Making Space for Grandma: The Emancipation of Traditional Knowledge and the Dominance of Western-Style Intellectual Property Rights Regimes
18 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2010
Date Written: October 6, 2010
The question that this paper seeks to tackle is whether the patent system is of any relevance or pertinence to the search for mechanisms for the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) of the medicinal uses of biodiversity possessed by traditional knowledge practitioners across different parts of the world. Allegations of biopiracy have been made against researchers, bioprospectors and other entities actively scouring indigenous peoples’ cornucopia for the next miracle drug. The objective of this paper will be achieved through two main approaches. The first analyzes the historical and philosophical roots of the divide between dominant regimes of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and Traditional Knowledge (TK). As already noted, the patent system is used as the framework for the analysis. The second suggests ways and methodologies by which the divide may be bridged. The analysis concedes that the gaps are quite profound but nonetheless offer policy-makers some leeway and flexibility to protect TK by borrowing some of the features of dominant IPRs regimes. The approach is anchored on a pragmatic acceptance of the fact that dominant regimes are too well-established to be displaced by well-meaning but weak protagonists for purer versions of TK-models.
Keywords: Traditional Knowledge, Intellectual Property, Policy, IPRs Regimes
JEL Classification: K33, O34, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation