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Ten Questions About Internet Governance

On April 23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance,” also known as “NETmundial” in an allusion to the global football event that will occur later in that country, will be convened. Juan Alfonso Fernández González of the Cuban Communications Ministry and a veteran of the UN internet governance meetings, raises 10 questions that need to be answered at NETmundial.


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    Traditional Knowledge, Folkore Treaty Texts Still Advancing At WIPO

    Published on 22 July 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization this week continued work on evolving draft texts of treaties to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), or folklore. But more work will be needed to complete them, according to participants.

    Facilitators were designated by the meeting chair during the week to organise options more clearly and presented the plenary with different policy approaches on traditional cultural expressions and traditional knowledge (TK).

    A document on TCEs [pdf] was issued yesterday by the facilitator, and a document for TK and two documents for genetic resources were produced this morning.

    The 19th session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is taking place from 18-22 July with the main objective of cleaning up draft texts produced in preceding sessions and to decide on the future work of the committee, whose mandate is scheduled to end this year.

    According to Committee Chair Philip Owade of Kenya, most of the substantive work on the texts has been done, as of this morning. After the first reading of the text early this week, Owade designated facilitators to conduct informal meetings on the three subject matters of the IGC. New Zealand was the facilitator for TCEs, Colombia and Canada were facilitators for TK, and India and Australia were facilitators for genetic resources, he told Intellectual Property Watch. The texts issued by those facilitators still include options and policy issues, but “they are much cleaner,” he said. Those texts are expected to be taken forward to the next session of the IGC.

    Owade also established a group of friends of the chair to facilitate discussions about future work of the committee. This group of friends included regional negotiators, he said. The main issues for discussion included how to renew the mandate, when to convene a diplomatic conference for final treaty negotiation, and the number of meetings, he added. The friends of the chair should present the results of their consultations this afternoon in plenary, he said.

    According to a developing country source, one of the issues that divided Group B developed countries and some developing countries were the number of meetings of the next IGC. Some developing countries insisted on having seven sessions in the next biennium, and developed countries would prefer to keep to the four regular sessions. Another issue is that some developing countries think that because genetic resources are lagging behind they should be given more time to be addressed, the source told Intellectual Property Watch.

    According to a Group B source, so far this week, work has concentrated on four items for TCEs and TK: subject matter, beneficiaries, scope, and exceptions and limitations, which appear to be the more contentious. There is not yet a negotiating text for genetic resources, which is the less mature subject of the IGC.

    Facilitators’ Documents

    The facilitator’s document on TCEs [pdf] was issued yesterday, and includes two “policy approaches”. One provides “a definition of TCEs and eligibility criteria that is as simple as possible, avoids debate about the content and length of the list,” and leaves flexibility to national law. The other provides “a more detailed definition of TCEs and eligibility criteria that provides greater certainty,” in particular through listing of examples.

    This morning, a second draft of the facilitators’ text on traditional knowledge [pdf] was released. This morning’s text presents two different policy approaches, “the first based on a circumscribed definition of traditional knowledge with limited scope of protection and responsibilities for Member States, and the second, rights-based, more expansive and prescriptive, notably in terms of Member States’ obligations.”

    The document is aimed at helping the IGC eliminate overlap and repetition, but “still falls short in drawing clear linkages between the problems related to the protection” of traditional knowledge, “and the possible measures to be taken to address these problems,” the facilitators’ document said.

    In particular, on the issue of whether secret and/or sacred traditional knowledge should be included in the scope of this future instrument, the document said that informal consultations had shown that further discussion is required.

    On beneficiaries, the document shows that some countries favour a short definition of “indigenous and local communities,” but another approach includes “families, nations and individuals.” The document says that “this option reflects the position of countries that do not use the term indigenous peoples or local communities but consider that individuals or families maintain TK.”

    The two policy approaches on the scope of protection of TK also starkly differ. One says that member states should have “maximum flexibility to define the scope of protection,” and the other one places stronger obligations for member states, with for example, giving beneficiaries the exclusive collective rights to authorize or deny the access and use of their traditional knowledge, and require “in the application for intellectual property rights involving the use of their traditional knowledge,” the mandatory disclosure of the identity of the TK holders and the country of origin, as well as evidence of compliance with prior inform consent and benefit-sharing requirements.

    Genetic Resources Still Without Treaty Text

    On genetic resources, the discussion is still two-tracked, with one set of draft objectives and principles, and one set of options for future work. Two documents were released this morning by facilitators, on objectives and principles. One of them presents an analysis and revised text [pdf], the other one is the facilitators’ text [pdf]. The analysis text shows revised text merging some of the options but retaining brackets to “take account of different issues.”

    For example, in objective two, multiple brackets are still around language relating to intellectual property rights and patents in regards to TK, as this is an issue on which members do not currently agree, the document specified.

    The second document on the set of draft objectives and principles aggregates a number of options that were in the draft document from the last IGC session. For example, objective two of this document, dealing with IP rights in relation with genetic resources contains a set of different language on the reasons preventing the patenting of GR, almost completely bracketed. The reasons include granting of a patent when it is not novel or inventive, without prior informed consent, mutually agreed terms, or granted in violation of inherent rights of the original owners.

    On 19 July, a group of “like-minded” developing countries released proposals for the draft articles on the protection of TCEs [pdf], TK [pdf], and GR [pdf] (IPW, WIPO, 20 July 2011). This followed a submission on 8 July by Indonesia on behalf of the group of like-minded countries of a set of recommendations to the IGC. The group includes Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

    An Indonesian delegate told Intellectual Property Watch that the proposed texts had been considered by the facilitators when drafting their documents and Indonesia considered this as a considerable victory for the like-minded countries. They still are concerned about the fact that there has been some reluctance to establish a draft negotiating text for genetic resources, as it cannot go forward without such a text, he said.

    Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns

    According to an indigenous peoples’ representative, a lot of text proposed by indigenous peoples has not been considered in the documents issued by facilitators, and indigenous peoples need an opportunity to put their text forward and be “considered seriously by parties in future work.”

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Latest Developments, July 22 « Beyond Aid says:

      [...] delegates have wrapped up a week of meetings without completing drafts of treaties to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore. An representative of indigenous peoples expressed concern that their voices were not being [...]

    2. WIPO Committee Makes Last Run At Folklore Treaty Text Before Annual Assembly | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] articles were extensively discussed during IGC 19, in July 2011 (IPW, WIPO, 22 July 2011), during which a facilitator, Kim Connolly-Stone from New Zealand, was tasked to streamline them. [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

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    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

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    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

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