The Positive Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions by Intellectual Property Rights in Africa

  • Enyinna Nwauche


This chapter critically evaluates the positive protection of traditional cultural expressions by examining how folklore is protected by intellectual property rights in African states, including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. The protection of traditional cultural expressions by intellectual property rights is generally considered as positive protection if its primary objective is to endow proprietary rights on the creators of traditional cultural expressions, usually but not exclusively, on communities of origin, to exploit the traditional cultural expressions through determining how and when third parties will have access to their traditional cultural expressions. Since all African states recognise intellectual property rights, two broad possibilities—albeit loosely understood—exist in this regard. The first possibility is the use—especially through judicial interpretation that some traditional cultural expressions can be protected by some or all intellectual property rights. The second group consists of states that through recent legislation recognise new rights protecting traditional cultural expressions as intellectual property rights. In line with this broad framework, this chapter is organised as follows. In the next part, an overview of the protection of traditional cultural expressions in certain African states is undertaken. The intellectual property rights framework in these states suggests that traditional cultural expressions can be protected by all or some of the rights. In the third section, a consideration of recent legislative reform in South Africa and Kenya reveals how traditional cultural expressions can be protected by rights of the use of intellectual property rights to protect traditional cultural expressions. With respect to South Africa, it is to be noted that on 6 September 2013, South Africa achieved a milestone by using the MMA to restrict the use of the words: ‘Rooibos; Red Bush; Rooibostee; Roosibos Tea; Rooitee and Rooibosch’ in connection with any trade, business, profession or occupation or in connection with a trademark, mark or trade description applied to goods by unauthorised third parties. In addition, the dual-track engagement through, on one hand, IPLAB 2011 and, on the other hand, the Draft Protection of Traditional Knowledge Bill yielded IPLAA 2013, which came into force on 10 December 2013. In Kenya, the PTKCE 2016, which came into force on 26 September 2016, represents what may appear unorthodox in the protection of traditional cultural expressions.


