A Successful Recalibration of Patent Law vis-à-vis Mātauranga Māori? A Case Study of Mānuka (Leptospermum Scoparium)
In Susy Frankel (ed), The Object and Purpose of Intellectual Property (Edward Elgar, Forthcoming)
21 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 2018
Patents are theorised to serve a multitude of functions, ranging from incentivising invention and the dissemination of knowledge, to signalling certain capabilities and values, to structuring transactions and the commercialisation process. For all intents and purposes, these functions are misaligned with Indigenous peoples’ interests and worldviews. Indeed, beyond failing to serve Indigenous peoples, there is a growing body of literature proclaiming and decrying the appropriation and propertisation of Indigenous knowledge and resources, often referred to under the terms traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), traditional knowledge (TK) and related genetic resources (GRs). Yet, there is little empirical research measuring the scale of any such appropriation or propertisation. This article presents the results of an empirical search for patents pertaining to Mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) filed through the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). Furthermore, it reflects on the applications pertaining to Mānuka filed since the Patents Act 2013 came into force, and analyses whether the therein created Māori Advisory Committee has served its purpose with respect to those applications.
Keywords: Mātauranga Māori, traditional knowledge, Manuka patents, New Zealand, Māori Advisory Committee
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