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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 15: Reciprocity and mutual recognition agreements

Paul Kuruk


The chapter examines an alternative mechanism for the protection of traditional knowledge based on the principle of reciprocity and recommends the use of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) as a special application of the reciprocity principle. It points out features of the MRA that make it relevant to the protection of traditional knowledge, especially in overcoming the reluctance of countries to agree to a binding instrument that would require amendment of national laws to provide for the protection of traditional knowledge. The chapter then elaborates on the scope of protection envisaged in an MRA on traditional knowledge. It concludes that while MRAs do not apply to non-parties and thus will have no effect in countries that refuse to subscribe to them, the common principles such agreements reflect could form the basis for and influence quite positively the development of future international instruments for the protection of traditional knowledge.

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