Article XX.        Intellectual property rights  

1.     Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition and the full ownership, control and protection of their cultural, artistic, spiritual, technological and scientific heritage, and legal protection for their intellectual property through trademarks, patents, copyright and other such procedures as established under domestic law; as well as to special measures to ensure them legal status and institutional capacity to develop, use, share, market and bequeath that heritage to future generations.  

2.     Indigenous peoples have the right to control, develop and protect their sciences and technologies, including their human and genetic resources in general, seed, medicine, knowledge of plant and animal life, original designs and procedure.  

3.     The states shall take appropriate measures to ensure participation of the indigenous peoples in the determination of the conditions for the utilization, both public and private, of the rights listed in the previous paragraphs 1. and 2.




1.        Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN 1994)  

Article 29:


"Indigenous peoples are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership, control and protection of their cultural and intellectual property.”


They have the right to special measures to control, develop and protect their sciences, technologies and cultural manifestations, including human and other genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs and visual and performing arts."  

2.        Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)  

Article 8 “In situ Conservation


Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:

(j) Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices.”


Article 10: “Sustainable Use of Components of Biological Diversity

Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:

(c) Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements”.


Article 15: Access to Genetic Resources

(5) "Access to genetic resources shall be subject to prior informed consent of the Contracting Party providing such resources, unless otherwise determined by that Party."

(7) "Each Contracting Party shall take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate...with the aim of sharing in a fair and equitable way the results of research and development and the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources with the Contracting Party providing such resources.  Such sharing shall be upon mutually agreed terms.”  

3.        The Rome Copyright Convention (1961)  

Article 2:


Protection given by the Convention. Definition of National Treatment

1.         For the purposes of this Convention, national treatment shall mean the treatment accorded by the domestic law of the Contracting State in which protection is claimed:


a.         to performers who are its nationals, as regards performances taking place, broadcast, or first fixed, on its territory;

b.         to producers of phonograms who are its nationals, as regards phonograms first fixed or first published on its territory;

c.         to broadcasting organizations which have their headquarters on its territory, as regards broadcast transmitted from transmitters situated on tis territory.


2.         National treatment shall be subject to the protection specifically guaranteed, and the limitations specifically provided for in this Convention.  

4.       Berlin Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) 

Article 1: "The countries to which the present convention applies are constituted into a Union for the protection of the rights of authors over their literary and artistic works."  

Article 2(1): The term "literary and artistic works" shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression, such as books, pamphlets and other writings; lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of the same nature; dramatic or dramatico-musical works, choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show, musical compositions with or without words; cinematographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to cinematography; works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography; photographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography; works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science.  

5.       Paris Convention for the Protection for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883)  

Article 1(1): "The countries to which the present convention applies are constituted into a Union for the protection of industrial property."  

Article 1(3):  "Industrial property shall be understood in the broadest sense and shall apply not only to industry and commerce proper, but likewise to agriculture and extractive industries and to all manufactured or natural products, for examples, wines, grain, tobacco leaf, fruit, cattle, minerals, mineral water, beer, flowers, and flour."      

6.        Patent Cooperation Treaty (1970)  

Article (1): "The States party to this Treaty...constitute a Union for cooperation in the filing, searching, and examination, of applications for the protection of inventions..."  

7.        Universal Copyright Convention (1971)  

Article I: "Each Contracting State undertakes to provide for the adequate and effective protection of the rights of authors and other copyright proprietors in literary, scientific and artistic works, including writings, musical, dramatic and cinematographic works, and paintings, engravings and sculpture."  

8.      Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General Recommendation XXIII (51) Concerning Indigenous Peoples (August 1997)  

         Para. 4: "The Committee calls in particular upon States parties to:

d. ensure that members of indigenous peoples have equal rights in respect of effective participation in public life, and that no decisions directly relating to their rights and interests are taken without their informed consent;"  

9.       Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, adopted by the General Conference (UNESCO 1997)  

"…Recognizing that research on the human genome and the resulting applications open up vast prospects for progress in improving the health of individuals and of humankind as a whole, but  emphasizing that such research should fully respect human dignity, freedom and human rights, as  as the prohibition of all forms of discrimination based on genetic characteristics..."  

