Mr. Wend Wendland on Traditional Knowledge


we are here at the Ono Academic College Israel here in the International
Conference traditional knowledge and access to Knowledge and access to medicine and i’m happy to present Mr. Wend Wendland who is Head of
the division of traditional knowledge at World Intelectual Organization, (WIPO) Geneva. good evening, lets star with the first question, what is traditional knowledge? it reffers to the knowledge systems of indigenous people in
other local tribes and groups around the world. and as knowledge tends to be colactavly ownd, it
tends to be reflective of their identity, it’s evolving, and because of it’s age and
the fact that it’s collectivly ownd, it’s often not protected by the conventional intelectual provedance system can you give some examples of traditional knowledge? it is found in very many diverse fields and on the
one side of the spectrum one could talk about folklore or traditional cultural expresions, this are expresions of knowledge and culture
manifested in the form of music, dance, design architecture and symbols and then many examples in which indigenous
music or symbols or designs have been what we call misappropriated or used by third parties in
the wrong context from indigenous point of view. the other end of the spectrum is what we call technical knowledge, the knowledge
related and the know how related to by diversity healthcare, agriculture and so on and again their are
examples of where pharmaceutical companies ans other companies have explioted the knowledge have developped inventions drugs for example have
and patented them withou the indigenous people being aware ok, with the Menora the Israeli Jewish symbol or the David shield, would it
be considered as a traditional knowledge? what do you think? well depends on the definition of traditional knowledge ofcourse, but again if you
go back to the definition i gave earlier it’s part of identity, collectivly owned and evolving i would say that
some of these symbols theoretically yes could fall within the definition i think the question from intellectual property piont of view however is, are these symbols liebel to misappropriation in the intellectual property sence beacouse you only need an intellectual property type of protection
if these symbols are being copied and commercialized in the intellectual property sense it’s very clearl that these aspects of intangual caltural
heritage including symbols such as you mentioned ought to be preserved beacouse they are reflective of identity and one might
want to maintain the link between the religion and the symbol but whether they need intellectual property that’s a separate question can you elaborate what is WIPO doing in
order to protect this traditional knowledge problem? well WIPO is part of the UN system weare
a specialized agency in the UN system we have member states that are our clients that run WIPO they
set the program and budgets and the objective of WIPO and esentially what my devision does in the TK
field is, we do two things we facilitate an international negotiation that is taking place between the member states who have decided that they want to discuss the
development of an international leagal instrument that would provide an intellectual property like protection for traditional knowledge and when we facilitate the process we don’t have a view offcourse
as the member states who decide who have the views it is up to them to decide finally on the content of the instrument
but we prepare the documentation and we help the member states understand the diferent issues and options that lie befor them the second thing we do is we capacity builds, we
strengthen capacity in countries to establish effective national systems and we work with many goverments around the world and indigenous
people who are trying to understand the issues better including the use of existing IP system, because that
can also provide some protection for TK what are the main challenges in your work, what are
the difficulties that you are facing? there had been a number of procedural challenges, challenges to do with
participation in the process of course we want all the member states to be involved they all are involved but
indigenous peoples as the holders of TK systems need to be involved as well. so participation is one of the issues substantively there’s still not complete agreement on a number
of core questions, what is traditional knowledge so the what question, why should it be protected? what
is the rational and justification for protecting TK and what were the consiqueces intended and unintended be
of a new system of protection who should benefit from the protection? member states have very diferent
views about the roll of the state for example should indigenous peoples be the direct rights holders themselves or should the state
hold the right and manage them on their behalf and then finaly the question of what kind of kind
of protection would be appropriate should TK be given a copyright like or a patent
like right, like an exclusive right or shoud it be rather a system of compensation and acknowledgement which
is also of course possible in the IP system so these are the main questions, the why, the
what, the who and the how. now can you give an example of the how, like how can we
really protect some songs or some agriculture plans being use by firms and like for medicine or for commercial songs, loke how can it
be protected if it’s like well known and it’s public domain allready well public domain of course is a contraversial consept in this
area, becouse these expresions and knowledge systems are public domain from the perspective western IP system, but they
are not public domain from the perspective indigenous people because they have their own customary legal systems that create private domains and they
don’t believe in the public domain concept one of the problems is indeed that it’s public available knowledge,
it’s knowledge that has allready been published in text books and in data bases and on the internet the one approach in many approaches, but the one approach is to vest an
exclusive property right in TK that would mean that a pharmaceutical company or a fashion designer that wishes to use
some aspect of folklore or TK would need first the prier informed concent of the indigenous
people or group before it could use the knowledge systems or the folklore this is potencialy dificult in practice becouse as you said much
of the knowledge has been published allready and it might be dificult to identify from whom to
get the concent and it might actually stifle creativity another approach might be to not have an exclusive right so to
allow people to be inspired by other people Tk and folklore but to ensure that third party users or second comers
do two things three thing infact if the use someone elses TK they acknowledge the source so that’s a sign of
respect that one was inspired by the work of so and so people secondly they don’t distort the original TK or expresion of folklore thye don’t miss
use in a way that would be offensive to the indigenous people concerned and thirdly that if benefits are generated from a use of a TK
or folklore that the benefits are shared in some way and that kind of a system kind of a moral right plus benefit
sharing system which is found in some other non IP systems and is also rooted in the IP system might
strike the right kind of balance so the last question will be how did you
get to this field of traditional knowledge? well i’m a IP lawyer by background and i believe in the IP
system i believe that innovation is good for human wellfare i believe the one shpuld recognize and protect the innovation of human
beings so i believe in the rational of the IP system but i think it’s well known that the IP system it’s credibility
is in question these days the copywrite system the patent system is critisized fro verious angles and i think that the possebility of the
IP system broadening it’s understanding of what is intellectual property that is not simply creations that were envisaged at the time that the
IP system was develloped in western Europe in the 18 hundreds the late 19th century i think if one could
broaden the understanding of what IP is is good for the IP system it would be good for the credibility of
the IP system for it to recognize new beneficiaries including indigenous peoples that are creators allthough they create in
pehaps diferent ways to that as was envisaged by the founders of the IP system ok it was fascinating i’m sure you are the right person for the job so
i wish you good luck and we are looking forward to see what will be the consent by diferent countries thank you

1 Comment

  1. Deep Kingston

    June 22, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) provides mutual benefit to the knowledge holder with 2nd or 3rd party. India too immensely rich in TK (Traditional Knowledge) especially NE (North East) India. India needs strong IPR which provides maximum security and benefit to the TK holder. Most of them belongs to remote places and villages. Certain TK are protected from infringement through certain IPR like GI, Patent, Copyright, PPV&FR, etc. No laws no offense officially BUT lots of piracy and elite exploration in reality. WIPO and concern IPR expert please don't forget us.

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