This article addresses issues at the interface of public international law and international intellectual property law, and argues that developing countries interests’ will be better protected by the proposed amendment of Article. 31 of the TRIPS Agreement and by the ongoing efforts to elaborate a legal instrument for the protection of traditional knowledge, both of which extend and deepen the special and preferential treatment of developing countries. The issue of protection of traditional knowledge has not only made inroads into treaties (via the proposal to amend TRIPS to include disclosure of origin and prior informed consent—Article. 29 bis), but it has also introduced alternatives to foundational intellectual property law principles relating to term of protection and exclusive rights. The ongoing work programme of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore committee shows potential for the formulation of an international instrument for the protection of traditional knowledge through recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.
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