South Africa to Debate Traditional Knowledge Bill

May 12, 2010

Next week, the South African Parliament will debate the Intellectual Property Laws Amendments Bill, which was originally introduced in 2008.  The bill aims to increase protection of traditional knowledge by amending the Performers’ Protection Act, the Copyrights Act, the Trade Marks Act, and the Designs Act. The Ministry of Trade and Industry says that the legislation will ensure “that the law of trade marks/geographical indications may be able to provide protection of certain names/features associated with traditional knowledge e.g. Rooibos and Honey bush tea; that a National Council consisting of experts on traditional knowledge must advise the Minister and the Registrar of intellectual property on traditional intellectual property (TIP) rights; that communities may form business enterprises such as collecting societies in order to administer their traditional intellectual property, as well as commercializing such TIP; that such business enterprises may enter into licensing agreements (commercialization of TIP) with third parties; [and] that other rights in the copyright regime should preferably also be subjected to “collective management of copyright regime’.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has published a policy paper to explain the need for greater protection of traditional knowledge and the types of tools that can be used: The Protection of Indigenous Knowledge through the Intellectual Property System.



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