Tuesday, 7 September 2010

New push for legislation - the San people

The Guardian carries an article entitled "South Africa's forgotten bushmen fight for recognition" mostly focusing on issues other than IP. However, the paragraph and link below caught Afro Leo's eye because it explains some of the pressure on the government to push through legislation designed to protect traditional knowledge:

There are further demands for "recognition of all our indigenous knowledge systems and the protection of all our intellectual property including medicinal remedies derived from plants such as hoodia" – an attempt to ensure the Khoisan benefit from commercial exploitation of their traditions.

The Hoodia plant and related IP issues over which the San people achieved an historic benefit sharing agreement are also discussed in this piece The Hoo-Ha about Hoodia by Frank Joffe. Alison Baker reported recently too on another example of biopiracy in RSA here. Meanwhile, attempts to encourage innovation in RSA saw the new publically funded IP rights legislation come into force last month. Dina Biagio provides a useful summary here.

Despite the significant criticism that has followed the legislative solutions designed to protect indigenous knowledge and foster innovation, changes and progress persist. With those changes come opportunities, fresh interest in IP and for the advisors, new streams of work. It is no surprise then that Kyle Jensen's (PIPRA) IP workshops next week on innovation are both sold out!

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