Article 5 (b):  "In all cases, the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned shall be obtained. If the latter is not in a position to consent, consent or authorization shall be obtained in the manner prescribed by law, guided by the person's best interest."  

10.      Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests (UN doc. 1992)  

Para. 12(d): "Appropriate indigenous capacity and local knowledge regarding the conservation and sustainable development of forests should, through institutional and financial support and in collaboration with the people in the local communities concerned, be recognized, respected, recorded, developed and, as appropriate, introduced in the implementation of programmes.  Benefits arising form the utilization of indigenous knowledge should therefore be equitably shared with such people."  

11.     Informe de la relatora Especial de la Subcomisión de Prevención de Discriminaciones y Protección a las Minorías sobre la “Protección del patrimonio de los pueblos indígenas (UN 1986).  

159. "Los pueblos indígenas han sido vulnerables a la pérdida de su patrimonio como entidades diferentes. Como por lo general  los gobiernos los consideran “atrasados”, han sido objeto de políticas agresivas de asimilación cultural.  Con frecuencia sus artes y conocimientos no se consideraron como tesoros mundiales sino que simplemente se destruyeron durante el proceso de colonización.  A menudo se dio más valor a sus cuerpos que a su cultura, que fue coleccionada por museos. El turismo, una creciente demanda de arte “primitivo” por los consumidores y el desarrollo de la biotechnología amenazan ahora la capacidad de los pueblos indígenas para proteger lo que queda de su patrimonio”.  

12.    Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable for Sustainable Development, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Statement of Principles. Final Text of Agreements Negotiated by Governments at UNCED Conference, June 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  

26.4. "Some indigenous people and their communities may require, in accordance with national legislation, greater control over their lands, self-management of their resources, participation in development decisions affecting them, including, where appropriate, participation in the establishment or management of protected areas. The following are some of the specific measures which Governments could take:

(b) Adopt or strengthen appropriate policies and/or legal instruments that will protect indigenous intellectual and cultural property and the right to preserve customary and administrative systems and practices."  


13.      Brazil  

         Estatuto das sociedades indigenas (Proyecto de ley)  

Art. 14: Integram o patrimônio indígena

IV. “o direito autoral, e sobre obras artísticas de criação das próprias comunidades indígenas, incluídos os direitos de imagem;

V. os direitos sobre as tecnologias, obras científicas e inventos de criação das comunidades indígenas”.


Art. 18 - É assegurado às comunidades indígenas o direito fundamental de manter sob absoluto sigilo e confidencialidade todo e qualquer conhecimento tradicional que detenham, em especial sobre características ou propriedades de ecossistemas e habitats naturais, espécies vivas, vegetais ou animais, microorganismos, fármacos e essências naturais, ou quaisquer recursos ou processos biológicos ou genéticos.

§ 1º - O direito das comunidades indígenas a que se refere o caput inclui a faculdade de recusar, sem qualquer justificativa, o acesso a terceiros a seus conhecimentos tradicionais, ou de recusar autorização para a divulgação ou utilização, para fins científicos, comerciais ou industriais, sob qualquer forma, de seus conhecimentos tradicionais.


§ 2º - A violação deste direito fundamental das comunidades indígenas, com a apropriação ou utilização indevida, sob qualquer forma, de seus conhecimentos tradicionais, sujeitará os infratores a responsabilidade criminal, definida nesta lei, bem como à responsabilidade civil por todos os danos morais e materiais causados às comunidades indígenas.


Art. 19 - É assegurado às comunidades e sociedades indígenas, bem como a qualquer um de seus membros, o direito de requerer patente de invenção, modelo de utilidade, modelo industrial ou registro de desenho industrial desenvolvidos com base em seus conhecimentos tradicionais coletivos.


