Defining Traditional Knowledge
Nations adopting the Nagoya Protocol also agreed to assess its implementation of traditional knowledge provisions in relation to the work of other bodies including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). At WIPO’s “Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore,” held February 28–March 4, the U.S. delegation resisted demands from some countries to enter into negotiations on changes to the global patent system relating to genetic resources and “traditional knowledge.”
According to CBD, genetic resources mean genetic material of actual or potential value. That differs from genetic material, which includes “any material of plant, animal, microbial, or other origin containing functional units of heredity.”
“Traditional knowledge” is defined by WIPO as “tradition-based literary, artistic, or scientific works; performances; inventions; scientific discoveries; designs; marks, names, and symbols; undisclosed information; and all other tradition-based innovations and creations resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary, or artistic fields.”
Related to that are “tradition-based” knowledge systems, creations, innovations, and cultural expressions, which according to WIPO “have generally been transmitted from generation to generation; are generally regarded as pertaining to a particular people or its territory; and are constantly evolving in response to a changing environment.”
“The crucial element for the protection of any subject matter is the identification of some characteristics that it must meet as a condition for protection, such as novelty, inventiveness, and susceptibility of industrial application, for inventions, and distinctiveness, for trademarks. The same criterion could be applied to traditional knowledge as well,” WIPO added in a 2002 “Information Note” on traditional knowledge.