Recent Seminar Revealed Differing Views on Protection for Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources

By Nathaniel DeLucia

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a seminar, where it invited member states to discuss their views on traditional knowledge and genetic resources.  Traditional knowledge, sometimes referred to as folklore, refers to the collective body of stories and knowledge held by indigenous/tribal groups which is rarely protected under modern patent or copyright regimes.  Genetic resources refer to genetic material that has actual or potential value, such as plant or animal material which has value as a medicine.  Similar to traditional knowledge, current patent regimes fail to provide protection to the locals who grow, and sometimes arguably own, the genetic resources.

The seminar was held in a series of round table discussions, which discussed the various member states differing views toward the public domain (information to which every member of the public should have free access) and how their differing views affected the scope of protection they felt was appropriate for traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

To see an in depth look at the discussions, check out the coverage at IP-Watch.