Yesterday I submitted a Private Members’ Bill, titled the Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill, to the Office of Speaker Max Sisulu. The Bill was drawn up as an alternative to the fatally flawed and internationally embarrassing Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill that President Jacob Zuma recently returned to Parliament because of some major procedural shortcomings.
This Bill will:
- Provide how intellectual property rights will be protected;
- Determine what is eligible for traditional knowledge intellectual property right protection;
- Provide ownership definitions for traditional knowledge intellectual property rights; and
- Provide for the duration, nature and scope of the traditional knowledge intellectual property rights.
The Bill will also provide for the establishment of a National Register of Traditional Knowledge as well as a National Council and National Trust and trust fund in respect of traditional knowledge.
As the DA argued when the issue of protecting innovations in traditional knowledge first came before Parliament, it will be best for South Africa to have a dedicated, or sui generis, piece of legislation. International best practice relating to the intellectual property rights for information technology and software development has set a precedent for this type of legislation.
Dedicated legislation is necessary because the legislative protection of indigenous knowledge is novel in nature and different in purpose and scope from other forms of existing intellectual property. It would therefore be inappropriate to try to integrate it into existing intellectual property laws, as the Department of Trade & Industry tried to do with its ill-advised Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill.
The Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill, in line with international precedent and the recommendations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, therefore constitutes the sui generis legislation that will provide robust protection to different categories of indigenous knowledge. It will serve our country much better than the flawed Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill.
As required by Rules 241(1) and 241(2) of the National Assembly, I have given notice that I intend introducing the Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill in the National Assembly shortly, and have submitted a full draft of the Bill and covering Memorandum to the Speaker to be publicized in the Government Gazette for public comment.