Informal trademarking and equitable benefit-sharing

Published: 04 July 2019
Last edited: 04 July 2019

The informal collective trademarking system was jointly developed by the Potato Park communities (represented be the Association of Communities of the Potato Park) and ANDES, through a joint process including several community meetings facilitated by ANDES researchers. The informal collective trademark allows microbusinesses and biocultural innovation in the Potato Park region to present a distinct, place-based Potato Park identity to others, clustering the diverse microbusinesses operating within the territory and generating cohesion among park communities who are otherwise quite fragmented. The trademark is collectively owned by and linked to the Potato Park. 

 

Related to the trademarking is the process of equitable benefit-sharing; 10% of revenues from trademarked products and services – such as tea, food or toiletries – go into a communal fund, before being redistributed to communities as per the benefit-sharing agreement. This equitable benefit-sharing, alongside the intangible benefits of social cohesion and sense of place, encourage community engagement with the Potato Park and enhance local capacity, in turn bolstering support for and sustainability of the park. 

Classifications

Category
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Subnational
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

The benefit-sharing agreement was guided by Quechua customary laws and norms, and developed over 2-3 years using an in-depth participatory process facilitated by community-based researchers. The agreement was based on the three core principles emerging from this process: reciprocity, duality and equilibrium. Letting go of preconceived notions of access and benefit sharing, and embracing those concepts from the perspective of the communities themselves, is an essential starting point for this kind of participatory work.

Lessons learned

  • The informal trademarking process has advantages over the formal trademarking process, which was attempted but which failed due to certain points of incommensurability between formal intellectual property regulations, and indigenous issues and concerns. For example, to fulfil formal intellectual property regulations, the trademark should be registered permanently to one name; this was not compatible with the rotating leadership of the park’s governing body
  • In this instance, informal collective trademarking was deemed an appropriate alternative which still had positive impacts including e.g. social cohesion, marketing, benefit-sharing. Nonetheless, it is important to note that informal trademarking is vulnerable to misappropriation and misuse in ways that formal trademarks are not