Document Type


Publication Date



Indigenous Guatemalan weavers are fighting for intellectual property laws that better protect their designs and other cultural expressions. The exploitation and appropriation by local and international companies has negatively affected the weavers’ livelihoods and resulted in culturally inappropriate uses of spiritual and traditional symbols. Adhering to Western ideals of individual creativity and utility, intellectual property laws in most of the world (including Guatemala) are not suited to protect indigenous creations. To address this legal gap, some countries have adopted sui generis legal regimes that align with communal notions of creation, ownership and stewardship found in indigenous knowledge systems. Based on extensive empirical field research, this Article finds that any criticisms against sui generis models are not borne out by the reality of the Panamanian sui generis model. This Article concludes by examining how the Panamanian model can be adapted to the Guatemalan context.

Part of the 2021 Dignity in Law Symposium

Publication Title

Brigham Young University Law Review





First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.