Traditional knowledge (TK) is a form of intellectual production that is a source of economic and cultural value, especially for local communities in developing countries. Yet, a legal gap exists between the kinds of protections afforded by existing intellectual property (IP) law and TK. This legal gap poses serious consequences for trade relations and the relations between developing and developed countries. Using the controversy in which the U.S.-based RiceTec Company attempted to gain IP rights over basmati rice derived from traditional sources, this Note explains the legal gap that exists and how it manifested itself in U.S. IP law. This Note also argues that TK products like basmati rice, while not strong candidates to receive patent protection, are strong candidates to receive geographical indication protection.
Reaping What They Sow: The Basmati Rice Controversy and Strategies for Protecting Traditional Knowledge,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.