Global copyright and trademark laws protect symbols, names, and literary and artistic works. However, when their primary significance is cultural, because they are neither individual original works nor symbols that are used as commercial identifiers, intellectual property laws do not protect these symbols or artistic works. This is true, even if these goods are protected under national laws as part of that nation’s cultural heritage. Once these cultural goods cross borders, there is no international law that will enable the country from which these goods originate to assert its rights in other countries. This Article characterizes these cultural goods as trade-related cultural intellectual property and proposes that, with some revisions to existing international agreements, this gap in the law can be addressed.
J. Janewa Osei-Tutu, Harmonizing Cultural IP across Borders: Fashionable Bags & Ghanaian Adinkra Symbols, 51 Akron L. Rev. 1197, 1228 (2017).