The limits of e-commerce: Addressing IP support for Indigenous peoples and community entrepreneurs

2 minute read
23 December 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have significantly increased the international growth of, and dependence on, e-commerce. Demand for online shopping has grown so suddenly that community entrepreneurs and Indigenous peoples around the world have had to adjust quickly, moving transactions for their goods and services online.

While being a lifeline for many small and community-based businesses, the unfamiliar format of e-commerce has also presented new problems, including those related to IP protection. In fact, the goods of many Indigenous peoples and local entrepreneurs have fallen prey to infringers and copycats – causing not only financial losses, but in some cases, an appropriation of traditional Indigenous cultures. 

In a recent WIPO webinar, focused specifically on this issue in the context of the Russian Federation, Gowling WLG partner and patent agent Alexander Christophoroff offered an overview of the IP tools that can help Indigenous peoples and community entrepreneurs protect and promote their virtual assets.

"I hope the webinar was of interest to local entrepreneurs who have recently moved to e-commerce and so far have a limited understanding of IP legislation and their options for IP rights protection," Christophoroff said. "I also hope that the webinar will encourage lawyers and state authorities to develop new regulations on protecting traditional knowledge and IP rights for Indigenous peoples."

View the webinar, and presentation materials (in Russian).

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