What is Heritable Knowledge?


“Heritable knowledge” is a term that refers to the traditions and customs in a culture that are passed down through generations and developed with a certain intent. Heritable knowledge does not have specified founding date, an element of static specificity, or a single owner. There are four aspects that make heritable knowledge distinct from intellectual property.

1. Heritable knowledge is fluid. It has been used or maintained by past generations and is utilized and adapted for present and future generations. This is important because the heritability of the knowledge is derived from its ability to synthesize the environmental changes and technological advances of each generation.

2. Heritable knowledge is traditional. It is passed down and remembered through cultural customs, as opposed to strictly formatted documentation. Unlike classically defined intellectual property, there is neither "creator" nor "created work". Rather all are simultaneously stewards and adaptors. It is recorded in various forms of expression such as paintings, ceremonies, carvings, song, dance, and storytelling.

3. Heritable knowledge is deliberate. It is animated through constant consideration of its original intent. Without consideration, the knowledge loses its value within the community and is increasingly vulnerable to misuse. Given that the knowledge originates from cultural traditions, respect for the community inextricably assumes engagement within communal values which are celebrated when engaged and condemned when disrespected or circumvented.

4. Heritable knowledge is collaborative. It is not owned by an individual or generation, rather it is stewarded by the community as a whole. This precludes exploitation or monopolization of the knowledge, as it cannot be sold because it lacks a single creator and therefore a legal transferring counterparty.

The Heritable Innovation Trust seeks to develop a more efficient paradigm in international intellectual property protocol that focuses on bilateral value exchange across cultural barriers.