National perspective of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights

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The importance of traditional knowledge of the indigenous communities and the inadequacy of existing law to protect the same is a worldwide concern. With this realized importance, emerges the need to protect this knowledge and to prevent its misappropriation. Protection of the traditional knowledge of the local and indigenous communities seems to be one of the most contentious and convoluted issues. The historical development of the protection of intellectual property in the wake of the industrial revolution and its subsequent jurisprudential justifications based on individual property rights pushed the traditional knowledge and innovative practices based on it outside the preview of the intellectual property rights protection regime. In the past few years, ample amount of discussion and debates on the subject of protecting traditional knowledge as intellectual property has been occurring at the world trade organization , conference of parties at the Convention on Biodiversity etc. a few national governments in these discussions have embraced the view that traditional knowledge needs to be secured legitimately, and they have condemned the IPR framework in its available structure for not just neglecting to give satisfactory protection to traditional knowledge additionally for legitimizing its misappropriation.

Although legal protection to the traditional knowledge has not been imbibed by Indian lawmakers initially, yet after TRIPS agreement and the Convention on Biodiversity grabbed their attention to a culturally rich, but ignored the area of TK. The current IPR system cannot protect traditional knowledge for three reasons: privatization of ownership; protection is time bound and restrictive interpretation of invention.

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