Draft Traditional Knowledge Law To Protect Fiji's Indigneous Intellectual Property

iTaukei 'ministry ... currently undertaking a cultural mapping exercise'

By Luke Rawalai

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 15, 2016) – The proposed draft Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Law is expected to safeguard iTaukei intellectual property rights from illegal commercial exploitation.

In an interview, iTaukei Affairs Ministry permanent secretary Naipote Katonitabua said the law would protect intellectual properties such as the canoe being portrayed in the animation movie Moana.

Mr Katonitabua said the draft legislation would also deal with the patenting of intellectual properties.

"As we speak, the draft legislation is currently with the office of the Solicitor-General," he said.

"The law will safeguard the rights of property owners and their traditional knowledge from being used for commercial purposes, ensuring they get the recognition they deserve for what they own.

"Currently there are boats and vehicles, including buses operating in Fiji using indigenous names of animals and wood attributed to certain iTaukei villages and provinces."

Mr Katonitabua said the ministry was currently undertaking a cultural mapping exercise.

"The exercise has been completed in 12 provinces and we are left with the provinces of Nadroga/Navosa and Ba," he said.

"Our officers are still out there gathering data from villages, districts around the country and it is not an easy task.

"When the data has been gathered it will be fed into a database where the iTaukei people can get more information on their intellectual properties."

Mr Katonitabua said the exercise was an ongoing one, adding that the ministry would need to return to the villages and provinces for verification processes.

"This is a good move because it ensures we take stock and protect our invaluable information which we are losing at a worrying rate because of development, tourism and other factors," he said.

Fiji Times Online.
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