Debates over traditional knowledge protection: The role of intellectual property laws
Monica Kayafa, Jin Zhao
This paper discusses a legal framework for the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) through a non-conventional intellectual property system. Some key points in this paper will be shown through a brief case study that highlights the consequences that followed from the ambiguity present in international instruments that are supposed to aid in traditional knowledge protection. Furthermore, this paper addresses the contentions springing forth from various groups that argue for or against the placement of TK in the sphere of “public domain”. This research highlights a number of caveats that ought to be considered should TK be viewed as a public good. This paper additionally puts forward that effective and well-balanced IP (Intellectual Property) tools are necessary so that IP laws do not undermine the rights and interests of TK holders. Finally, this paper determines that the methods best suited to bring a harmonious convergence for equal ground amid tensions for or against the application of IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) to traditional knowledge would be using a Sui Generis mechanism and mandatory disclosure provisions in Patent laws. These solutions will be of substantial benefit in preventing biological piracy, misappropriation of TK and the abuse of IPR’s.