New Text Issued In WIPO Genetic Resources Talks

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The first revision of what could become an international instrument on the protection of genetic resources was issued this morning and submitted for comments from World Intellectual Property Organization delegates.

[Note: link fixed] The revision of the Consolidated Document [pdf] Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources now contains a list of terms, a preamble, two policy objectives, and seven articles, followed by a drafting annex (an annex containing what remains after the drafting of the text from the original version).   

On 5 February, the delegations of Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United States submitted a new document [pdf], referred to as the joint proposal, to the WIPO secretariat for discussion by the 23rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) as a working document.

The new document is a joint recommendation on the use of databases for the defensive protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

New Structure, Impartiality, Facilitator Says

According to Ian Goss of Australia, one of the three facilitators appointed to draft revisions of the text according to the inputs from regional experts, the facilitators aimed at giving clarity, improving the content in structure, and removing repetitions. The two other facilitators are Emmanuel Sackey from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and Biswajit Dhar from India.

Importantly, Goss said, “we are impartial” and aim to reflect all positions within the text. The revised consolidated document now contains two parts, he said. The first part contains the revised text and the second part being an annex incorporating all deleted text that does not appear anymore in the first part, he said.

In addition, he said the facilitators, working with the expert group, identified in the objectives section many overarching or declaratory statements that are relevant to all three texts under negotiation. There are also IGC texts being negotiated on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. To address the overarching dimension, Goss said a preamble section was established.

The first revision also now contains only two core objectives, compared to the five in the original version (IPW, WIPO, 1 February 2013), by merging them. Neither objective is agreed by all, he said.

Article 3, which previously had a long title with several sets of brackets, and deals with the sensitive issue of the mandatory disclosure of genetic resources in patent applications, is now just titled “Scope of instrument” and shows two options.

Option 1 establishes mandatory disclosure requirement and describes all key elements of the disclosure formality such as triggers, exclusions, contents of disclosure, actions of the office, and sanctions.

Option 2 presents a “Defensive protection” without a mandatory disclosure relating to genetic resources, in particular the establishment of databases of traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

The joint proposal submitted on 5 February advocates the use of databases. Proponents of the proposal are in starch opposition to a mandatory disclosure requirement, while developing countries say it is key to the future instrument.

Delegates reconvening this morning in plenary asked for some time to analyse the revised version of the text and were coming back in plenary this afternoon to finish delivering their comments.

The expert group will then continue its work. The group works in closed committee but their deliberations are transmitted in the plenary room.


Catherine Saez may be reached at

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