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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 3: Traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights

Paul Kuruk


The chapter summarizes the scope of rights in different types of intellectual property, explains common justifications for the intellectual property system and points out similarities between traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. This is followed by an assessment of the relevance of intellectual property for the positive protection of traditional knowledge especially against unauthorized use, the use of misleading or false indications as to authenticity or origin and to prevent derogatory or offensive uses of traditional knowledge. The chapter also explores the extent to which intellectual property could be used defensively by requiring the disclosure in intellectual property applications of the source or origin of traditional knowledge. It is noted that it would be difficult to protect traditional knowledge in a comprehensive manner in light of challenges with fitting some forms of traditional knowledge into well-known criteria of intellectual property, including ownership, novelty, fixation and duration.

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