The present collection of articles is devoted to The Legal Protection of Cultural Expressions and Indigenous Knowledge. This was the theme of the conference organized by the Institute’s Center for Intellectual Property Law (CIER) in November 2001. Most of the papers which were contributed to that conference are presented in this issue.
This book clarifies why the law comes into play with regard to the indicated theme. Indeed, it is a commonly shared belief all over the world that creation and innovation require legal protection in order to flourish, and thus both on a national and an international level. With regard to the conference theme, the issue had to be addressed whether legal protection under an intellectual property law regime would provide adequate legal recognition and respect to individuals and communities whose acts and products are difficult to reconcile with today’s dominant Western legal concepts. In particular it was questioned whether traditional intellectual property law, either in an unaltered or in an adapted way, had a role to play here. It appeared that the first thing to do in that respect is to acknowledge that intellectual property law is not only about conferring property rights and allowing them to become weapons in the competition between entrepreneurs. This is because intellectual property law also has the function of fostering and furthering cultural and economic life in a broad perspective on behalf of society at large.
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