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South African Parliamentary Committee Discusses Traditional Knowledge

On September 7-8, Kabir Bavikatte and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) participated in a two-day workshop for the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Trade and Industry on the proposed Intellectual Property Law Amendment Bill. The meeting was jointly organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Intellectual Property Law and Policy Unit of the University of Cape Town (UCT IP Unit).

The Portfolio Committee is currently in the process of reviewing a Bill that aims to amend a range of existing intellectual property rights mechanisms in South Africa, including the South African Copyright Act (1978), Performers Protection Act (1967), Trade Mark Act (1993), and Design Act (1993), in order include certain forms of traditional knowledge protection under the premises of the respective Acts. The resource people that participated in the workshop, Ahmed Abdel Latif (ICTSD), Professor Graham Dutfield (Leeds University), Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice), and Johanna von Braun (UCT IP Unit/Natural Justice), provided the Committee Members with background on the international and national discussions and frameworks on the protection of traditional knowledge to support the Committee in their reflection on the Bill. The key questions that were at the heart of the debate were to what extent intellectual property laws are suitable for the protection of traditional knowledge or whether a sui generis system for the nature of traditional knowledge (or a combination of the two) would be more suitable for ensuring appropriate protection of traditional knowledge in South Africa.

9 September 2010

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