Protection of Tribal/Indigenous Knowledge

Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge
WIPO; Geneva, Switzerland
(no date)
Key words: property rights, laws, traditional knowledge, definitions, protection, medicine
The pamphlet gives many examples of traditional knowledge and explains how “tradition” is defined as not ancient, but connected to a particular group and passed on through the community. Medical knowledge of plants is sometimes appropriated by pharmaceutical companies and this organization seeks to protect indigenous people’s rights to this, and other types of knowledge.

Navigating Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property - The Story of the Yakuanoi
March 19, 2018
Using real situations, WIPO developed a fictious tribe and situation to relay how an Indigenous community can attempt to rectify misappropriation of traditional knowledge.

Protecting traditional knowledge: a grassroots perspective
By: Catherine Jewell
Communications Division, WIPO Magazine
February 2017
In an interview with WIPO Magazine, Lucy Mulenkei, a member of the Maasai people of Kenya and an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, explains why achieving international agreement to protect traditional knowledge is important to the communities.

Traditional knowledge: the challenges facing international lawmakers
By: Dr. Marisella Ouma
WIPO Magazine
February 2017
In this article, Dr. Marisella Ouma describes some of the national and regional laws that exist in countries like Costa Rica, Kenya, Peru and Zambia to protect traditional knowledge. While representing an important step towards greater protection from misappropriation and misuse of traditional knowledge, regional and national laws provide only fragmented protections. Here, Dr. Ouma argues for protections of traditional knowledge at the international level.

Protect and Promote Your Culture: A Practical Guide to Intellectual Property for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
This guide includes examples and explains how communities can protect their intellectual property while using it on a broader scale.

Documenting Traditional Knowledge - A Toolkit
By: Begona Venero Aguirre, et al.
World Intellectual Property Organization
Key words: Traditional knowledge, intellectual property, biodiversity, food and agriculture, health, environment
This toolkit aims to help readers devise a plan for protecting the intellectual property of TK while it is being documented.

Traditional Ecological Disclosure: How the Freedom of Information Act Frustrates Tribal Natural Resource Consultation with Federal Agencies
By: Sophia E. Amberson
Washington Law Review, 92:937-981
Key words: Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Freedom of Information Act, Tribal Resource Consultation
When a federal or state agency administers environmental laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the agency often consults with tribes. During these consultations, tribes often disseminate traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)—knowledge acquired by a tribe that is a mix of environmental ethics and scientific knowledge about tribal use. However, these consultations may be susceptible to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).This Comment explores the dichotomy between the purposes of FOIA and the protection of tribal culture and knowledge.

University IP policies: perception and practice
by Ruth Soetendorp, Mandy Haberman & Steve Smith
Intellectual Property Awareness Network Education Group, United Kingdom
December 2016
“Students are destined to be key workers in the knowledge economy. They will be dealing with intellectual property (IP) during their studies and future careers. So how well do they understand it? Recent research from the United Kingdom suggests there is much room for improvement.”

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Rev. 2, September 23, 2016
World Intellectual Property Organization
In this revised draft, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) addresses and works to further its efforts to provide guidance and policy to protect traditional knowledge. Among the aims of this WIPO document are to assist traditional knowledge-holders in preventing the misappropriation of their knowledge and control the ways in which it is used.

Controversy erupts over Peter Nabokov's publication of 'The Origin Myth of Acoma Pueblo'
by Khristaan D. Villela
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Background brief No. 9: Documentation of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions
World Intellectual Property Organization

Advancing the Lore: A Proposed Legal Framework for Filipino Traditional Knowledge Protection and Commercialization
Gonzalo D. V. Go III & Paolo Miguel S. Consignado
Ateneo Law Journal, 60:4:992-1031

Key words: Indigenous People’s Rights, Property Rights, Property Laws, Traditional Knowledge

This article talks about traditional knowledge in the Filipino culture, the clash of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. The authors then move into ways traditional knowledge can be protected and proposes legal frameworks that can be used to protect individuals and traditional knowledge.

Background brief No. 7: Customary Law and Traditional Knowledge
World Intellectual Property Organization

Background brief No. 1: Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property
World Intellectual Property Organization

Appropriation (?) of the Month: An Ethnopharmaceutical Adventure
Posted by Kristen Dobbin
March 24, 2015 - 15:56

Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights
By: Jane E. Anderson
International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2:11
Key Words: Intellectual Property, rights, protection, colonialism, colonial legacy, appropriation, legal frameworks, indigenous people, patents
This article explores the question of using Western notions of property and ownership to indigenous knowledge systems and how to protect traditional knowledge through intellectual property law. Western science appropriates indigenous knowledge of plants, animals, and medicines and access to patents for biodiversity is controversial as well as difficult to achieve.

Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions
World Intellectual Property Organization

Guarding Against Exploitation: Protecting Indigenous Knowledge in the Age of Climate Change
By: Joseph Brewer and Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner
Key words: Traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge, climate change, intellectual property
Two University of Kansas professors, each citizens of Native American tribes, share examples of how tribes are using traditional knowledge to address the effects of climate change, discusses existing United States and international intellectual property law, and suggests tribes might be better served by using their own law-making abilities to protect TEK.

New video explores questions at the heart of IPinCH
Published: Jun 20 2014

Developing Policies and Protocols for the Culturally Sensitive Intellectual Properties of the Penobscot Nation of Maine
by Bonnie Newsom, with contributions from the Penobscot Nation Intellectual Property Working Group and Julie Woods. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
April 2014
This publication details how, “Indigenous communities face legal, social, cultural, and economic challenges when attempting to protect or manage their intellectual property (IP). One such challenge is the lack of a community-based infrastructure that formalizes processes for confronting IP issues. This deficiency is particularly apparent in the field of archaeology, where IP and cultural heritage issues are being contested on a number of domestic and international fronts. To mitigate this challenge, the Penobscot Nation in Maine, with support from partners at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), engaged in a community-based initiative to develop tribal protocols, tools, and an internal infrastructure to address IP issues related to archaeology and heritage-based places.”

Protecting Traditional Environmental Knowledge and New Social Movements in the Americas: Intellectual Property, Human Right, or Claims to an Alternative Form of Sustainable Development?
By: Rosemary J. Coombe
Florida Journal of International Law, 17:115-135
The protection of traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) is a complex area of emerging law that has attracted a great deal of academic attention and controversy over the past five years.

Writing, Speaking and Performance: The Dialectic in the Law
by David Stephenson
Published on Nov 15, 2013

Justice forward: Tribes, climate adaptation and responsibility
By: Kyle Powys Whyte
Climatic Change
Key words: government-to-government, trust responsibility, multiparty governance, climate change, legislators
In this paper, an alternative model is proposed regarding the obligations toward working with indigenous people on climate change. When policies like the inclusion of multiple knowledge sources in climate research are viewed as systems of responsibility, the focus becomes what legislators can do, rather than the ways in which they are limited.

Justifying Intellectual Property in Traditional Knowledge
By: Djims Milius
Intellectual Property Quarterly
Key words: Traditional knowledge promotion, protection, Africa, Caribbean, China, India, indigenous peoples, patents, protect culture, policy, international trade, WTO, governments, communal ownership
The journal article reviews case studies from around the world to explore how traditional knowledge such as fishing and hunting methods, usage of plants and animals for medicinal needs, food processing and cooking techniques, and agricultural skills can be documented, preserved, and protected.

Traditional Knowledge & Indigenous Peoples
By: Ulia Popova-Gosart (ed. and translator)
Key words: Intellectual property, laws, protection of knowledge, climate change, Indonesia, Caribbean, Australia, Saami community
In the linked collection of papers, eight authors explore how traditional knowledge can be preserved through access to rights of intellectual property.

Traditional Cultural Expressions/Expressions of Folklore and Traditional Knowledge
Comments of the United States of America
Washington. DC
March 30. 2007

Traditional Knowledge & Intellectual Property: A Handbook On Issues & Options For Traditional Knowledge Holders in Protecting Their Intellectual Property & Maintaining Biological Diversity
Hansen, S & J Van Fleet
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Program

Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage: A Global Challenge
By: Marie Battiste and James (Sákéj) Youngblood Henderson
Purich Press
Whether the approximately 500 million Indigenous Peoples in the world live in Canada, the United States, Australia, India, Peru, or Russia, they have faced a similar fate at the hands of colonizing powers. That has included assaults on their language and culture, commercialization of their art, and use of their plant knowledge in the development of medicine, all without consent, acknowledgement, or benefit to them. This book looks at the issues from an international perspective and explores developments in various countries including Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and also at the work of the United Nations and relevant international agreements.

Methodology for the Development of National Intellectual Property Strategies - Toolkit
This handbook from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides a guide and methodology for the development of national intellectual property strategies.

Last updated: October 4, 2018