Traditional knowledge, biological resources and intellectual property rights in Asia: the example of the Philippines

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The relationship between traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights has become a topic for intensive debates at national level, in various international settings and within and among different UN agencies, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UNESCO, UNCTAD and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). However, a consensus on a definition of traditional knowledge has yet to emerge due to persistent differences in perception. On the one hand, indigenous communities hold locally specific and holistic views of traditional knowledge, which are difficult to place within the framework of current intellectual property rights. Governments of developing countries, on the other hand, mostly focus on clearly defined aspects of traditional knowledge and their interpretation in the national interest and as expressions of national culture. Asian governments, in particular, have advocated the latter view. The Philippines provide an exception due to a tradition of recognising indigenous peoples as separate “cultural communities”. However, the practical implementation of so-called “community intellectual rights” thus far is largely confined to access and benefit sharing rules, compensation requirements for traditional farmers and defensive protection measures such as digital libraries documenting traditional knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalForum of International Development Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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