Patents as Protection of Traditional Medical Knowledge?

A Law and Economics Analysis

By Petra Ebermann

The protection of traditional knowledge and the practices of local and indigenous groups have been discussed in various forums in recent times. International agreements - such as the Convention on Biological Diversity - address the importance of protecting traditional knowledge and practices, recognizing that this knowledge bears immense value in terms of its contribution to the conservation of biological diversity and its inputs to research and development in various fields. Experiences of the past - for example, the use of the Neem tree and the Turmeric plant - show that the benefits of traditional knowledge applications are allocated mainly to the follow-on developers and rarely to the original suppliers of the knowledge and practices. In the long term, this may result in restricted access to traditional knowledge to the detriment of social welfare. This book examines traditional knowledge protection in the area of traditional medical knowledge, which is often utilized in contemporary medicine and, consequently, is subject to patent protection. The book provides a comparative view of the current patent regimes in major economies - specifically the US and the EU - and the consequences of the application of these laws to traditional medical knowledge and follow-on innovation, as well as the impact on underlying economic principles and opposing interests. The economic analysis of law is used to evaluate the current situation by comparing the effects of adapted patent regimes to alternative liability regimes or contractual agreements. This comparative and interdisciplinary approach gives valuable insights and inputs for future discussion. (Series: European Studies in Law and Economics - Vol. 10)

212 pages

Publication Date: 7/20/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781780680736