Key officials meet to discuss traditional knowledge and intellectual property

Geneva, January 19, 2002
Media Alerts MA/2002/09

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the government of the Sultanate of Oman are bringing together ministers responsible for culture and/or intellectual property matters and other key officials from around the world at an international forum to discuss the theme "Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge: Our Identity, Our Future". Held under patronage of His Highness Sayyid Faisal Bin Ali Al Said, the two-day Forum will be opened by WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris and His Excellency Mr. Maqbool Bin Ali Bin Sultan, Oman's Minister for Commerce and Industry, on January 21, 2002. The Forum will also be addressed by a number of other dignitaries including HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Mr. Fidel Ramos, former President of the Philippines and Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, former President of Colombia.

The objective of the International Forum is to provide policy makers and senior government officials with the opportunity to exchange views and share experiences on the social, cultural and economic dimensions of the protection of traditional knowledge. Speakers will address issues relating to national efforts in preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge; the relevance of applying the intellectual property system for the protection of traditional knowledge; and the exploitation of the intellectual property system as a means for the generation of valuable traditional knowledge assets. They will also examine how indigenous and local communities can best use the intellectual property system for wealth creation.

Traditional knowledge, including folklore, is a rich and diverse source of creativity and innovation. It often transmits the history, cultural identity and patrimony, beliefs, ethics, and traditions and heritage of a particular people. The continuous adaptation, creation and dissemination of traditional knowledge could result in commercial benefits for local communities and thus represent an important economic asset for their future. Moreover, the role of intellectual property rights in the conservation, management, sustainable utilization, commercialization and dissemination of traditional knowledge has been accentuated by the globalization of markets, rapid advances in new technology and the growing value of intellectual commodities as cultural assets in a knowledge-based economy.

Further information on the Forum, including the full program, list of speakers and list of documents are available on this web site.