Protecting Traditional Knowledge: The WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Protecting Traditional Knowledge

The WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, 1st Edition

Edited by Daniel F. Robinson, Ahmed Abdel-Latif, Pedro Roffe


366 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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This is the first comprehensive review of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) established in 2000. It provides an in-depth consideration of the key thematic areas within WIPO discussions – genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) through the perspectives of a broad range of experts and stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and local communities. It also looks at how these areas have been treated in a number of forums and settings (including national systems and experiences, and also in trade agreements) and the interface with WIPO discussions.

Furthermore, the book analyses the process and the negotiation dynamics since the IGC received a mandate from WIPO members, in 2009, to undertake formal text-based negotiations towards legal instruments for the protection of GR, TK and TCEs. While there has been some progress in these negotiations, important disagreements persist. If these are to be resolved, the adoption of these legal instruments would be a significant development towards resolving key gaps in the modern intellectual property system. In this regard, the book considers the future of the IGC and suggests options which could contribute towards achieving a consensual outcome.


"A new book with contributions from key thinkers on the subject details the long history and intensive negotiations of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, making a case for conclusion of binding international agreements in these areas as a way to close important gaps in intellectual property policy." - William New, Intellectual Property Watch (August 2017)

"The WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore is a highly recommended contribution for students, academics and policy-makers. The book effectively systematizes the background and evolution of nearly two decades of IGC’s work and provides a vision into the future. One of the main merits of the book is that it explains in simple terms complex legal, economic, institutional, diplomatic and ethical implications of the relationship between intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge." - Miguel Ángel Elizalde Carranza, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Table of Contents


Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz

Part 1: Introduction

1. Introduction: Mapping the Evolution, State-of-play and Future of the WIPO IGC

Daniel F. Robinson, Pedro Roffe, Ahmed Abdel-Latif

2. Revisiting the Creation of the IGC: The Limits of Constructive Ambiguity?

Ahmed Abdel-Latif

3. The Evolution of the IGC from 2001 to 2016: An Insider’s Perspective

Wend Wendland

4. Relationships between the Work of the IGC and Other Forums

Charles Lawson

Part 2: Substantive Issues

5. Of Disclosure "Straws" and IP System "Camels": Patents, Innovation, and the Disclosure of Origin Requirement

Margo A. Bagley

6. The Role of Databases, Contracts and Codes of Conduct

Daniel F. Robinson and Claudio Chiarolla

7. The Legal Protection of Widely Shared and Dispersed Traditional Knowledge

Manuel Ruiz Muller

8. Negotiating the Public Domain in an International Framework for Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions

Ruth L. Okediji

9. Traditional Cultural Expressions

Marc Perlman

10. Now You See It Now You Don’t: The Rise and Fall of Customary Law in the IGC

Brendan Tobin

Part 3: Stakeholder Perspectives

11. An Indigenous Perspective on the WIPO IGC

Maui Solomon

12. Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Disclosure Obligations: Some Observations from the Life Science Industry

Dominic Muyldermans

13. Indigenous Culture and Indigenous Publishing: Balancing Protection, Preservation and Promotion

Jens Bammel and José Borghino

14. Disclosure Requirements: Switzerland’s Perspective

Georges Bauer, Cyrill Michael Berger and Martin Girsberger

15. India’s Position in the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge

Biswajit Dhar

16. The WIPO IGC: A US Perspective

Dominic Keating

17. Access and Benefit Sharing, Intellectual Property Rights and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge in Costa Rica: Participation in and Possible Impacts of the IGC’s Work

Jorge Cabrera Medaglia

18. New Zealand, Mātauranga Māori and the IGC

Jessica C. Lai

Part 4: The Future of the IGC

19. Preferential Trade Agreements and the Protection of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

Pedro Roffe

20. WIPO and the Traditional Knowledge Conundrum

Ahmed Abdel-Latif

21. The Challenge of Cross-Border Protection of Traditional Knowledge

Susy Frankel

22. Should We Protect Turmeric Lattes?

Graham Dutfield

23. Ramifications of WIPO IGC for IP and Development

Chidi Oguamanam

About the Editors

Daniel F. Robinson is Research Fellow at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) Geneva, Switzerland and Associate Professor in Environmental Studies at The University of New South Wales, Australia.

Ahmed Abdel-Latif is Special Assistant for Policy and Programme in the Office of the Director General at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Pedro Roffe is Senior Associate in Innovation, Technology and Intellectual Property at ICTSD, Geneva, Switzerland.

About the Series

Routledge Research in International Environmental Law

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Environmental
SCIENCE / Environmental Science