§ 1º - As patentes ou registros a que se refere o caput serão sempre concedidos em nome da comunidade ou sociedade indígena respectiva, quando se tratar de invenção, modelo ou desenho industrial desenvolvidos com base em conhecimentos tradicionais coletivos, pertencentes a toda a comunidade ou sociedade indígena e transmitidos a novas gerações de acordo com usos, costumes e tradições indígenas, vedada, nestes casos, a concessão de patente ou registro em nome individual, sob pena de nulidade.


§ 2º - As comunidades e sociedades indígenas estão isentas do pagamento das respectivas anuidades e de quaisquer tributos, não podendo o órgão federal de proteção à propriedade industrial, em qualquer hipótese, se recusar a apreciar pedido de concessão de patente ou registro por falta de pagamento das mesmas.


Art. 20 - O acesso, a utilização e a aplicação de conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas em pesquisas científicas que tenham finalidade industrial ou comercial só podem ser realizados mediante o consentimento prévio e por escrito das comunidades indígenas, sob pena de responsabilidade criminal, definida nesta lei, e cível.


§ 1º - O ato de consentimento das comunidades indígenas, a que se refere o caput, está subordinado a contrato escrito, celebrado com a assistência do Ministério Público Federal, que estipule as condições específicas em que será permitido o acesso, a utilização ou aplicação dos conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas, e fixe remuneração justa e eqüitativa para a comunidade indígena, bem como sua participação nos benefícios auferidos com a utilização industrial ou comercial dos resultados das pesquisas.


§ 2º - Qualquer utilização ou aplicação, industrial ou comercial, de conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas, não previstos no ato de consentimento inicial da comunidade indígena, a que se refere o parágrafo anterior, estão sujeitos a nova autorização da comunidade; sendo expressamente proibida qualquer utilização ou aplicação industrial ou comercial não autorizada de conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas.


§ 3º - Salvo estipulação em contrário no ato de consentimento da comunidade indígena, quaisquer informações prestadas por seus membros, envolvendo conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas, de natureza coletiva, serão confidenciais, e não poderão ser transmitidas a terceiros sem a sua prévia autorização por escrito.


§ 4º - São nulos e extintos, não produzindo efeitos jurídicos, quaisquer atos ou contratos firmados por comunidades ou sociedades indígenas com terceiros que permitam o acesso, a utilização ou aplicação, industrial ou comercial, de conhecimentos tradicionais indígenas em pesquisas científicas sem a previsão expressa de co-titularidade da propriedade de todos os resultados das pesquisas e de todos os seus produtos derivados.


§ 5º - Não se aplicam as exigências previstas neste artigo às pesquisas científicas ou acadêmicas desenvolvidas em áreas indígenas sem finalidades lucrativas.


Art. 21 - As comunidades ou sociedades indígenas cujos conhecimentos ou modelos tenham sido utilizados, direta ou indiretamente, no desenvolvimento de invenção, modelo de utilidade, modelo industrial ou desenho industrial serão sempre co-titulares das patentes ou registros industriais requeridos por terceiros, independentemente de formulação de pedido por parte das mesmas.


§ 1º - Os requerentes de patentes sobre invenções, modelos ou desenhos desenvolvidos nas condições a que se refere o caput deverão indicar quais comunidades ou sociedades indígenas devem constar como co-titulares da patente, sob pena de nulidade absoluta da mesma.


§ 2º - As comunidades, sociedades ou organizações indígenas poderão impugnar, administrativa ou judicialmente, a indicação a que se refere o parágrafo anterior.


Art. 30 - Às obras intelectuais e criações de espírito produzidas por índios, de forma individual, aplicam-se as normas de proteção aos direitos autorais estabelecidas na legislação em vigor.


