Customary Law and Intellectual Property

Customary law is the set of customs, practices and beliefs that are accepted as obligatory rules of conduct by a community. Customary law forms an intrinsic part of social and economic systems and the way of life of indigenous peoples and local communities.

What role customary law should play in the wider protection of traditional knowledge is a challenging question that raises a host of policy and legal issues. Holders of traditional knowledge have stressed that respect and recognition of customary law is integral to appropriate protection of traditional knowledge against misuse and misappropriation by others.


  • Customary Law and Traditional Knowledge (background brief) PDF, Customary Law and Traditional Knowledge
  • Customary Law, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property: An Outline of the Issues
  • Customary Law in the Protection of Traditional Knowledge - Regional Study in the Andean Countries
  • Customary Law in ABS and TK Governance: Perspectives from Andean and Pacific Island Countries