WIPO launches new program on IP for indigenous women entrepreneurs

We recently wrote an article that looked at the issues surrounding Marvel and the accusations it faced with regards to potential infringement of Ghanaian copyright law. The article looked at Marvel’s use of ‘Kente’ designs, which are popular Ghanaian designs, in the production of Black Panther. The use of Traditional Cultural Expression (“TCE”) and Traditional Knowledge (“TK”) in films often raises intellectual property implications: we have previously discussed these here.

TCE, also known as ‘expressions of folklore’, is a term used to describe artistic and cultural expressions in relation to, for example, music, dance and art. TCEs are integral to the social and cultural identities of indigenous and local communities and their protection promotes creativity, enhances cultural diversity and preserves cultural heritage. TK is identified as know-how, skills and practices that are developed over time and passed on through generations within a community.

Given the recent debate caused by the use of TCEs and TK in the film industry, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has launched a project-based training and mentoring program for women entrepreneurs from indigenous communities. The project is open to designers, musicians, researchers and those involved in projects based on TK and TCEs and aims to help provide women with the knowledge and tools necessary to make effective use of intellectual property rights.

The project was launched on 9 August 2019, which coincided with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

The project is an important step towards helping indigenous communities to understand and identify the role that intellectual property can play in preserving cultural heritage and preventing it from being exploited.

WIPO expect that the program will help entrepreneurs to sustainably brand and commercialise their communities’ TK and TCE based projects.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.