Art. 31 - As comunidades e sociedades indígenas são titulares de direitos morais e patrimoniais sobre as suas obras intelectuais e criações de espírito coletivamente produzidas, de qualquer modo exteriorizadas, tais como:


I - as composições musicais, tenham ou não letra, sejam ou não escritas;

II - as conferências, alocuções e outras da mesma natureza;

III - as obras coreográficas e pantomímicas, sejam ou não escritas;

IV - as obras dramáticas e dramático-musicais;

V - as obras artesanais, gráficas, plásticas e ilustrativas, tais como ilustrações, desenhos, pinturas, gravuras, litografia, esculturas e outras congêneres;

VI - as obras arquitetônicas e cenográficas;

VII - todas e quaisquer outras obras intelectuais ou criações do espírito das próprias comunidades ou sociedades indígenas, ainda que transmitidas pela tradição oral, e independentemente de sua origem temporal.  

14.      Canada  

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Vol 3 Recommendations  

“The federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, review its legislation on the protection of intellectual property to ensure that Aboriginal interests and perspectives, in particular collective interests, are adequately protected.”  

15.      Colombia  

Constitución Política de Colombia  

Articulo 72. "El Patrimonio cultural de la Nación esta bajo la protección del Estado.  El patrimonio arquelógico y otros bienes culturales que conforman la identidad nacional, pertenecen a la Nación y son inalienables, embaragables, e imprescriptibles.  La ley establecerá los mecanismos para readquirirlos cuando se encuentren en manos de particulares y reglamentará los derechos especiales que pudieran tener los grupos étnicos asentados en territorios de riqueza arqueológica”.  

16.      Chile  

Ley No. 19.253  

Articulo 19: "Los indígenas gozarán del derecho a ejercer comunitariamente actividades en los sitios sagrados o ceremoniales, cementerios, canchas de guillatrin, apachetas, campos deportivos y otros espacios territoriales de uso, cultural o recreativo, que sean de propiedad fiscal”.  

Articulo 28(f): "El reconocimiento, respeto y protección de las culturas e idiomas indígenas contemplará: La promoción de las expresiones artísticas y culturales y la protección del patrimonio arquitectónico, arqueológico, cultural e histórico indígena”.  

17.      United States  

- Executive Order to Protect American Indian Sacred Sites (May 24, 1996)


Section 1: US executive branch agencies “shall to the extent practicable, permitted by law, and not clearly inconsistent with essential agency functions,” “(1)accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and (2) avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.  Where appropriate, agencies shall maintain the confidentiality of sacred sites.”


Section 2(b): agencies with management responsibilities over federal land will report on “procedures implemented or proposed to facilitate consultation with appropriate Indian tribes and religious leaders.”  

         - National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), 16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.  

Under this Act, the US government took a more aggressive role in preserving its “historical and cultural foundations” by “accelerat[ing] its historic preservation programs and activities” and “assist[ing] State and local governments, Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organization” in their own preservation programs through increased consultation, and exchanges of financial assistance. § 470(1)(b)(7)2(6).  A National Register of Historic Places was established, §470(a), whereby sites on this list can include “[p]roperties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization,” §470(a).  Consultations with Indian tribes or Native Hawaiians are required where they may “attach[] religious and cultural significance to properties...” §470(a). Once on the list, the effect on the site must be considered during any planning or execution of any “proposed federal or federally assisted undertaking.” §470(f). Tribes must be consulted during this process as well. 36 C.F.R. §800.  Moreover, a "tribe may assume all of any part of the functions of a State Historic Preservation Officer...with respect to tribal lands...”, §470(a).  Lastly, the Act provides that the federal agency may keep the location of these sites confidential where there is fear that disclosure could "cause significant invasion of privacy; (2) risk harm to the historic resource; or (3) impede the use of a traditional religious site by practitioners.” §470(w).


