Lee-Ann Tong is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town.
This article addresses the interface between the intellectual property system and the protection of traditional knowledge in South Africa. In the absence of a single international approach to which countries are bound, national systems are free to chart their own course. South Africa has forged ahead and every intellectual property specific statute has over the last few years been amended to take account of traditional knowledge.
The most significant and controversial development has been the wholesale amendment of the copyright, trade marks, and designs legislation to recognize various manifestations of indigenous knowledge as protectable subject matter under each statute. Despite substantial criticisms during the consultation process, the legislature has eschewed sui generis protection with the result that...