The rich and diverse Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs) of various tribal communities in northeastern states of India are undocumented, unprotected and unregistered for Intellectual Rights Protection (IPRs). Pressing issues like illiteracy, ignorance and poverty have handicapped them from developing appropriate IPRs to combat cultural appropriation and intellectual theft. Thus, the imperative is to document the TK and TCEs and sensitizing the stakeholders on their rights to obtain royalties from their cultural products and performances. This study analyzed the implications of IPR on tribal TK and TCEs, and points out the opportunities and challenges in using the existing IP framework for protecting TK. It established that the western concepts on IPRs are contrary to the needs and ethos of tribal people because it fails to embrace core concepts of TK like collective innovation, collective ownership, and collective within its framework. Taking cognizance with these underlining predicaments, the study recommends embarking on Indigenous Knowledge documentation which aims at inventorying, codifying and registering oral knowledge for legal through Community Based Approach (CBA). Recognizing the unique ethnic identity, history, culture of tribes in Northeast region of India, the study calls for institutionalizing Northeastern Intellectual property Rights Chapter under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to deal exclusively with the IPR needs of tribal’s in Northeastern states.
Keywords: Traditional Knowledge, intellectual property rights, traditional knowledge management.