Traditional knowledge
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Traditional knowledge

The term Traditional Knowledge (TK) mostly refers to knowledge, innovations, skills, practices and know-how of indigenous, native and aboriginal communities. It is commonly developed and passed from generation to generation within the members of pertinent community. This knowledge forms the essential part of spiritual, social and cultural identity of these communities.

One of the main particularity of this type of intellectual property is that TK is mostly considered as collectively owned by the community from which it arised.

What is Traditional knowledge?

We can say that traditional knowledge is everything resulting from intellectual activity of traditional community – rituals, symbols, stories, beliefs, handicrafts, designs, clothing, art, medicinal and agricultural practices.

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Traditional knowledge examples

Here are a few examples of traditional knowledge:

New Zealand

Traditional medicinal practice in New Zealand is called Rongoā. It involves spriritual healing, herbal medicine and physical techniques. Rongoā is thus part of traditional knowledge of New Zealand. More information can be found here.

Republic of Korea

Traditional korean food recipes, medicinal procedures, bow making technology (Gungsijang) etc. Very comprehensive list of traditional knowledge of this country can be found here.

How to protect

Traditional knowledge

According to our knowledge, there are not many countries which have adopted special legislation that protects traditional knowledge as a special type of IP. The complete list can be found here. In other countries the community willing to protect their traditional knowledge have other options to use other types of IP protection like copyright, registered design, plant variety etc.

Actual situation is that the most traditional knowledge is not protected by these conventional types of IP and therefore the protection against unauthorized use might be an issue. Some countries also maintain the databases containing the traditional knowledge and genetic resources information. The list of all world databases can be found here. With these information the traditional knowledge communities can better act when defending their rights against unauthorized use of their traditional IP.


The short answer is no. Suddenly, traditional knowledge protection is not recognized by all the countries in the world.