Skip to main content
A Sui Generis Regime for Traditional Knoweldge: the Cultural Divide in Intellectual Property Law
Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review (2011)
  • Janewa Osei Tutu, Florida International University
Traditional knowledge can be protected, to some extent, under various intellectual property laws. However, for the most part, there is no effective international legal protection for this subject matter. This has led to proposals for a sui generis right for traditional knowledge. The precise contours of the right are yet to be determined, but a sui generis right could include perpetual protection. It could also result in protection for historical communal works and for knowledge that may be useful but that is not inventive according to the standards of intellectual property law. Developing countries have been more supportive of international protection for traditional knowledge than developed countries. At the same time, developing countries have been critical of the impact of intellectual property rights on various social issues such as access to medicines and educational materials. In light of developing country concerns about the negative effects of strong global intellectual property rights, this paper uses a development focused instrumentalist approach to assess the implications of a sui generis traditional knowledge right. It concludes that some of the measures sought may not achieve the desired outcome. Although intellectual property can play a role in protecting traditional knowledge, creating a sui generis intellectual property style right may hinder the equity-oriented goals of some traditional knowledge holders.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Janewa Osei Tutu. "A Sui Generis Regime for Traditional Knoweldge: the Cultural Divide in Intellectual Property Law" Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review Vol. 15 Iss. 1 (2011)
Available at: