Traditional knowledge protection in South Africa


André van der Merwe

In 2005, South Africa’s government adopted a policy of protecting various forms of traditional knowledge and permitting its commercial development.

Accordingly, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published the IP Laws Amendment Bill, 2007, which has provoked considerable comment from the IP legal community in South Africa.

Most jurists appear to support the principle that traditional knowledge needs to be properly protected. However, the devil is in the detail.

The protection of folklore has been the subject of extensive discussions within the WIPO and its committees. The WIPO had established the Inter-Governmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The objectives of this committee cover biopiracy, the appropriation of traditional knowledge by third parties, and the protection of such resources, traditional knowledge and folklore.

traditional knowledge, South Africa IP Laws Amendment Bill