Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights – Parliament of Canada


Traditional knowledge encompasses the beliefs, knowledge, practices, innovations, arts, spirituality, and other forms of cultural experience and expression that belong to indigenous communities worldwide. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948,(1) intellectual property has been considered a fundamental human right of all peoples.  Only recently, however, has the need to protect, preserve and provide for the fair use of indigenous intellectual property – traditional knowledge – entered the domestic and international debate on intellectual property rights. Of particular concern to indigenous peoples has been the unlicensed use by non-indigenous groups, such as corporations, of traditional knowledge that has been developed over centuries.