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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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Chapter 2: Exploitation of traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities

Paul Kuruk


The chapter describes the social, cultural and economic value of traditional knowledge to indigenous and local communities. It also highlights modern day uses of traditional knowledge in the pharmaceutical, agriculture and cosmetic industries as well as the retail market, tourism and entertainment sectors. Concerns about the negative effects on traditional communities arising from the commercial exploitation of traditional knowledge are outlined to build a case for protection premised on greater control by indigenous peoples and local communities over uses of their traditional knowledge. Such concerns include lack of compensation; expropriation of cultural interests; unauthorized public disclosure and use of secret knowledge, images and other sensitive information pertaining to traditional communities; and misrepresentation of products as indigenous. The protection of traditional knowledge is also linked to efforts to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources, foster a sense of cultural or national identity, and promote unity.

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