A panel discussion on the eve of World Intellectual Property Day was held here at Shakarparian under the aegis of Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage), Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) and Centre for Culture & Development (C2D). The theme was “Traditional knowledge, folklore and intellectual property rights in Pakistan”.

Federal Secretary, Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, Asaf Ghafoor was the chief guest on the occasion. While addressing the gathering, the secretary said: “Intellectual property right is an important subject for Pakistan. I am glad that now a lot of awareness about it is seen in the institutions and individuals dealing with various national projects in the country. We fully support them and offer them our help wherever required.”

The panelists who took active part in the discussions were Ahmed Saleem, South Asia Research & Resource Centre, Khalid Javaid, Executive Director, Lok Virsa, Abdul Shakoor Sindhu, Principal Coordinator, RDPI, Dr. Nadeem Omar, Director, C2D, Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education, Dr. Khadim Hussain, Executive Director, Bacha Khan Research Centre, Mazhar Arif, Managing Director, School of Political and Strategic Communication, Hummera Ishfaq, International Islamic University, Karim Johar, Cultural Advisor to Governor Gilgit Baltistan and Dr. Huma Haque, Dean, Humanities & Social Sciences Department, Bahria University.

Speaking on the occasion, Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid said: “Lok Virsa works towards the awareness of our cultural legacy by collecting, documenting and projecting it. A survey, research and documentation of the cultural heritage of Pakistan is central to its objectives. After its inception in 1974, Lok Virsa started a nation-wide project to record, document and preserve all components of the Pakistan’s traditional knowledge, in particular folk music through conducting village-to-village, town-to-town and district-to-district cultural surveys. Mobile recording and filming units were set up for active field research, documentation and collection of the materials components of our indigenous traditions.

Later, a series of audio-visual cassettes, CDs and DVDs were published. But due to no intellectual property rights introduced in Pakistan at that time, most of our products were got pirated”. He expressed the hope that because of growing awareness about the subject matter, now we, all stakeholders, will be in a position not to face the difficulties that Lok Virsa encountered in the past.

The purpose of panel discussion was to raise general awareness and understanding of how IP contributes to the flourishing of traditional knowledge and folklore. It is simultaneously aimed at kicking off an informed policy debate to address the concerns for the development and protection of traditional knowledge and folklore as economic resources critical for the growth of Pakistani economy in the era of globalisation.

The aims and objectives of the dialogue were to stimulate a discussion on the role of IP in national culture. Specific objectives were to analyse the threats and opportunities for the development of national cultural heritage in the context of TRIPS agreement and cultural diversity; discuss the effectiveness of IPR legislation for the protecting national cultural heritage; and highlight issues in monitoring of IP Rights and discuss the measures needed to put in place effective institutional mechanisms for tracking violation of IPRs in Traditional Knowledge and Folklore.

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce and otherwise. Intellectual property is divided into two categories: industrial property includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications. Copyright covers literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works (e.g., drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures) and architectural design. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs. Within the basic forms of intellectual property, many variations and special kinds of protection are possible. Geographical indications, which identify a good as originating in a locality where a given quality, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin, such as Ajrak and Basmati rise.

Intellectual property rights are likely any other property right. They allow creators of new goods with designs, qualities, or owners of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work and investment in a creation. These rights are outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 represents a commitment by nations to conserve biological diversity, to use biological resources sustainably, and to share the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources fairly and equitably. Article 8(j) of the convention draws a connection among traditional knowledge, folklore and genetic resources by calling on nations to “respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities” and to promote wider application with the approval of the holders of such knowledge and practices.

Traditional knowledge (TK) refers to systems of knowledge passed from generation to generation pertaining to a particular group of community of people or territory, displayed in their creations, innovations and cultural expressions. Traditional knowledge that has existed for a long time, is not static and can be constantly evolving in response to a changing environment. Folklore refers to traditional artistic heritage developed and maintained by a community or by individuals who reflect the traditional artistic expectations of such a community. Expressions of folklore may be intangible and oral, as in folktales; musical, as in songs; actions, as in folk dances, plays, or rituals; or other tangible expressions, such as drawings, paintings, carvings, sculptures, pottery, woodwork, metal ware, jewelry, basket weaving, needlework, textiles, carpets, costumes, musical instruments and architectural forms, among others.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) and Agreement on better understand and implement CBD within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRPS). WIPO was established under Article 1 the WIPO Convention of 1967. C2D and RDPI believe that there is an emerging concern in Pakistan and other developing countries for the loss of traditional knowledge; lack of respect for traditional knowledge; systematic misappropriation of traditional knowledge, including offensive use without benefit sharing; and the need to preserve and promote the use of traditional knowledge. Indigenous communities have many similar concerns regarding their traditional artistic expressions. C2D has also been advocating for creating new forms of legal protections for these resources in Pakistan.

World Intellectual Property Day (World IP Day) is celebrated every year on April 26, to raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life and to celebrate creativity and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe. World IP Day offers an exciting chance each year to join with others around the globe, to highlight, discuss and demonstrate the importance of IP for the development of national and sub-national cultures and economies.