PositionPaper for the World Intellectual Property OrganizationThe subjectsenclosed in the World Intellectual Property Organization are ‘Defining andMeasuring Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property’ and’Protecting Indigenous People’s Intellectual Property in DocumentingTraditional Medical Knowledge’. WIPO is one of the oldest bureaus in the UnitedNations, it existed in 1833 in the Paris Convention, and it joined the UN in1974. The World Intellectual Property Organization is held accountable for securingand preserving genuine innovations such as arts, literary pieces, and medicinaldrugs, it also prevents and avoids fraudulent ones.
New Zealand has been anassociate of WIPO for over 33 years and it has taken actions to sustain and protectintellectual property rights.I. Definingand Measuring Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property.Intellectualproperty is often known as an invention or creation that is legally protectedby patents, trademarks or copyrights. Intellectual property has existed longago, although, there has been limited knowledge about it; until recently, withthe development of technology and globalization, the ideology of intellectualproperty started expanding worldwide, especially in first world countries, whereasthe third world countries and some developing countries have either limitedknowledge or no access to intellectual property at all due to low educationlevels and minimal use of technology.
NewZealand, being considered as a first world country, holds responsibility forproviding its people with sufficient knowledge about intellectual property. Thatis why in 2010, New Zealand was the first country in the world to include “IPteaching —lessons taught to educate students about intellectual property—” inits national curriculum. New Zealand’s long history with intellectual propertymade it gain the 33rd rank in the amount of patents signed by itsresidents, according to WIPO statistics that was released in 2016. New Zealandhas taken advantage of the developing world to improve its Intellectual PropertyOffices and Intellectual Property website which provide official certificationof patents, trademarks or designs, as well as tips and guidelines about intellectualproperty for all interested parties, not just New Zealanders.NewZealand’s national library published an article discussing their views about lookingforward to implement “knowledge resources” regarding various national informationsuch as the country’s history, culture, tradition and ethnicities, throughlibraries, institutions and on websites to all New Zealanders by the year 2030.
This will make knowledge more accessible to New Zealanders; thus, the knowledgeof intellectual property will increase and become more approachable.Thelack of knowledge in intellectual property could lead to numerousmisunderstandings and negative consequences such as criminal penalties in somecountries for “trademark infringement” to those who are naïve about it. Withthe trade world expanding day by day, it is necessary to educate people aboutthe importance of intellectual property. It is an issue that has to berecognized.
II. ProtectingIndigenous People’s Intellectual Property in Documenting Traditional MedicalKnowledge.Traditionalmedicine also known as ancient medicine, involves the use of traditionaltechniques or herbal supplements as a way of healing. It was used by theprimitives in different communities and in various ways before the developmentof modern medicine. Since it is ancient, the practice of using traditionalmedicine as a common cure started to get rare, this risks the future of traditionalmedicine which has shown it is a good, simple and affordable way to get cured;it may not only cause the use of traditional medicine to extinct, but theknowledge about it too.
Although, traditional medicine could be found in themain ingredients of modern drugs, yet it is not credited or acknowledged.NewZealand is known for having different ethnicities, and one of these ethnicitiesis M?ori —the indigenous or native people of New Zealand—. New Zealand hasalways and still is protecting the M?ori culture and knowledge. It haspreviously recognized the issue of protecting its indigenous people’s rightsand intellectual property. The conflict seems to be a bit complex, yet there arelaws and patents that were changed and added regarding the M?ori intellectualproperty. In 2002, a M?ori Advisory Committee was founded; its target was toinvestigate if a trademark is considered inappropriate or offensive to the M?oriculture.
In the present years, M?ori intellectual propertiesbecame more important and cared for. In 2013, another M?oriadvisory committee was created for patents. It was made to protect their indigenousknowledge and to review previous patents that may have roots from M?ori culture.
Again, New Zealand’s national library looks forward to inspire the creation anduse of M?ori knowledge in hopes of saving the M?ori language.Sincepreserving rights to a specific traditional medicine is not very complicated, NewZealand has taken actions to ensure the rights of M?oris with theirinnovations. One of the M?ori cultural aspects that are protected byintellectual property is “Indigenous plants or birds”; most of M?ori traditionalmedicines contain their unique herbals which are now protected by New Zealand’sintellectual property.
Theinadequacy of references to M?ori traditional knowledge may lead to itsextinction. Increasing awareness about the importance of indigenous people’sintellectual property and the consequences of its extinction is necessary. Itis a controversy that has to be endorsed.