Trips and Traditional Knowledge: Local Communities, Local Knowledge, and Global Intellectual Property Frameworks (Trips Symposium)
27 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2006 Last revised: 26 Feb 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2006
Intellectual property treatment of traditional or local knowledge is a major issue of contention today, particularly since the implementation of the TRIPs Agreement, which establishes minimum levels of intellectual property protection for members of the World Trade Organization. Discourse surrounding local knowledge is highly charged with accusations of "piracy" from Western countries countered with allegations of "biopiracy" from Third World countries. Flowing beneath the surface of this dialogue are multiple levels of historical experience. Intellectual property frameworks were formed in the nineteenth century during a period when evolutionary views of the development of human societies were paramount. Local knowledge was subject to devolutionary assumptions that meant that an inverse relationship was believed to exist between degree of civilization and amount of local knowledge such as folklore. As a result, local knowledge was generally not protected within national or multilateral intellectual property frameworks. This lack of protection has significant implications today in a world where such frameworks are being applied on an increasingly global basis.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, Folklore, Local Knowledge, Local Knowledge Innovation Zones, Value Assignment, Legal Framework, International Law, TRIPs, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Property Rights, Developing Countries, Third World Countries, Local Communities, Traditional Knowledge
JEL Classification: K11, K33, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation