Related to the issue of IKS is intellectual property rights (IPR), which has assumed increasing importance in terms of conservation, management, sustainable utilization and benefit sharing of genetic resources. The plunder of African intellectual property rights contributes to human vulnerability, because the region will be unable to derive benefit from its resources, particularly after patenting.
African countries which are particularly rich in genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore have an interest in the role of IPR, in the sharing of benefits arising from the patenting and use of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge (WIPO 2001). For example, currently, at least 97 per cent of all patents are held by nationals of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and at least 90 per cent of all technology and product patents are held by Northernbased global corporations (UNDP 2000, Singh 2001). Similarly, at least 70 per cent of all patent royalty payments are made between the subsidiaries of parent enterprises, and three-quarters of the 76 000-odd patent applications filed to WIPO in 1999 came from just five OECD countries (RAFI 2000c, Singh 2001).
Between 1980 and 1994, the share of global trade involving high-tech, patented production rose from 12 per cent to 24 per cent, and now accounts for more than half of the GDP of OECD countries if intellectual property rights on plants and livestock are included UNDP 1999, Singh 2001). The total revenue from all patents grew from US$15 000 million in 1990 to US$100 000 million in 1998, and is expected to increase to US$500 000 million dollars by 2005 (RAFI 2000c). The number of cases of intellectual appropriation of the South is growing steadily. Box 3.21 gives some statistics on IPR.
|Box 3.21 IPR statistics|
|Source: Singh 2001|
The OAU has produced model legislation to regulate traditional medicine in African countries, and member states have already adopted it. Box 3.22 highlights some of the provisions of the model law, which will be used as a basis for finalizing uniform national laws aimed at integrating African economies.
|BoxBox 3.22 African model law on intellectual property rights|