Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The following press release was issued by PACNEWS, the Pacific News Agency Service, on the 24th September, 2003

Legislation to protect indigenous intellectual property rights

24 SEPTEMBER 2003 SUVA (Pacnews) --- Fiji's Cabinet has approved the drafting of an appropriate legislation for the recognition and registration of indigenous intellectual property rights.

Traditional knowledge and expressions of culture will now be protected through this legislation.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said government is concerned with the increasing exploitation of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture for commercial purposes.

"Folklore has been commercialised without due respect or acknowledgement to the cultural and economic interests of the communities from which they originate," he said. "In order to adapt them to the needs of the market, they are often distorted or mutilated.

"More often than not, no share of the returns from its exploitation is returned to the communities, which have developed and maintained them for generations," Mr Qarase said.

The Prime Minister said traditional knowledge and expressions of culture need to be recognised and legally protected not only to ensure their survival but to ensure that the owners' derive maximum benefit from their exploitation for commercial gains.

He said government recognises that the current Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system is inadequate in protecting traditional knowledge. In this regard, appropriate legislation will be drafted based on the Model Law formulated by the member states of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Model Law provides rights to traditional owners of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture; allows traditional owners to be compensated for use of their traditional knowledge and expressions of culture for commercial purposes by others; allows for the establishment of national institutions to create and maintain up-to-date database on owners, and also permits the establishment of a national dispute resolution system....PNS (ENDS)