Protecting Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property in the Pacific: Issues and Challenges
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The Pacific region contains a vast reservoir of genetic material and traditional knowledge, and it is of the utmost importance that intellectual property rules in the Pacific Islands states support and facilitate the conservation and sustainable use of their unique biological resources. A significant challenge that needs to be addressed in order to promote the effective protection of intellectual property rights of genetic resources is the development of appropriate and adequate legal, institutional, and scientific support systems to deal with the complex issues that instantiate in intellectual property protection. The experience with kava and nonu has highlighted the inadequacy and inequities of existing laws in the region. This paper examines the issues that are associated with intellectual property protection, the preservation of traditional knowledge and effective access to genetic resources in the Pacific region. Specific reference is made to the situation in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu. The paper provides a brief outline of current systems of intellectual property protection in those countries, particularly those in relation to biodiversity and traditional knowledge. It then addresses the threats posed to indigenous culture and livelihood through biopiracy and explores regionally-based inter-governmental initiatives regarding traditional knowledge that are of common concern through out the region. Finally, it briefly canvasses the ways in which the law should be developed in the region in the future.
Asia Pacific Law Review
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Intellectual Property Law