Traditional Knowledge

Traditional knowledge (TK) is a living body of knowledge passed on from generation to generation within a community. It often forms part of a people’s cultural and spiritual identity. WIPO's program on TK also addresses traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and genetic resources (GRs).

Our work has two complementary pillars:

Find out more: Indigenous portal | Frequently asked questions | Glossary of key terms


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Traditional Knowledge Updates – Regular news and resources about IP and TK; and IGC updates.

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Areas of our work

(Photo: Getty/triloks)

Traditional knowledge

Knowledge, know-how, practices and skills that are developed, sustained and passed on within a community. This includes knowledge related to agriculture, health or biodiversity.

(Photo: Getty/piyaphun)

Traditional cultural expressions

Forms in which traditional culture is expressed, such as dances, songs, handicrafts, designs, ceremonies, tales or many other artistic or cultural expressions.

(Photo: Getty/PhongTranVN)

Genetic resources

Genetic material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity, such as medicinal plants, agricultural crops and animal breeds.

Training and capacity building

(Photo: WIPO)

Seminars and workshops

Our seminars provide opportunities for member states and other stakeholders to discuss policy issues and exchange experiences in a less formal setting. Practical workshops allow stakeholders to share knowledge, build understanding and foster coordination within and between countries.

(Photo: Getty images/Talishka)

Practical and hands-on training

We offer intensive practical and hands-on training opportunities for indigenous peoples and local communities to strengthen their capacity to make strategic and effective use of IP.

(Photo: Getty/gawrav)

Distance learning

The WIPO Academy's "Advanced Distance Learning Course on IP, TK and TCEs" provides technical information on key concepts and international, regional and national experiences, policy options and legal mechanisms available or under consideration for the IP protection of TK and TCEs.


IP and Genetic Resources, TK and TCEs

General information on the interface between IP and GRs, TK and TCEs

Documenting TK – A Toolkit

A range of easy-to-use checklists and other resources to help anyone considering a documentation project

Key Questions on Patent Disclosure Requirements for Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge - Second Edition

Overview of key legal and operational questions related to patent disclosure requirements.