Sociology Index

Traditional Knowledge

Knowledge that is local or indigenous is caled traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge refers to the social customs and traditions of indigenous, or local communities. Traditional knowledge includes wisdom and long tested teachings of these communities. Traditional knowledge is not just personal or spiritual, but also has economic value. Traditional Knowledge might be protected through conventional Intellectual Property law, through the use of Copyright law, Patent law, Geographical Indicatons, or Trademark Law. Many regions and countries have found it difficult to fit Traditional Knowledge into traditional Intellectual Property Rights protection schemes. Some have adopted sui generis laws that apply specifically to Traditional Knowledge.

Certain communities depend on their traditional knowledge for survival and therefore needs to be protected. Communities are now looking up to intellectual property laws to preserve, protect, and promote their traditional knowledge. Certain communities have also sought to make equitable use of their traditional knowledge.

Traditional Knowledge is understood to encompass four types of creative works: verbal expressions like stories, legends, folk tales, poetry, riddles, musical expressions like folk songs and instrumental music, expressions by action like dances, plays, rituals and other performances, and tangible expressions that must be fixed on a permanent material like drawings, designs, paintings, carvings, sculptures, pottery, mosaics, jewelry, basket work, textiles, carpets, costumes, musical instruments.

Traditional Knowledge is used interchangeably with the term traditional cultural expressions; both refer to music, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, architectural forms, handicrafts and narratives. Traditional knowledge or Traditional cultural expressions are integral to the cultural and social identities of indigenous and local communities. Traditional knowledge or Traditional cultural expressions embody knowledge and skills, and they transmit core values and beliefs.

Currently, only a few nations offer explicit sui generis protection for traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge can be protected by preventing others from using or securing intellectual property rights over traditional knowledge. The World Intellectual Property Organization is actively working with different nations, organizations, and communities to address the policy and legal issues to protect traditional knowledge.

Intellectual Property Needs and Expectations of Traditional Knowledge Holders: Wipo Report on Fact-Finding Missions on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge (1998-1999) - by World Intellectual Property Organization.

Books On Traditional Knowledge

Intellectual Property, Biogenetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Graham Dutfield.

Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge (Paperback) by Sarah A. Laird (Editor).

Indigenous Heritage and Intellectual Property: Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore.

Community Resources: Intellectual Property, International Trade And Protection Of Traditional Knowledge (Globalization and Law) by Johanna Gibson.

Wipo Technical Study On Patent Disclosure Requirements Related To Genetic Resources And Traditional Knowledge - World Intellectual Property.

Rights to Plant Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge : Basic Issues and Perspectives by S. Biber-Klemm, T. Cottier.

Blakeney M., Bioprospecting and the Protection of Traditional Medical Knowledge of Indigenous People: an Australian Perspective, in E.I.P.R. 1997, 29(6), 298-303.

Blakeney M., The Protection of Traditional Knowledge under Intellectual Property Law, in E.I.P.R. 2000, 22(6), 251-261.

Drahos P., Indigenous Knowledge, Intellectual Property and Biopiracy: Is a Global Biocollecting Society the Answer, in E.I.P.R. 2000, 22(6), 245-250.

Dutfield G., Legal and Economic Aspects of Traditional Knowledge, in International Public Dutfield G., TRIPS-related Aspects of Traditional Knowledge, in 33 Case W. Res. J. Int’l L. 233, 2001.

Gopalakrishnan N.S., TRIPS and Protection of Traditional Knowledge of Genetic Resources: New Challenges to the Patent System, in E.I.P.R. 2005, 27(1), 11-18.