McManis presented a paper on this topic during the "Ancient Wisdom/Contemporary Science: Traditional Knowledge in the 21st Century," panel held on Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement science, held Feb. 16-20 in St. Louis.
According to McManis, existing IP rules, the closely related law of unfair competition, and associated contractual mechanisms can provide far more comprehensive legal protection for the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples than is generally acknowledged.
"Minor modification of the patent application process could not only affirmatively protect the genetic resources of developing countries but also help prevent authentic instances of biopiracy," he says.
"Creating a completely new system is likely to be fraught with far more practical and theoretical difficulties than would be involved in modifying the current patent system to require disclosure of the origin of relevant genetic resources and evidence of prior informed consent of those providing such resources and/or any associated traditional knowledge as a condition for enforcing otherwise valid intellectual property rights."
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