Effective intellectual property protection of traditional knowledge of plants and their uses: an example from Australia
|Title||Effective intellectual property protection of traditional knowledge of plants and their uses: an example from Australia|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2009|
|Authors||Evans L., Scott H., Muir K., & Briscoe J.|
|Keywords||bush medicine, intellectual property management, plants, traditional Aboriginal knowledge|
Intellectual property rights (IPR) to traditional knowledge (TK) about Australian native plants could justifiably be described as a birthright of Australian Aboriginal people. However, as is generally the case throughout the world, this right is currently not protected under Australian law. A case study is presented describing the approach that was taken to protecting the plant knowledge rights of traditional knowledge (TK) holders who participated in research at Titjikala, central Australia. From a review of international efforts aimed at developing a legal regime for protection of traditional knowledge (TK) intellectual property rights (IPR), we found that protecting traditional knowledge (TK) of plants and their uses is most likely to be achieved through the development of effective protocols for preserving and recording traditional knowledge (TK) and the use of contract law in commercial applications of that knowledge. The process of negotiating a research agreement between the research organisations and the community is described. Relationship building and a partnership approach based on trust and mutual respect were found to be of fundamental importance. The negotiated agreement ensures that the community has an equal share to research partners in any benefits that might arise from commercialisation of research findings. The approach to benefit sharing developed in this project has application in other research projects in which the sharing of traditional knowledge (TK) is a fundamental and essential component of the research process.