The Department of Science & Technology (DST) launched the National Recordal System (NRS) for indigenous knowledge (IK) on Friday 24 May. According to the DST's press release dated 27 May 2013 (available here) the NRS will include audio and video recordings of IK, which will be linked to
"· A semantic digital repository with custom-developed metadata schemata.
Currently, it is envisaged that the NRS will only include information on traditional medicines and foods. Coverage of other aspects of IKS will be added on in the future. IKS documentation centres are currently located at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Vuwani Science Centre in Limpopo, Tsengiwe in the Eastern Cape, Thaba Nchu in the Free State, and Tshwane in Gauteng. Centres will be set up in all nine provinces within the next two years.
This development raises interesting questions. For example -
1. Will the NRS be used by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission to verify or confirm disclosures made under s30(3A) of the Patents Act?
[Note: this section requires that "every applicant who lodges an application for a patent accompanied by a complete specification shall, before acceptance of the application, lodge with the registrar a statement in the prescribed manner stating whether or not the invention for which protection is claimed is based on or derived from an indigenous biological resource, genetic resource, or traditional knowledge or use".]
2. How , if at all, does the NRS fit into the IP protection of TK scheme provided for in the IP Laws Amendment Bill No.8 of 2010? In particular how will it interface with the proposed National Database of IP protected TK?
3. Will the NRS be shared with foreign patent offices to prevent misappropriation of South Africa's TK? India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), upon which the NRS appears to be loosely modelled, is shared with the EPO. This has reportedly resulted in the rejection of some patent applications (per WIPO Magazine ).
4. Will the NRS be accessible to the public?