Progress In WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee Seen In Informal Sessions 16/10/2008 by Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. By Kaitlin Mara Movement is beginning to be seen at the World Intellectual Property Organization body tasked with discussing protection for traditional knowledge and folklore as informal meetings – and, in particular, bilateral meetings between the African Group and other regional groups – begin to bridge differences on modalities for future work. Plenary sessions were temporarily suspended until later this afternoon to allow for continued closed-door, informal negotiations. While these are ongoing, it seems that there is a trend towards consensus on expert working groups to conduct meetings between formal sessions of the WIPO committee, according to sources. The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), meeting from 13-17 October, agreed at its meeting last February to “consider taking a decision on proposed modalities and terms of reference for the establishment of intersessional mechanisms or processes.” The African Group took the initiative since the last meeting to draft a set of recommendations [pdf] for such work. Over the last two days, representatives from the group have been meeting informally with the representatives of other groups to discuss these proposed terms of reference and try to come to a conclusion on future committee work. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) states discussed the idea of having three working groups, one each on traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and genetic resources, said a GRULAC member. This is in contrast to the original African proposal, which suggested five working groups on the issues of definitions and object of protection, exceptions and limitations and duration, prior informed consent and moral/economic rights to knowledge, beneficiaries, and sui generis (in kind) options for protection. A meeting between the Group B developed nations and the African Group – between which the largest differences existed – seemed to achieve more convergence of viewpoints, according to an African Group delegate. Australia, Canada and New Zealand were the most forthcoming on details of the terms of reference, the delegate said. The trend during the Group B-Africa meeting was also toward three groups, though in order to avoid repetition of conversations during the full-session IGC meetings, the suggestion to limit discussion within the issue groups to the five areas mentioned above in the African proposal has been forwarded, the delegate said. On the issue of working groups focussed on genetic resources, a GRULAC representative said that discussions should not prejudice work in other fora, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), a position echoed by several Group B nations, according to a source. Other issues on the table during the informal talks are where intersessional meetings might be held – in Geneva or elsewhere – and whether several groups of experts might meet at the same time. Parallel meetings pose a potential problem for smaller nations, where there may be only one IP expert available. Delegates from Indonesia consider the work of the IGC important enough and urgent enough to justify the cost of intersessionals, and said Indonesia would be happy to host such meetings. There also have been some discussions on who might be the experts chosen for the working group. Korea mentioned the possibility of just having one working group, to ensure that working groups on issues so deeply interrelated do not come to contradictory conclusions in their work, said a delegate from the nation. Discussions on provisions for the protection of genetic resources under the rubric of the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement have been ongoing for several years within the WTO. The issue was named by several states at the July WTO ministerial as a “critical” part of achieving agreement. The United States is still searching for “consensus on practicalities,” according to a source, and is unable to clarify to Intellectual Property Watch what might be needed to achieve such consensus. Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Progress In WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee Seen In Informal Sessions" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.