Traditional knowledge can be protected, to some extent, under various intellectual property laws. However, for the most part, there is no effective international legal protection for this subject matter. This has led to proposals for a sui generis regime to protect traditional knowledge. The precise contours of the right are yet to be determined, but a sui generis right could include perpetual protection. It could also result in protection for historical communal works and for knowledge that may be useful but that is not inventive according to the standards of intellectual property law. Developing countries have been more supportive of an international traditional knowledge right than developed countries. At the same time, developing countries have been critical of the impact of intellectual property rights on social issues such as access to medicines and access to educational materials. In light of developing country concerns about the negative effects of strong global intellectual property rights, this paper uses a development-focused, instrumentalist approach to assess the implications of a sui generis traditional knowledge right. It concludes that some of the measures sought may not achieve the desired outcome. Although intellectual property can play a role in protecting traditional knowledge, a sui generis intellectual property style right may hinder the equity-oriented goals of some traditional knowledge communities.
J. Janewa OseiTutu,
Emerging Scholars Series: A Sui Generis Regime for Traditional Knowledge: The Cultural Divide in Intellectual Property Law,
15 Marq. Intellectual Property L. Rev. 147
Available at: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/iplr/vol15/iss1/3