ARIPO Swakopmund Protocol on Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore Enters into Force in May 2015

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As many readers may recall, the Member States of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) adopted the Swakopmund Protocol on the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore on August 9, 2010 at Swakopmund in the Republic of Namibia. Section 27 of the Protocol provides that it shall come into force three (3) months after six (6) states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Since the adoption of the Protocol, the following five (5) states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession: Botswana, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Rwanda and Malawi. The sixth and final ratification was deposited (fittingly one might add) by Namibia on February 11, 2015. Therefore, the Swakopmund Protocol shall enter into force on May 11, 2015.

According to ARIPO, The entry into force of the Swakopmund Protocol will have the following effect:

– It will enable the knowledge holders and local communities in the Member States to register trans-boundary traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore at ARIPO;

– The knowledge holders and local communities Member States will also be able to submit for record purposes traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore in their territories. This can be done through the national competent authority;

– The knowledge holders and local communities Member States will be able to license their traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore lodged at ARIPO and obtain benefits arising from the commercial use of such knowledge and folklore and obtain fees from such licenses;

– The knowledge holders and local communities in the Member States will be able to use the alternative dispute settlement procedures at ARIPO to settle disputes arising from traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore shared by different communities across national boundaries as the need arise;

– It will enable ARIPO to establish databases on codified and non-codified traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore. The information in the databases will only be used upon prior informed consent from the knowledge holders. The consultation of the databases will also generate income for the member states.

A copy of the ARIPO Swakopmund Protocol is available here.

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