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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 9: Perspectives from the United States

Paul Kuruk


The chapter surveys US government initiatives on indigenous cultural heritage including the Antiquities Act, the Historic Sites Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Indian Arts and Craft Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. It explains the jurisdiction of Native American tribal courts and use of those institutions to control the exploitation of traditional knowledge. It also discusses the perceived relegation of traditional knowledge to the public domain under the free exercise and establishment clauses of the US Constitution, and efforts to revoke registration of certain disparaging trademarks on grounds they were not constitutionally protected free speech. After an assessment of international commitments (not) assumed by the US in relation to traditional knowledge, the chapter summarizes the US stance in ongoing debates at various global fora regarding the adoption of a binding international arrangement for the protection of traditional knowledge.

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