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Traditional Knowledge and the International Context for Protection

25 Pages Posted: 27 May 2008  

Johanna Gibson

Queen Mary University of London - School of Law


This paper traces the relationship between traditional knowledge and biodiversity and examines the current discussions towards achieving such protection through the international intellectual property system. This paper will concentrate on the particular cultural and legal problems associated with the protection of indigenous intellectual property, specifically in terms of medicinal and agricultural knowledge and the impact of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The apparently conflicting relationship between these two international instruments will be addressed. In reviewing attempts to acknowledge the role of indigenous and traditional communities in the management and sustainable development of biological resources, this paper argues for authority and capacity with respect to resources to vest in the community. This is maintained in recognition of the significance of this relationship of community to its resources, to the facilitation of community development through appropriate assurance of traditional resource relationships, within an international legal system of obligations towards biological and cultural diversity.

Keywords: Information Technology Law, Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge

JEL Classification: k00

Suggested Citation

Gibson, Johanna, Traditional Knowledge and the International Context for Protection. SCRIPT-ed, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 2004. Available at SSRN:

Johanna Gibson (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London - School of Law ( email )

67-69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom


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