Dr. Wilmot James, Member of Parliament
Photo courtesy of Democratic Alliance
A Protection of Traditional Knowledge bill based on the bill drafted by the incumbent of the StellenboschChair of IP Law, Professor Owen Dean, was published in the official government gazette and was tabled in Parliament by Dr. Wilmot James earlier this year. This bill, referred to as “Wilmot’s Bill” serves as an alternative to the widely criticized Government bill. President Zuma refused to sign Government bill citing constitutional concerns and ordered it returned to Parliament for consideration by the House of Traditional Leaders. The Portfolio committee, despite the President’s objections, recommended that the Government bill be passed into law. In addition to creating dedicated legislation to the protection on traditional knowledge, Wilmot’s bill would also provide for the establishment of a National Register of Traditional Knowledge as well as a National Council and National Trust and trust fund in respect of traditional knowledge.
In a synopsis accompanying the bill, Professor Dean explained that this bill is meant to provide adequate, financially viable, legally enforceable protection for traditional knowledge that will
- Provide sui generis (of its own kind/unique) protection for traditional knowledge,
- Comply with South Africa’s international obligations,
- Give effect to the principles for the protection of indigenous knowledge advocated by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
- Safeguard our existent IP statutes from irreparable harm
- Establish a more sophisticated system for the protection of traditional knowledge in South Africa that far exceeds the level of protection anywhere else in the world.
- Provide how intellectual property rights will be protected;
- Determine what is eligible for traditional knowledge intellectual property right protection;
- Provide ownership definitions for traditional knowledge intellectual property rights; a
- Provide for the duration, nature and scope of the traditional knowledge intellectual property rights