1.6 OTHER IP
In this section, we will examine a few other types of intellectual property or allied fields.
When we talk about trade dress, we refer to the visual appearance of a product. This could be its packaging. In the case of architecture, it could be the design of a building. The principle is akin to that of trademarks, in that the source or origin of the product has to be communicated to the consumers.
When we speak of trade secrets, we speak for instance, of Coca Cola’s secret recipe to manufacture their popular beverage. Trade secrets, therefore, basically refer to information, be it a formula, a program, a method, a pattern, a process or anything of the like. The rationale of keeping the same a ‘secret’ is to have a competitive economic advantage over one’s competitors in one’s trade.
What do Champagne, Darjeeling Tea, Columbian Coffee or Swiss Cheese/Watches/Cuckoo Clocks/Chocolates have in common? They are all examples of geographical indications. A geographical indication (GI) is a sign that is used on goods and denotes the geographical origin of the said good. The qualities of that product, or the reputation and characteristics that it enjoys are attributable to the place of origin of the product, and are represented by the GI. A GI will, more often than not, include the name of the place of the origin of the goods. Recognition of GIs is a matter of national law. In international law, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, 1883; the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration, 1958 most notably deal with GIs.
Does your family have its own set of rituals and traditions that might be reflected in festivals or weddings? How about the recipe for that perfect pie that might have been passed down in your family from generation to generation, beyond anyone’s memory; or those “home remedies” for the common cold or fever? These might just be one manifestation of what we call “traditional knowledge” (TK). When we speak of TK, we refer to the knowledge, the skills, the know-how, the practices that have been passed down from generation to generation, within a community, having been developed and sustained in that community. This knowledge forms a part of the cultural and spiritual identity of communities and may be a part of scientific, agricultural and medical contexts, among others. It is interesting to note that while innovations based on TK are protectable under systems of patents, trademarks, copyrights, or GIs, TK itself does not enjoy protection under intellectual property law as it stands today. Issues in this area are therefore two fold- first, of developing strategies to ensure third parties do not exploit TK at the cost of communities and do not enjoy an unfair benefit as a result of IP protections on work based on TK and second, of communities actively using, exploiting and benefiting economically from their TK.