New WIPO Text On Genetic Resources Misappropriation; Disclosure Still UncertainPublished on 6 February 2014 @ 1:42 am
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
World Intellectual Property Organization member countries are working to get past their differences this week toward agreement on a way to protect genetic resources from biopiracy. A new document shows focus on misappropriation as a policy objective, and that a bridge still needs to be found on the issue of mandatory disclosure of origin in patent applications.
After bringing ambassadors and senior officials into the discussion this week at the outset of the 26th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) with inconclusive results, technical experts worked on a draft text of what could become an international instrument of protection of genetic resources.
At the end of the afternoon today (5 February), a new text [pdf] (rev.1) was issued by the WIPO secretariat. The new text was engineered by experts working in small groups aided in their tasks by facilitators.
Ian Goss of Australia, acting as “friend of the chair,” gave a brief presentation of the new text and its main differences compared to the original text [pdf] that delegates had been working from and carried over from the last session of the IGC on genetic resources, in February 2013 (IPW, WIPO, 8 February 2013).
In particular, there is now one policy objective instead of two, indicating an effort at agreeing on the most important objective of the instrument. Goss said the policy objective was now focused on preventing the misappropriation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The new paragraph contains ingredients from the two previous options, but giving a high order to misappropriation as a core policy issue, he said.
The reference to compliance with international and national laws relating to benefit-sharing has been replaced by a broader reference to complementarity with international agreements.
Goss mentioned that the substantive area discussed was a disclosure requirement, in order to try to move towards some common ground. This has been a major bone of contention in past sessions of the IGC. The work on this issue is still in progress, Goss said.
Defensive measures in the new document have been fleshed out with elements from the two joint recommendations that have been put forward by developed countries. One is a joint recommendation [pdf] from Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United States, and the other one [pdf] has been tabled by Canada, Japan, South Korea and the US.
“Amongst disclosure proponents there was a recognition in relation to the need to have flexibility in implementation at the national level … because countries deal differently with access and benefit sharing and disclosure,” according to Goss. This was reflected in the text, he added.
Delegates are expected to discuss the new document overnight and deliver their comments on it tomorrow morning (6 February) for one hour in plenary session, before letting experts head back to the drafting table.
The IGC is meeting from 3-7 February.
Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.