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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 4: International intellectual property law

Paul Kuruk


The chapter evaluates the protection of traditional knowledge under the major international intellectual property instruments. It notes that the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the TRIPs Agreement do not provide any form of protection. However, the rights recognized for performers under the Rome Convention Performances and Phonograms Treaty, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty and the Beijing Treaty could be exercised by performers of expressions of traditional knowledge. Although the Berne Convention contains a provision on anonymous works that is considered to be potentially relevant to the protection of traditional knowledge, there is no evidence that the instrument has been used for this purpose by any country. The chapter also highlights initiatives to revise the TRIPs Agreement to provide for protection of traditional knowledge including the incorporation of an obligation to disclose the source or origin of such knowledge.

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