Intellectual Property Indigenous Community Indigenous Knowledge Geographical Indication Cultural Expression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adewopo, A. (2013). A consideration of communal trademarks for Nigerian leather and leather products. In J. de Beer, C. Armstrong, C. Oguamanam, & T. Schonwetter (Eds.), Innovation and intellectual property collaborative dynamics in Africa (pp. 108–131). Cape Town: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Amegatcher, A. O. (1993). Ghanaian law of copyright. Accra, Ghana: Omega Law Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Asein, J. (2003). Nigerian copyright law and practice. Abuja, Nigeria: Nigerian Copyright Commission.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, M. F. (2003). Who owns native culture? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Davies, G. (2002). Copyright and the public interest (2nd ed.). London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  6. Dean, O. H. (1996). Protection of author’s moral rights in South Africa. Copyright World, 59, 38–43.Google Scholar
  7. Dean, O. H. (1997). The case for the recognition of intellectual property in the bill of rights. Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law, 60, 105–119.Google Scholar
  8. Dean, O. H. (2010a). A different ball game. SAMRO Notes, 16.Google Scholar
  9. Dean, O. H. (2010b). Making a mockery of legislation: Intellectual property. Without Prejudice, 6, 16–17.Google Scholar
  10. Dean, O. H. (2012a). The protection of traditional knowledge Bill. Doc: 10D2012 Install 1.Google Scholar
  11. Dean, O. H. (2012b). The protection of traditional knowledge Bill. Doc: IOD2012 IP Stell. Google Scholar
  12. Dean, O. H. (2012c). Synopsis of the protection of traditional knowledge Bill. Doc: 20D2012 IP Stell. Google Scholar
  13. Du Bois, M. (2012). Intellectual property as a constitutional property right: The South African approach. South African Mercantile Law Journal, 24, 177–193.Google Scholar
  14. du Bois, M. (2013). Recognition and protection of traditional knowledge interests as property in South African law. European Property Law Journal, 2, 144–170.Google Scholar
  15. Ecols, M. A. (2003). Geographical indications for foods, TRIPS and the DOHA Development Agenda. Journal of African Law, 47, 199–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geiger, C. (2006). The three-step test, a threat to a balanced copyright law? International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, 37, 683–699.Google Scholar
  17. Geyer, S. (2010). Towards a clearer definition and understanding of ‘indigenous community’ for the purposes of the intellectual property laws amendment bill, 2010: An exploration of the concepts ‘indigenous’ and ‘traditional’. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 13, 127–143.Google Scholar
  18. Harms, L. T. C. (2009). A few negative trends in the field of intellectual property rights. Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law, 72(72), 175–191.Google Scholar
  19. Hlastwayo, N. M. (2010). No more stories for you, my children. SAMRO Notes, 20.Google Scholar
  20. Kiggundu, J. (2011). The juridification of indigenous knowledge systems in Botswana. WIPO Journal, 2, 143–156.Google Scholar
  21. Klopper, H. B., Pistorius, T., Rutherford, B. R., Tong, T., van der Merwe, A., & van der Spuy, P. (Eds.). (2011). Law of intellectual property in South Africa. Durban: LexisNexis.Google Scholar
  22. Mukuka, G. S. (2010). Indigenous knowledge systems and intellectual property laws in South Africa. PhD Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  23. Myburg, A. (2010). New copyright law will harm artistes it claims to protect. SAMRO Notes, 18.Google Scholar
  24. Nimmer, M. B. (1969). Does copyright abridge the first amendment guarantees of free speech and press. UCLA Law Review, 17, 1180–1204.Google Scholar
  25. Nkomo, M. L. (2013). South Africa’s proposed intellectual property law: The need for improved regional cooperation. Comparative and International Law Southern Africa, 46, 257–273.Google Scholar
  26. Nwauche, E. S. (2008). The judicial construction of the public interest in South African copyright law. International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, 39, 917–942.Google Scholar
  27. Nwauche, E. S. (2015a). The protection of indigenous terms and expressions by the merchandise marks act in South Africa. Queen Mary Intellectual Property Law Journal, 5, 214–225.Google Scholar
  28. Nwauche, E. S. (2015b). The emerging right to communal intellectual property. Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, 19, 225–241.Google Scholar
  29. Oguamanam, S., & Dagne, T. (2013). Geographical indication (GI) options for Ethiopian coffee and Ghanaian cocoa. In J. De Beer, C. Armstrong, C. Oguamanam, & T. Schonwetter (Eds.), Innovation and intellectual property collaborative dynamics in Africa (pp. 77–108). Cape Town, South Africa: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  30. Oliver, J. (2001). Copyright in the WTO: The panel discussion on the three-step test. Columbia Journal of Law and Arts, 25, 119–170.Google Scholar
  31. Pistorius, T. (2010). The trademarked city within a city. WIPO Magazine, 3, 10–14.Google Scholar
  32. Rengecas, T. (2008). Protection of traditional knowledge systems in South Africa – Part 2: Proposed amendments to intellectual property laws. De Rebus, 10, 24–27.Google Scholar
  33. Schonwetter, T., Ncube, C., & Chetty, P. (2010). South Africa. In C. Armstrong, J. de Beer, D. Kawooya, A. Prabhala, & T. Schonwetter (Eds.), Access to knowledge in Africa: The role of copyright (pp. 231–268). Cape Town: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  34. Sigogo, T., & Modipa, O. T. (2004). Critical reflections on community and psychology in South Africa. In N. Duncan, K. Ratele, D. Hook, N. Mkhize, P. Kiguwa, & A. Collins (Eds.), Self, community and psychology (pp. 316–334). Cape Town: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  35. van der Vyver, J. D. (2012). Nationalisation of mineral rights in South Africa. De Jure, 45, 125–142.Google Scholar
  36. Visser, C. J. (2002). Some thoughts on making intellectual property work for traditional knowledge. South African Mercantile Law Journal, 14, 656–687.Google Scholar
  37. Visser, C. J. (2005). The location of the parody defence in copyright law: Some comparative perspectives. CILSA, 38, 321–343.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enyinna Nwauche
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawRhodes University GrahamstownGrahamstownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations