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Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge: Implications of customary laws and practices. Key findings and recommendations 2005-2009

Since January 2005, this action-research project has focused on developing alternative tools to protect traditional knowledge which are rooted in local customary laws rather than based on existing Intellectual Property standards. Existing IPRs (eg. patents, copyrights) are largely unsuitable for protecting rights over traditional knowledge because they provide commercial incentives, whereas traditional innovations are driven primarily by subsistence needs. Survival from nature requires continual access to new knowledge and innovations – ie. collective rather than exclusive rights. To sustain biodiversity-based lifestyles, communities need to maintain control over their knowledge and related bio-resources and prevent others from unfairly exploiting or appropriating them, while taking advantage of market opportunities themselves.

This report provides Key Findings and Recommendations from the project so far; and includes case studies summaries from Peru, Kenya, Panama, China and India.

Follow the links below for more about our work on Biocultural heritage.

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