The Mismatch of Geographical Indications and Innovative Traditional Knowledge

21 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2011 Last revised: 5 Apr 2015

See all articles by Susy Frankel

Susy Frankel

Victoria University of Wellington

Date Written: October 3, 2011


This article is about how geographical indications (GIs) cannot deliver the protection for traditional knowledge that indigenous peoples seek. There are three broad ways in which the protection of GIs appears to offer the possibility of providing legal mechanisms to protect traditional knowledge. These are the collective nature of the protection, the indefinite availability of GIs and the connection that GI owners associate between their products and their land. Those seeking protection of traditional knowledge also seek a collective and an indefinite interest and frequently the relationship between their knowledge and the land is important for indigenous peoples. Yet these similarities are superficial. GIs protect names and are used by western farmers and sometimes rural communities to promote their products. This article concludes that GIs cannot deliver the protection that indigenous peoples seek in order to benefit from their traditional knowledge.

Keywords: geographical indications, intellectual property, traditional knowledge, indigenous peoples, TRIPS Agreement

Suggested Citation

Frankel, Susy R., The Mismatch of Geographical Indications and Innovative Traditional Knowledge (October 3, 2011). Prometheus, Forthcoming, Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 35/2011, Available at SSRN:

Susy R. Frankel (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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