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Protecting Traditional Knowledge – Does Secrecy Offer a Solution?

23 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2011  

Lee-ann Tong

University of Cape Town (UCT)

Date Written: December 10, 2010


The shortcomings of using the intellectual property system to safeguard the interests of traditional knowledge holders have received considerable attention. Laws that guard against the disclosure of secret traditional knowledge to non-community members may offer a low-cost and accessible way for traditional communities to prevent the misappropriation of their traditional knowledge. This paper reviews the concerns that may arise when holders of traditional knowledge attempt to rely on claiming unfair competition and contract laws to protect their traditional knowledge.

Keywords: Traditional knowledge, TRIPS Agreement, unfair competition, confidential information, secrecy

Suggested Citation

Tong, Lee-ann, Protecting Traditional Knowledge – Does Secrecy Offer a Solution? (December 10, 2010). Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Lee-ann Tong (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, 7701
South Africa

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