international frameworks of protection of traditional knowledge in all regions of the world. It also discusses options to enhance the existing legal regimes including the use of customary laws and protocols; the adoption of mutual recognition agreements premised on the principle of reciprocity; and the disclosure of source or country of origin of traditional knowledge in intellectual property applications.
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Paul Kuruk

I have been helped greatly by many people in writing this book. Cumberland School of Law of Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama provided summer research grants for the book project and also financial assistance to support my participation in conferences on traditional knowledge. I am continually grateful for the friendship and support of the Cumberland School of Law faculty and administration. Special thanks go to Dean Henry C. Strickland, III and former deans Judge John L. Carroll and Parham H. Williams as well as to my colleagues, Professors Edward C. Martin, Joseph A. Snoe, Robert J. Goodwin, Jill E. Evans, Michael E. Debow, Howard P. Walthall, William G. Ross and Brannon P. Denning.

Research for the book also benefitted from a Fulbright Senior Scholarship award by the US State Department, and funding from St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, England; the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, Germany; and the German Academic Exchange Service, Bonn, Germany. I am grateful to Emeritus Professor David Vaver and Dr. Silke von Lewinski for their support and assistance during my stay at Oxford University and the Max Planck Institute, respectively.

I would like to thank my efficient administrative assistant Ms. Tami Zenker for her secretarial services, and my research assistants Ms. Catherine (Kate) Henderson (Cumberland, 2019), Ms. Amy J. Shields (Cumberland, 2005) and Ms. Khushboo Agrawal (NALSAR University, India, 2022) who worked cheerfully in finding sources, chasing down citations, proof reading text and footnotes, and making valuable suggestions for the improvement of the work. I also thank the reference librarians at Cumberland School of Law, particularly Mr. Edward L. Craig, Jr. who has been of great assistance, especially in locating obscure and hard to find sources.

For their comments on previous work related to the book, I am grateful to Professors R. George Wright, and Thomas C. Berg both formerly of Cumberland School of Law; Professor Paul Goldstein the Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor of Law at Stanford Law School; Professor Graeme Dinwoodie, Oxford University; and Professor Derek Asiedu-Akrofi formerly of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

I wish to express my gratitude to the Government of Ghana for the opportunity to serve in several roles: first, as its Representative in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), New York; second, as the Deputy Chairman of the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC), Accra; and third, as a Member of Ghana’s delegation to meetings of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva.

I also thank the IGC where I serve as the Facilitator of international negotiations to develop instruments for the protection of traditional knowledge. For their advice and support over the years, I register my indebtedness to senior officials of the WIPO Secretariat, including Dr. Edward Kwakwa, Mr. Minelik Getahun, Mr. Wend Wendland, Mr. Marc Sery-Kone, and Ms. Loretta Asiedu.

Finally, I could not have completed the work without the unstinting support of my family which has been a constant source of inspiration.

For all of this help noted above, I am deeply grateful. However, I take personal responsibility for errors and inaccuracies in this work.