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Using Collective Marks and Certification Marks to Protect and Promote Culture

April 7, 2021

During a WIPO webinar held on March 24, 2021, members of the Taita Basket Association (Kenya) and the Sámi Council (Norway) shared their communities’ experiences with collective marks and certification marks. Focusing on how these particular intellectual property tools can be useful for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, the interactive webinar is the first of its kind in the WIPO webinar series How to Protect and Promote Your Culture.

Photo: (left to right): Anna Sinkevich (WIPO), Christina Hætta (Sámi Council, Norway), Jacob Adams (Intellectual Property Law Practitioner, USA), Dorcas Gombe Mwambeta (Taita Basket Association, Kenya).

Across the world, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have developed a wealth of traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). While the intellectual property system does not provide solutions to all the challenges faced by indigenous peoples and local communities, it does offer tools which can be used to protect certain aspects of and promote (or prevent the misappropriation of) these traditional forms of innovation and creativity.

Strategic use of the intellectual property system can be a way to maximize the economic value of TK and TCEs-related products and services.

The purpose of these webinars is to show real stories of the use of [intellectual property] rights by [indigenous peoples and local communities].

Wend Wendland, Director of WIPO’s Traditional Knowledge Division

In this interactive webinar moderated by WIPO Indigenous Fellow Anna Sinkevich, two representatives of their respective IPLCs – Ms. Dorcas Gombe Mwambeta of the Taita Basket Association (Kenya) and Ms. Christina Hætta of the Sámi Council (Norway) – shared their communities' experiences using collective marks and certification marks.

(Photo: WIPO/Shingo Tsuda)

[The collective mark has led to] a lot of changes. We’ve increased the sales [and] the quality has improved, because when you weave a basket you should meet the standard of the association.

Dorcas Gombe Mwambeta, Taita Basket Association, Kenya
(Photo: Sámi Council)

We wish to give the consumer a good experience and a sense of security that they have chosen a Sámi produced product, or ‘duodji’. The [certification marks] will also raise interest and tell a story about the product and the Sámi culture, where we ourselves are the authors.

Christina Hætta, Head, Cultural Unit, Sámi Council, Norway

Intellectual property expert and practitioner, Mr. Jacob Adams (USA), took the floor to highlight key concepts linked to collective marks and certification marks, explaining how these tools can be relevant to the particular needs of IPLCs.

One of the major issues that is encountered within the products and services market in [IPLCs] is that many consumers don’t know where to find genuine [products and services], or they don’t have the means to identify [whether they’re] genuine or not, and that’s where certification and collective mark systems can really make an impact.

Jacob Adams, Intellectual Property Law Practitioner, USA

Following the presentations, speakers answered various questions posed by the webinar’s participants.

Background of the Webinar Series: How to Protect and Promote Your Culture

The webinar series How to Protect and Promote Your Culture is inspired by the WIPO publication Protect and Promote Your Culture - A Practical Guide to Intellectual Property for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. The webinar series is primarily addressed to IPLCs, focusing on some of the main intellectual property tools that can be useful for them.

We trust that the series will be of interest to IPLCs, officials, intellectual property experts and others who wish to learn more about the application of intellectual property rights in this particular area. Each webinar will address a specific intellectual property right or intellectual property tool. We intend for the series to be very practical and participatory in its approach.

A separate session of the webinar on collective marks and certification marks will take place in Spanish on April 28, 2021.

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Links to Additional Information on the Webinar