Sui generis regimes for the IP protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions

sui generis regimes


The World intellectual property organization has collected, compiled and made available online information on a number of national and regional sui generis regimes for the intellectual property protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

The term sui generis regimes has been defined as existing legal mechanisms which provide indigenous peoples and local communities and other beneficiaries with intellectual property or IP-similar protection. This kind of protection is against misuse and/or misappropriation of their traditional knowledge (TK) and/or traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), and/or distorting or culturally offensive uses.

Such mechanisms can be part of IP systems, the features of which have been modified to accommodate the special characteristics of TK and TCEs, or to create specific disclosure obligations related to TK, and non-IP systems .

Traditional Knowledge

Traditional knowledge (TK) is knowledge, know-how, skills and practices that are developed, sustained and passed on from generation to generation within a community, often forming part of its cultural or spiritual identity.

Traditional Cultural Expressions

Traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), also called “expressions of folklore”, may include music, dance, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, ceremonies, architectural forms, handicrafts and narratives, or many other artistic or cultural expressions.

The compilation is yet preliminary and non-exhaustive. The Traditional Knowledge Division of WIPO is open for comments, corrections or updates. Member States and accredited observers can send information in English to tni.opiwnull@fktrg.

    • October 2020
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