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Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous People: Introduction


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This guide was intended to help researchers navigate their way through the world of intellectual property protections for indigenous people. Finding protection for indigenous people around the world has been difficult to do within the framework of intellectual property law. The difficulty comes from the relevant tools, such as copyright, patent, and trademark, that are currently available for the protection of these rights.

With this difficulty, however comes innovated thought, that is slowly leading to innovative solutions. This guide is an attempt to highlight that innovation in IP rights. This guide starts with resources in the Law Library that discuss this issue, followed by a broad overview of International IP laws, to include links to the relevant treaties. Then, the guide will link the researcher to the countries I've chosen to talk about. First, Africa, then the United States, and finally, Australia and New Zealand. Each part of the world is handling this problem differently, but I believe these parts of the world encompass most, if not all, the modern trends towards indigenous IP rights.

For African Nations, the solution seems to be implementing IP protections within the framework of existing international treaties and this guide will provide links to those organizations that have been created to push IP rights by using those treaties.  For the United States, protection comes in the form specialized statutes like NAGPRA, and for Australia/New Zealand, IP protections are slowly coming from changes to existing IP protections from within.

World Intellectual Property Organization's Involvement With Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples

Subject Guide

Contact Information

Andrew Knife Chief
Research Assistant

[email protected]

Jennifer Prilliman
Associate Director

[email protected]