- Archeological Resource Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 470aa-470mm  

The Act’s purpose is to “[s]ecure, for the present and future benefit of the American people, the protection of archaeological resources and sites which are on public lands and Indian lands” §470aa and requires a permit before any person can "excavate or removal any archeological resource.” § 470cc(a). Where the permit issued “may result in harm to or destruction of any religious or cultural site...the Federal land manager, before issuing such permit, shall notify any Indian tribe which may consider the site as having religious or cultural importance.” §470cc(c). “In the case of any permits for the excavation or removal of any archaeological resource located on Indian lands, the permit may be granted [by the Federal land manager] only after obtaining the consent of the Indian or Indian tribe owning or having jurisdiction over such lands.  The permit shall include such terms and conditions as may be requested by such Indian or Indian tribe.”  § 470cc(g)(2).    

- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 USC 3001 et seq. 

Provides for the repatriation to Indian tribes of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and cultural patrimony that are excavated or discovered on federal or tribal lands or that are currently in the control of federal agencies or museums receiving federal funding.  

18.      Guatemala  

Agreement on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples  

Article III.F.  Science and technology

1. The existence and value of the scientific and technological knowledge of the Maya and other indigenous peoples are recognized. This legacy must be retrieved, developed and disseminated.

2. The Government undertakes to promote the study and dissemination of this knowledge and to help put it to practical use. Universities, academic centres, the communications media, non-governmental organizations and international cooperation agencies are urged to validate and publicize the scientific and technical contributions of indigenous peoples.

3. Furthermore, the Government shall facilitate access by indigenous peoples to contemporary knowledge and shall promote scientific and technical exchanges.  

19.      Mexico  

-Ley de derechos de los pueblos y comunidades indígenas del Estado de Oaxaca 

Articulo 22: “Los pueblos y comunidades indígenas tienen derecho al respeto pleno de la propiedad, control y protección de su patrimonio cultural e intelectual. El Estado, por medio de sus instituciones competentes y consenso con los pueblos y las comunidades indígenas, dictará las medidas idóneas para la eficaz protección de sus ciencias, tecnologías y manifestaciones cultutrales, comprendidos los recursos humanos y biológicos, así como el conocimiento de las propiedades de la fauna y la flora, minerales, tradiciones orales, literaturas, diseños y artes visuales y dramáticas”.  

20.      Nicaragua  

         Constitution of Nicaragua  

Article 128: “The state protects the archeological, historical, linguistic, cultural and artistic patrimony of the nation.”    

21.      Panama  

Regimen Especial de la Comarca Kuna Yala  

-Articulo 13: "El Congreso General de la Cultura Kuna es el organismo de expresión religioso de protección, conservación y divulgación del patrimonio histórico cultural del pueblo Kuna”.  

-Articulo 38: "Los sitios y objectos arqueológicos, documentos, monumentos históricos y cualquier otro bien mueble e inmueble que sean testimonio del pasado pueblo Kuna, son del Patrimonio de la Comarca y las cuales estarán bajo la custodia del Congreso.  Para tales efectos, el Congreso, através de la Comisión del Centro de Investigación Kuna buscará los mecanismos adecuados para custodio y conservación, conjuntamente con la Dirección Nacional del Patrimonio Histórico del Instituto Nacional de Cultura”.  

22.      Venezuela  

-Constitución Política de la República de Venezuela  

Articulo 124: "Se garantiza y protege la propiedad intelectual colectiva de los conocimientos, tecnologías e innovaciones de los pueblos indígenas.  

Toda actividad relacionada con los recursos genéticos y los conocimientos asociados a los mismos perseguirán beneficios colectivos.  Se prohíbe el registro de patentes sobre estos recursos y conocimientos ancestrales”.  

-Ley Indígena  

Articulo 6: "Para conservar el patrimonio arqueológico nacional, quedan prohibidas búsqueda y extracción de huacas en los cementerlos indígenas, con excepción de exploraciones científicas autorizadas por instituciones oficiales.  En todo caso éstas necesitarán la autorización de la comunidad indígena y de la CONAI”.



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