Intellectual property rights (IPR)

Evelyn Mathias, October 2001

Traditional practices can be the starting point for the development of technologies, especially commercial drugs. The following activities can help ensure that the originators of the knowledge benefit from its wider adaptation and use:

bullet Lobby for policies and legalisation to address the protection of the local flora from overexploitation and the issue of intellectual property rights.
bullet Inform healers and other community members on IPR issues.
bullet Provide name of informant (or local innovator) for any piece of information (e.g., a local practice, a method) that is not common knowledge in community.
bullet Help local people to publish the information they provide under their name. This way it would be possible to pinpoint to specific individuals or groups as originators if a remedy turns out to be so valuable that patency issues arise.
bullet Compensate local people for their information through:
bullet Using the information to further village development.
bullet Making a donation to improve village infrastructure.
bullet Paying informants or village in cash or kind.
bullet Return the information on ethnoveterinary medicine so that local people can access and benefit from it through:
bullet Storing the information in simple files managed by villagers themselves.
bullet Writing reports in simple language and providing copies to the communities.
bullet Preparing slideshows or videos.
bulletDeveloping educational materials.
bullet Link with organisations that have experiences in intellectual property rights. Examples: ICIPE in Nairobi, RAFI in Canada, and the Honey Bee group in India. Furthermore, in some countries (e.g., Philippines) there are NGOs focussing specifically on legal issues relating to indigenous knowledge, local resources and property rights.

References:
Mathias 1994, IIRR 1996

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