Plant Variety Protection and Traditional Agricultural Knowledge in Southeast Asia

23 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2012  

Rajeswari Kanniah

Deakin Law School

Christoph Antons

University of Newcastle (Australia) - Newcastle Law School

Date Written: October 10, 2012


This article provides an overview of the emerging plant variety protection (PVP) systems in Southeast Asia. The case studies are from countries that form part of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), mainly Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. The focus will be on the intersection between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and popular demands for the protection of the traditional knowledge (TK) of local communities. Factors that fuelled the emergence and shaped the content of the PVP laws were the obligation to comply with art 27(3)(b) of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), aspirations for the development of the biotechnology industry, avoidance of possible sanction under the US ‘Special 301’ procedure, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the role played by the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV), technical assistance from UPOV member countries, membership of international biodiversity treaties and demands from civil society organisations for protection of TK. The PVP laws that resulted present an uneasy amalgam of conventional property rights with some aspects of protection of TK. It is very likely that the local communities claiming TK rights will face legal hurdles, in as much as government agencies implementing the law will face administrative and technical complications.

Keywords: plant variety protection, traditional agricultural knowledge, Southeast Asia

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Kanniah, Rajeswari and Antons, Christoph, Plant Variety Protection and Traditional Agricultural Knowledge in Southeast Asia (October 10, 2012). Australian Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Rajeswari Kanniah

Deakin Law School ( email )

Burwood, Victoria 3215

Christoph Antons (Contact Author)

University of Newcastle (Australia) - Newcastle Law School ( email )

Newcastle Law School
New South Wales 2308
61 2 4985 4114 (Phone)

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