The EcoPort Foundation
How does EcoPort protect the owners of traditional and indigenous
knowledge?
You are at: EcoPort Foundation: Questions & Answers: How does EcoPort protect the owners of traditional and indigenous knowledge?
Questions, comments and suggestions: t.putter@ecoport.org

When individuals and institutions publish their information in EcoPort, they create a public record that could be used to establish the existence of 'Prior Art'*: a concept that could play an important role in disputes about intellectual property rights.

In some situations and legal jurisdictions, e.g. in the USA, a person in the USA may apply for a patent covering someone else's 'invention' , unless the defending owner can point to a published record affirming the existence and ownership by someone other than the patent applicant, of Prior Art. The details can be found in Section 102 of the U.S. Patent Act, specifically, 35 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 102(a), (b) and (f). See also: WIPO/GRTKF/IC/2/6; http://www.wipo.int/eng/meetings/2001/igc/doc/grtkfic2_6.doc in Microsoft Word format, 86Kb).

Thus, sharing information and knowledge in EcoPort, where contributors explicitly retain all their intellectual property rights to any commercial use of the knowledge, also amounts to an act of 'Protective Disclosure' that could be used to fend off claims by others who try to claim intellectual property rights on the basis that there is no proof of Prior Art and previously disclosed ownership.

Because it is a standard aspect of backing up databases for technical reasons, such dated archives of older versions of the database, provided these archives are managed in a way that establish their original date of creation beyond doubt, become a valuable source of data to prove that documented Prior Art existed on the date the back-up archive was created.


* Prior Art:

The essence of intellectual property is originality; the recognition that an original act of creativity that generates a novelty is deserving of protection to enable the creator or inventor to have priority and right of ownership. This as a foundation and framework to reap recognition, honour and material reward as products of the owner's creative and inventive alent. Therefore, if someone else has 'done it first'; if their 'art' has priority and precedence over your art, then the first owner's claims should prevail.

One question is how does one establish who did what when; how is priority in time determined and verified? Different legal systems have different answers, but publication as described above is one solution.

A second question concerns the judgement of just where novelty begins and copying ends. Inserting a 'significant' comma into someone else's 200-line poem, is hardly equivalent to the originality of the first author.

Decisions about 'Prior Art' and interpretations as to what constitutes a 'Derived Copyright' are among the issues that make the management of intellectual property and the harmonisation of different national legal frameworks such a complex affair.