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Can Kazakhstan stand upon its rights for kurt, beshparmak and kazy?

August 23 2012, 20:05

At last, Kazakhstan will launch the production of kurt (the Kazakh traditional dry cheese curd - sour milk product) on an industrial scale.
Previously we all used to buy it from ladies at bazaars only, but starting now we may buy a factory product. In nearest future a factory will produce kurt of several varieties such as Classic, Smoked and others with pepper and mint. The company will be selling the products not only in Kazakhstan, but export it to other countries as well.
Social network users proposed a range of original ideas of producing a ‘chupa’ kurt (like a candy on a stick) and a ‘raffa’ kurt (like Raffaello), but the difference would be a national color – a kumys (horse milk) or a shubat (camel milk) stuffing inside it.
Not long ago Kazakh producers of kumys received a resounding slap from a German citizen Hans Zollman, who had patented our traditional beverage made from horse milk. One never knows when, besides beer, Germans will start exporting kumys to Kazakhstan.  
Given the above, last year Kazakhstan ratified the convention on protection of non-material cultural heritage. Under non-material cultural heritage we understand customs and expression forms, knowledge and skills, as well as tools, things, artifacts and cultural areas related to these and recognized by communities, groups and, in particular cases, certain people as their cultural heritage.
A bit earlier, during discussion of amendments to the intellectual property act, some members of Mazhilis proposed to patent Kazakh traditional ornaments and dishes, berkuts (eagles), kumys, other national meals and the domestic Internet segment – Kaznet, so that nobody will ever try to take these away from us.
In general, the right of ownership over cultural heritages is a very sensitive issue. For example, China has patented the Kyrgyz epos of Manas. The word ‘beshparmak’ has become the subject of hot disputes in the Internet. Some claim it a mistake and proposed to change it to ‘sybaga’ or ‘et’. The others urge not to heat the subject and to recall that this Kazakh national meal is famous in Kazakhstan and the world under this name only.  

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